Investing in You

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With change comes opportunity—and we're certainly living in a time of change.

Between layoffs, restructuring and working from home, the pandemic has given everyone a chance to think about what they want to do with their life. While it's not all been easy, experts find this is the perfect time to invest in you, your career and your well-being.

Stepping Up

Companies everywhere are reevaluating their teams as they get back on their feet and look to hire strong leaders, notes Tanya Horan, Corporate Education Manager at Davenport University. "Every conversation we've had, companies are asking themselves, do I have the right team in place?"

It's your chance to shine. As doors close for lackluster employees, they're opening for strong, enthusiastic workers. It could be as simple as asking for a promotion or applying for jobs you wouldn't normally expect to get.

If you're worried you don't have "all the bells and whistles," seek leadership training. If you're looking for a promotion, talk to your supervisor about it. Sometimes, Horan says, simply asking, "Does our company pay for leadership training?" is a start. "When you ask, you're opening the door for your boss to see you as a leader."

If they tell you no, take a moment to consider if you're with the right company.

"It's about taking advantage of the opportunity and being strategic," Horan said. "What I'm hearing from business owners is they want to have the right people in place to help them recover."

Starting Fresh

If you were laid off or think you're in the wrong line of work, you might consider entrepreneurship.

"We've been surprised by the number of people calling us to start a business," said Bonnie Nawara, CEO of Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women.

Many people are telling her they've had time "to just sit and think about things." Becoming an entrepreneur may pose difficulties, yet working for yourself could allow the freedom you've desired and your business could become a valuable community asset.

If a business idea is floating in the back of your mind, there are ample resources. Intro to GROW, among the nonprofit organization's virtual classes, is designed to set you on the right path. Thirty-year-old GROW offers lending, training, support and other assistance to entrepreneurs.

Nawara says the best work is being done by those who are solving a problem. You can fill a hole by starting your own business, if you're so equipped.

Taking Care

Not making career changes? You can still invest in your well-being.

"Crisis is a time to build character," said leadership coach Suzann Foerster. "When your back is against the wall, that's when you really see what you're made of. You have to decide how you're going to make meaning out of it."

As difficult as this time is for us all, we're far enough in to turn grief into resiliency. Foerster suggests thinking back on what you've done differently since this all began. Decide what you'd like to sustain—such as the self-care routine you finally established or the time you spend with family—and what you'd like to avoid repeating. If you haven't been taking care of yourself, start now.

This crisis isn't over yet.

"I'm really concerned for peoples' mental health, because without healthy strategies, people turn to unhealthy things," Foerster said.

There are books to read, mentors to help guide you, and professional groups such as Inforum or your local Chamber of Commerce.

Step back and take stock of what's really important. Foerster realized her credit card bill had gone down significantly, meaning she likely spent money on things she really didn't need.

"There are these opportunities that makes us realize the fragility of things, and how can I be more prepared next time?

"It's a time to reevaluate priorities and notice how it impacted you and what you make of it."

Josh Veal is the managing editor of Revue and a former nonprofit reporter. He keeps in the know on local restaurants, breweries and venues through ample firsthand experience. Josh enjoys cocktails on the porch, graphic novels, social justice and biking through nature.

This article originally appeared in the Aug/Sept 2020 issue of West Michigan Woman.


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