Finding opportunities to improve yourself after a crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left thousands of people temporarily out of work, working reduced hours, or working from home—some people have even lost their jobs as businesses struggle to make it through weeks of social distancing and closures. Thankfully, however, this economic downturn won’t last forever, so the extra free time and new perspective you may have gained from this crisis can empower you to take steps to set yourself up for future success. Here are 10 ways you can help yourself succeed after a crisis.

1. Transform boredom into productivity.

In times of crisis, it’s easy to disconnect and let Netflix keep playing the next episode of your latest TV show binge. Instead, let your boredom motivate you to be productive. Even if you’re not actively working, fill part of each day with activities that will improve your productivity levels and get you closer to your career goals.

2. Step up and take initiative at work.

If you’re still working, your boss is likely stressed and your team may be understaffed or struggling to perform all of its usual functions remotely. While it’s tempting to put your head down and muddle through, this is the perfect opportunity to step up and show some initiative. Even if you don’t want to keep this job forever, showing your problem-solving skills or that you’re willing to take on more responsibility is a great way to get yourself noticed by your boss. That can translate to a raise or promotion in the future or a great recommendation letter when you’re ready to move on in your career.

3. Take classes to improve your skillset.

If you find yourself with a little extra free time, you can take online classes to widen your skillset and improve upon the skills you already have. There are plenty of free or low-cost resources online that will facilitate this, including Lynda, Udemy, and Skillshare. These websites all have at least a month-long free trial, giving you plenty of time to decide if you like the learning platform before you pay for membership.

4. Work on your resume or elevator pitch.

The business world is constantly changing, so your resume should, too. Research current business standards for your field of work and tailor your resume to fit them, making sure it’s updated to include any relevant skills you’ve gained from taking online courses. If you’re an entrepreneur or freelancer, work on your elevator pitch—including delivering it with confidence—to help you quickly impress customers or potential clients.

5. Take time to consider your dreams for the future—and plan how to get there.

Whether you love your job or it’s just a step towards the job you want, it’s helpful to spend time thinking about where you’d like your career to take you. Where do you want to be in six months or a year? What about five years, 10 years—or at the end of your career? Then flesh out that inner map by planning steps on how you can get there. You don’t have to work out every detail, but even a bare-bones plan can go a long way towards getting your career moving in the right direction.

6. Attend webinars in your greatest area of interest.

Webinars are great learning tools, especially while you’re practicing social distancing. The virtual lectures mimic a classroom as closely as possible, always including a live video stream of the speakers and allowing you to share and discuss information in a chat during the lesson; most webinars also include a Q&A session after the lecture is complete. Attending webinars in an area of interest deepens your understanding of it and can fuel your passion for it.

7. Hone your own webinar skills.

If you enjoy attending webinars, you may even want to consider hosting a webinar of your own! Everyone has a skill they can share, even if it feels like you don’t have much to offer. Your areas of expertise, your passions, and even topics you love talking about can be transformed into useful webinars that will help other people. You can focus on topics like planning, organization, or customer service as well as skills like coding, graphic design, or creative writing. Hosting a webinar will help you, too, by boosting your resume and helping you build valuable skills like public speaking.

8. Practice communicating with confidence.

Sharing your ideas at a meeting or bringing a potential issue to your boss’ attention can be intimidating, but it’s also an important part of doing your job well and getting noticed by your boss. Even a good idea might get rejected if it’s delivered poorly, so learning to speak with confidence under pressure will help your ideas sound better while making you sound more skilled and competent.

9. Catch up on reading.

While you’re waiting for work to kick back into high gear, catch up on reading the books that your company has requested you read. If your company hasn’t assigned reading to you, try seeking out personal growth books. A few great books you may want to add to your reading list include ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brene Brown, ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Dale Carnegie, ‘Girl, Stop Apologizing’ by Rachel Hollis, and ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ by Stephen R. Covey.

10. Let yourself rest and relax.

As important as it is to improve yourself and build on your existing skills, working at a breakneck pace will only lead to increased stress and exhaustion, and can cause you to burn out. Making a plan to cope during this unexpected turn of events should include taking advantage of your newfound free time to rest and relax. Practice meditation, breathing exercises, or other relaxation techniques and make time for a nap. Even if you’re really busy, you should still try to make time to rest; if you have to, set an alarm and just let yourself grab a 10- or 15-minute catnap. Allow yourself to unwind in a way that works for you, whether that’s reading a novel, playing video games, or soaking in the bathtub. You’ll likely find that if you’re not stressed, you’re more focused and productive when it’s time to work.

While COVID-19 may have sparked a crisis at work or left you twiddling your thumbs at home, the effects don’t have to be completely negative. You can take advantage of the situation to improve on your skillset, update your resume, or step up and take more responsibility at work. The current crisis is far from ideal, but with a little motivation and planning, you can ensure that you and your career emerge stronger than ever.

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