Panic attacks, relationship breakdowns and alcoholism: The mental health impact during the coronavirus crisis…

Just one of the many headlines shared over previous weeks and as time goes on the impact of the pandemic could lead your career, if you let it, or you could lead it!
Here in the UK we have had approximately 9.3 million people furloughed and everyone will have had a different experience. For some, the opportunity to be at home, initially in glorious weather, potentially on 80% pay will have been an idyllic time. For others, not being able to escape a challenging home environment, struggling financially or dealing with the virus, will have made it a terrible experience. For the majority on furlough there is also the looming issue ‘will I have a job to go back to?’
Think back to the end of 2019, that time when we usually take stock and look at the year ahead. We may not have a clear view, but we have a general feeling how the year will unfold. We can anticipate the major milestones and can proactively set our course, but not this year…..suddenly the pause button was pressed and we were no longer responsible for our short term destiny.
If you were furloughed how did you react? Was it a welcome break or an existential threat? Once the initial shock had worn off and it became normal, what was your mindset? Were you embracing the challenge of a new experience or resisting the change and wanting your previous way of life back? Did you see it as an opportunity, a chance to get on with things that you had been putting off, read that book, learn that language, get fit, take up a new hobby? Or were you just trying to keep your head above water managing home schooling, shielding loved ones and worrying about the future?

The OED describes furlough as ‘a leave of absence’. Being able to create space from our lives and stepping back for a different perspective gives us the chance to assess what is important. How many have been ‘living lives of quiet desperation’, to quote Thoreau, wanting something to change but not knowing quite what or how, feeling trapped by the expectations of others, like we were on a treadmill with no way off. If you are not someone who’s good with change, it’s time to be. Leaders, managers, all of us need to challenge our perspectives, confidence levels, up our resilience and paint a new picture.
Whether you have been on furlough or not, this is in an ideal opportunity to reset, carrying out a work audit to enable you to pivot. Look back on the last few months and ask yourself some questions. What lessons have you learned? What do you miss? What are you no longer prepared to tolerate? What do you want more of in your life and what do you want less of? Which connections do you want to maintain, and which are you now happy to let go of? Which part of you has been constrained by your world of work that is now able to blossom? What makes you exited about the new opportunity for change?
How often are you disengaged? Are you blaming something or someone else? A huge part of engagement can be created from within. It takes perspective, dogged positivity and flexible stubbornness. If we open our mind and lift our self awareness and conscious love for our work and life the us that we take forward can change lives and careers, as well as our own. Think about what drives you and who you are at your best. Are you being that person at work? Fully you? Look at your iAM Heart and Core Values for your unique sense of purpose (if you don’t have an iAM values ripple see below for how to get one). You can’t change others, but you can take responsibility for changing yourself and positively influencing those around you. So, whether you are furloughed or not and whether you are going back to your old job, or on new path, determine who you are going to be and create fantastic engagement for yourself, so you can step into the future with confidence and #beyourselfatwork.