123. Resilient Habits During Uncertain Times with Dr. Nayla Bahri

March 26, 2020

“In times of crisis, there’s a short-game we’re playing, and a long-game we’re playing.“

The world of work is just intense and filled with uncertainty at the moment. So, instead of the planned season on conversations with my heroes, we are instead diving into the topic of career continuity and resilience. The convo with my heroes season will still be released, just delayed.

First up this season: I’ve got Dr. Nayla Bahri back on the show. She joined me in January, which feels like ages ago. Back then, we explored resilience habits to practice when times are good! Now, we’re talking about resilience again — this time though, in a totally different context. And boy, does that change the picture!

In this episode, we revisit her study of the folks who were negatively impacted by the 2008 recession. We talk about the habits that helped those who not only overcame their situation but ended up thriving in their post-recession careers. We discuss practical action steps that we can take NOW — even as we’re all experiencing uncertainty and asking lots of unanswered questions — while giving ourselves enough patience and grace as we navigate these unchartered waters.

Listen via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get podcasts.

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Here are a few highlights from this conversation:

One of the things that’s both demoralizing but also kind of empowering about facing a global health crisis is that we’re all in this together.

I don’t know if there’s been anything in our lifetime that has felt quite so unknown. So let’s be kind to ourselves and notice that there are days where we feel super productive and capable. Like I’m a superhero, I can do this. And there are days where all I want to do is wear sweat pants all day and maybe stay in my bed all day.

Time is fluid. It will escape us if we’re not careful. And so the way that I counteract some of this “I don’t know what to do” is by having something to do. I use a day planner, I use a paper planner. I learned that through a tutoring session with my daughter once and I use it to map out how do I want to use the hours of the day in which I’m going to be productive. I’m not expecting a 10-hour productive day for myself right now, but I expect three or four hours a day that I can get something done.

I learned from people I spoke with who had been through a career crisis, to just say, okay, you have to have something you want to get done every day and write it down. This offers discipline and structure in a time where that’s not available otherwise.

There’s a short game we’re playing and there’s a long game we’re playing. The short game is around mitigating the crisis, figuring out how to get back to work in an appropriate, suitable way as soon as possible. And I think there is a longer game of figuring out through this process of my next step, what do I gain in terms of capability to be able to do this again?

We might have to be thinking about making career changes. I think that there are sectors of the economy that are going to be really slow to come back. And so it’s hard to know now if they’ll never come back. But I think we’re going to have to be all thinking about variety and versatility.

I think now’s a great time to network. I think people are confused. They are lonely and they are desperate for connection, which is a wonderful time to extend yourself and figure out your offer and your ask.

With life coming to a screeching halt we’re forced to reckon with how much of that chaos we’re recreating, how much of that busy-ness was self-inflicted?

I ask this question often: what is work worth doing for you? What is work worth doing? What are the things in your day that are worth doing? And I offer that to people even in great economic times to say, you know, how do you want to spend your day?

This is the opportunity to say to yourself, okay, if I have to start again, how do I want things to be? Where do I want to be contributing? What kind of value do I want to be adding to the work, to the world in exchange for salary and paycheck? How do I want my joyful pleasure leisure time to be, who do I want to be around? How do I want to take care of myself? That’s what we can be doing now. There’s too much churn to really know, in my view, exactly what we should be doing externally other than keeping our ties warm, talking to people, having a few laughs over zoom. Like I think we should do all those things. And ask yourself these questions, what is work worth doing? What is, what is, how am I supposed to be spending my time at this stage in my life, in this season of my life? These are really important questions.

The thing that I learned from studying people was that they were learning to manage their minds. They were learning to take action even though it felt sometimes against their nature and they were doing things to change their outcomes. Sometimes, I think we change our thoughts to change our actions. Sometimes, we take action and we reverse engineer our thoughts. And I love having that conversation because there’s a lot of people would say, just change your thoughts and then your actions will be different. Sometimes. And sometimes it’s like, you know what, I’m just going to pretend that I’d love to work out every day for like two months. And then eventually my thoughts will change. But if I had tried to condition myself the other way around, I would still be sitting on my couch all day.


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