Best way to handle sudden life changes

By setting realistic lifelong goals, and developing plans to achieve them, that will cope with any challenges you might face. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH

Photo credit: NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • Track technical and social trends that could affect your career. Pay attention to news of the economy.
  • Read books on business, finance, economics and politics.
  • Manage your career by bringing a project mindset to every position.

When something dreadful happens, like your employer starts announcing redundancies, or your spouse asks for a divorce, it’s easy to feel so confused that you just can’t take any meaningful action at all. But some people quickly pull themselves together and start to plan their recovery.

They’ve developed a set of crisis survival skills that help with everything, from insignificant irritations to deadly disasters. And you can learn them too.

The most important one is avoiding ‘the illusion of normality.’ We so want things to be okay that we often brush aside signs that something’s going wrong. Like your organisation is losing money, or your partner is unhappy.

Talk to people

Survivors constantly scan for threats. So see reality for what it is, not what you’d like it to be. Read the subtle signals that your friends and colleagues are sending. Track technical and social trends that could affect your career. Pay attention to news of the economy. Read books on business, finance, economics and politics.

Listen to your spouse. And talk to people at work, across the whole business. Listen for talk of mergers, disposals, falling sales, rising costs and so on. Because then your organisation’s going to have to take action.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by worry. So cultivate the belief that setbacks are inevitable, but that you’ll always cope. And then you will, because actually we all have huge reserves of resilience.

Always have some slack in your schedule, and keep yourself really fit. Then you’ll always be able to handle the unexpected.

Keep your personal finances in good shape by minimising spending and maximising savings so you could survive for longer without a pay-check. Develop plans to deal with commitments like property loans, which will cause difficulties if your income drops.

Manage your career by bringing a project mindset to every position. That means not just focusing on developing a good reputation in your current role, but also on getting the next one.

Increasing efficiencies

So in every job you do, constantly work on increasing efficiencies, reducing costs and developing your staff. And have a clear strategy for your next position in different organisations as well as your current one. Network aggressively so that you get to know the people who’ll make the hiring decisions for your target appointments. And they know about you.

Successful survivors also have a different attitude toward work. They’re just as committed to their employers, but their job is not the only thing in their lives. So develop a strong sense of identity that separates from your organisation, and don’t define yourself solely by your profession.

Never stop your education, either via formal courses or well structured reading. Develop a clear sense of what you want to accomplish in life, in your work, family, and community.

And pursue your vision in ways that match the realities of the world. By setting realistic lifelong goals, and developing plans to achieve them, that will cope with any challenges you might face.

[email protected]