Covid-19 has triggered a significant spike of remote and hybrid workers, changing the landscape of the workplace as we used to know it. Studies show that working from home has led to a surge of people burning the midnight oil and burning themselves out, leading to increased incidences of anxiety, depression and burnout at epidemic rates. Employees are leaving their jobs in droves, causing what has been called “The Great Resignation.” But despite pandemic hardships, some people have found an upside to the pandemic and are thriving in their careers. A new study by MentorcliQ found that workers are reassessing what matters most in their careers after a year and a half of working from home as they look for a more diverse workplace, opportunities for advancement, or an overall healthy workplace culture. Some employees who were laid off developed side gigs that turned into thriving businesses. Others took time to think about their careers and ask what they wanted to change about them and took action. What separates pandemic thrivers from the pack? They have resilience skills that sustain their mental health, well-being, job engagement and productivity. You, too, can develop these habits if you don’t already possess them.
A Winning Frame of Mind
Some people like Michele Sullivan, former president of the Caterpillar Foundation, are born with pit-bull determination, less affected by work stress, and more resilient to change. Sullivan was born with a rare form of dwarfism that created many challenges in her daily life. She is the epitome of a resilient corporate leader, having once told me: “For you, having a door held may be a very nice gesture from a stranger. For me, it is a requirement to enter most buildings that do not have automatic doors. It requires me to ask for a lot of help, and once I finally learned to embrace that reality, the universe answered back with thunderous support. Where I had once seen obstacles, I changed my perspective and viewed them instead as advantages. I now call this the ‘Looking Up’ philosophy, and it is how I live my life each day.”
Other people are more vulnerable to the arrows of everyday job pressures. But regardless of where you fall, you can cultivate a winning frame of mind also known as a growth mindset, coined by Carol Dweck of Stanford—the belief that hardships like the Covid-19 happens for you, not to you. If you have a growth mindset, you consider pandemic drawbacks and successes a package deal—like a hand and glove, milk and cookies, flip sides of the same coin—twins, not enemies. To attain what you want, you recognize you must be willing to accept what you don’t want. Instead of giving up, you welcome obstacles, setbacks and disappointments—no matter how painful, frustrating, big or small—as opportunities to grow and learn. Even if you tell yourself you want to give up, you don’t really want to quit. You just want the worry and disappointment to stop. For some workers giving up might feel like the only option, but it isn’t. Here are 10 habits that can carry you through the pandemic until we’re on the other side of it.
10 Habits of Pandemic-Resilient Employees
- Grow a thick skin and expect frustrations and inconveniences. Commit yourself in advance to facing pandemic obstacles and focus on the opportunity in the frustrations, instead of the frustrations in the opportunity to become stronger, learn and grow in your career.
- Ditch the desire for comfort and step into growing pains. Be willing to go to the edge of your professional pain so you can be fully present with and find a way over or around pandemic restrictions and limitations.
- Be willing to postpone immediate gratification if Covid-19 has squashed your short-term career goals for fulfillment in the long term once the pandemic subsides.
- Cultivate spring-back sustainability. Believe in yourself and imagine you’re an elastic band that bends and stretches to a certain point before you spring back higher than the pandemic takes you down.
- Refer to previous experience. Studies show that reflecting on past obstacles you’ve overcome makes you even more resilient. Point to lessons learned and your personal resources and underscore ways you have grown stronger through the pandemic hard knocks.
- Identify self-doubts that have cramped your work style or crippled you from growing fully during the last 18 months of Covid-19. Harness them—instead of running from them—and channel them into useful skills so they don’t paralyze you.
- Stay off the roller coaster. Manage pandemic ups-and-downs by treating highs and lows equally. Celebrate the highs but don’t take them any more seriously than the lows, and don’t take pandemic lows and limitations any more seriously than the upswings.
- Eschew the what-the-hell effect. This attitude only adds insult to injury. Face letdowns by taking the towel you want to throw in and use it to wipe the sweat off your face then ask, what you can learn that will help you grow.
- Practice positive self-talk and optimism. Avoid negative put-downs and criticisms. Instead of bludgeoning yourself during these hard times, give yourself positive affirmations and encouragement to get back in the saddle. When you’re feeling low or discouraged, self-compassion helps you keep your head above water.
- Develop the mindset that we’re all in the Covid-19 epidemic together, and pulling as a team is our best ally against the virus. Whether you still work in the office, remotely or have a hybrid position, cooperate with national medical officials who develop guidelines around mask wearing, vaccinations and other life-saving measures and work within the confines of these restrictions.
How to Sustain Your Resilient Zone During The Pandemic
Michele Sullivan is so caught up in looking at the advantages in her life that they eclipse her losses. She’s a challenged woman living a rich life, simply because of her perspective. Few of us have Michele’s challenge and still have difficulty coping with Covid-19 hardships. Compare Michele’s perspective to that of Ralph, who came barreling into my office during tax season, slinging his backpack onto the sofa and spouting curse words. When I asked him what was the matter, he groaned that he had to pay a half-million dollars in taxes. When I asked how much he made for the year, he offhandedly mumbled, “Oh, five or six million.” Ralph was so caught up in his loss that it eclipsed his gain—a rich man living an impoverished life.
Once you have resilience skills in your hip pocket, the rest is up to you. You start to accept pandemic roadblocks as an essential stepping-stone to career success. You give yourself permission to stick your neck out and try despite looming restrictions. The more you accept pandemic limitations, the more opportunities you have to accept success and bounce back higher than you fall. And every time you miss the mark—instead of giving up—you do what resilient workers everywhere are doing: Take the towel you want to throw in, wipe the sweat off your brow and plot your next career move.