How is your career mojo?
Navigating a return to work after a long absence can be daunting, especially if it requires securing a new position. Typically, most people rely on networking as a common strategy. However, with so many workers, managers, and leaders furloughed or laid off, the competition can be fierce. Add to that bias about long-term unemployment, and even great mojo can take a hit.
There remains in our culture a stigma about long-term unemployment. This is especially true for the more mature knowledge workers who internalize self-blame or stigmas. Left unchecked, long-term unemployment can suck the air out of our spirit. When this happens our mojo becomes a no go, or as Marshall Goldsmith coined it, “nojo.”
According to Goldsmith, nojo occurs when we become dispirited and confused. This is happening right now with two common mistakes: waiting for the facts to change, and looking for logic in all the wrong places. As a result, we get stuck, and stay stuck.
Fortunately, there is action we can take to navigate a successful return to work.
Avoid Mojo Traps
Waiting for the facts to change. When we experience a setback, such as a loss of a job, it’s not uncommon to wait for the facts to change into something more to our liking. Similarly, when we are given the choice between two undesirable options, we’ll often choose neither. But, in a rapidly changing world, such inaction can be akin to moving backward.
Instead, consider what action you would take if you knew the situation would not change. Ask yourself, “Which path do I choose?”
Looking for logic in all the wrong places. Have you noticed how much time and energy you spend on finding logic in situations where none exists? It’s easy to do; after all, we’re trained to value logic. However, sometimes decisions that affect us are unreasonable, unfair, or unjust.
Instead, we can recognize and accept that human beings are profoundly illogical. We can accept the things we absolutely can not change, find the courage to change the things we can, and develop the wisdom to know the difference.
How Is Your Career Mojo?
While many workers, managers, and leaders are excited about the future of work, not everyone shares their enthusiasm.
However, according to a recent article published by Harvard Business Review, there is an estimated 1.5 million white-collar workers furloughed or laid off for six months or more. Many are asking the question, “Where do I go from here?”
When this topic comes up in my coaching conversations, we explore four key components of career mojo:
- Knowing yourself well. For example, what are your strengths? How do you perform best? How do you learn best?
- Identifying your core values.
- Determining how your values fit with who you are today.
- Taking action with purpose, power, and increasing ease.
Reclaim Your Career Mojo
Thinking about the person you are—what makes you “you”—in a realistic, positive light, can help you reclaim your career mojo. Ask yourself:
- How have I grown in the last decade? The last year?
- To what extent would I want to trade places with who I was 10 years ago? What about two years ago?
- How much do I romanticize my earlier years?
- Who do I think I want to become—and how close am I to becoming my ideal self?
Because the work we do is central to who we think are, it’s important to explore and identify our ideals. This is a purposeful step in becoming and evolving. When we tap into what motivates us in the here and now, we find passion, energy, and direction.
Optimum Career Mojo
A successful return to work requires a certain amount of mojo: those moments when we do something with purpose, power, and increasing sense of ease. When we take action in a positive direction, we reclaim our mojo.
We can begin by reflecting on the past to identify how we have grown. Reflection allows us to identify our current values and how our identity shifts over time.
Because we often operate from a template formed by past experiences, we may be unnecessarily limiting our options. Instead, we can challenge the assumptions we make about ourselves.
Your Ideal Self
Picture yourself a year from now, with your hopes and plans fulfilled.
- What does that look like?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What assumptions are you making about yourself?
- Where are you placing limits? For example, are you curtailing thoughts based on outdated perceptions about your strengths and weaknesses?
- How can you leverage your experiences, skills, values, and passion?
A common approach for a return to work is to identify the position you’d like to have and acquire the required skills. But considering the statistics, trends, and analysis on the future of work published by McKinsey & Company, a better approach is to identify and acquire skills for your ideal self, and then find a position.
Reclaiming your mojo begins with small steps that you can take toward your ideal you. If you have trouble with that first step, start with an action that will be helpful regardless of what happens tomorrow, or next week.
For example, review and update your resume and your social media profiles. Update your contact lists and references, and review recommendations. And if you haven’t already, identify a trusted mentor, coach, or other professional who can support you through the process with objective, helpful feedback.