Change Work January 2009

Can we do it?

Have you put your ambitions on hold?  Perhaps you've been thinking of changing jobs or starting a new venture but feel that now isn't the right time to take a risk. It seems self-evident that the sensible thing to do in the present climate is to keep your head down and hang on.

But consider this. If you want to stand out from the crowd, achieve your goals, move on from where you're stuck - has it just got harder or easier?

While the rest of the world is focused on defence, protecting what they've got, what are the prospects for anyone who's alert to opportunity?

I don't know what opportunities are in front of you - and maybe you're not aware of them either. So just pause for a moment and if you're feeling sceptical, fearful, or just cautious, try switching your state by allowing yourself to think, "What if ..."

Then, from a position of curiosity, or even enthusiasm, look at some of the things you could do to move forward - if only times weren't so bad.  For the most attractive of these ask, "Why not?" and critically analyse whether the current economic situation really makes it impossible, or even any harder at all.

And what if you've already been hit hard?  If you've lost your job or your business has collapsed?  Then I suggest that what you need (beyond the necessities of life) is hope and encouragement.  You want to get back in the game as quickly as possible - and once again that's a matter of being aware of opportunities, particularly those that could take you in a new direction.

You might think, "That's easy to say when you haven't gone bust or been made redundant".  Honestly, I'm not sure how I would respond if I were in that situation today.  But I know that it will be easier if I have someone to help me see the positive side if I lapse into hopelessness. That might be a friend, a coach or perhaps a self-help group formed by and for people who've suffered similar setbacks and who share a determination to recover and to move on.  You need to know what works and the best people to tell you that are those who've been there.

Perhaps you need some new skills to create new opportunities.  Re-training is going to be a vital element in economic recovery and there's funding available to support it.  And maybe it's a good time to look candidly at those things you think you'll never be able to do; the things you're afraid of.  Coaching can help you to overcome barriers and to empower yourself.

So what are the key points to take from this?

An article in today's "Guardian" identifies the major players in the financial crash: the bankers, regulators and politicians who occupied key positions during the last few years.  While there's much potential benefit in untangling what happened and so understanding how to avoid it happening again, there's also a great desire to know who to blame.  It's as though forcing them to pay a price will somehow make things better.  Or at least it will make the rest of us feel better to know that "they" haven't got away with it.  But is that going to make any difference?

Recovery from the recession will begin when enough people feel optimistic about the future.  What if we decide to start thinking optimistically today ...?