Judy Schoenberg and Linda Lautenberg
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The statistics are everywhere - and they’re staggering. By fall, women already accounted for the majority of jobs lost during the early days of pandemic. Then, in September, four times more women dropped out of the labor force than men. That’s over 865,000 of the 1.1 million total.

If you’re like us, this picture instills fear, rather than offering solutions.Where do we go from here?

There’s never been a better time to focus on yourself. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. The less time we have, the more we need to prioritize what matters most. We love the saying, “If you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready.” The best way to boost your career momentum -- whether you’re looking to return to the paid workforce, have been laid off, or want to make a pivot? Develop a “readiness mindset."

Having a ”readiness mindset” means planning for the future — keeping your eye on your long term goals, despite the challenges we’re facing. Don’t put your career on the shelf and hope you’ll figure it out later! Prioritize it now.

Here are five simple ways you can stay ready and plan for a next chapter (even now):

1. Find your “career bestie.”

If you share with other women about your struggles and are vulnerable, you’ll find many women feel the same way.

Is there someone who you can confide in - that you can lean on in your network right now? Someone removed from your day-to-day life, who can be objective and help you think through your next steps. Think friend, mentor, advisor.

2. Develop micro-goals.

It may be overwhelming to focus on big picture goals right now. Set micro goals. One surefire way to stick to your intentions? Write them down. Better yet, share them with another person to hold you accountable and increase your chance of success by 65%!

Try the SMART approach for goal setting: Specific, Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; and Timely. SMART goals help you clarify your ideas and focus your efforts.

3. Put YOU back into your calendar. 

What we spend time on is a reflection of what we care about. Sounds simple, but how many of us actually do this when it comes to ourselves? For our kids/friends/parents...anything! For us, well… maybe next week...

Schedule a half hour, three times a week, dedicated to your highest YOU priorities (writing a blog, working on your Linked In profile, etc.). If you block out that time, it’ll be yours! Your welcome.

4. Block your time. 

Ever hear of time-blocking? It's a method designed to give you more focus. Women are especially good at multitasking, but you’re 80% more likely to complete a task if you give it your total focus at any point in time. Once you schedule time for yourself, break it into blocks of time for specific tasks you want to accomplish - at a time of day you’re most productive. 

5. Invest in one learning activity for the next month.

Growth? Not optional! As much as it feels like life is at a standstill now, make the most of this time. Come up with one new thing you want to learn in the next month. Sign up for free webinars and training -- there’s so much opportunity now to attend classes and events through virtual platforms.

Investing in yourself -- even when it feels hard or seems like there’s no time -- is one of the best returns on investment you can make!

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Judy Schoenberg, EvolveMe Co-Founder, is a women’ leadership expert and career advisor.  She took a leap after a significant tenure as a nonprofit executive to start a next chapter as an entrepreneur. Formerly, she led programming for women returning to work in the social impact sector. Judy co-founded Evolve to give women in midlife the program she wishes she’d had when making her change. Learn more about Judy at: http://www.evolveme.work

Linda Lautenberg, EvolveMe Co-Founder, is committed to using her business and relationship-building skills to help women find their next career chapter. A career returner from  a successful finance career, Linda relaunched at a social impact startup (where she met Judy!), helping other women returners find meaningful work. At Evolve, she’s thrilled to pay it forward to women in career transition.  Learn more about Linda at http://www.evolveme.work

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