How to Flip the Switch on the “She-cession” and Make Fall 2020 Yours

Updated: Aug 6




Yesterday I listened to a webinar about diversity and inclusion and the future of work post- COVID while I was taking a shower. Yep. I felt I’d crossed some sort of threshold.


I could now check the box for the ultimate multi-tasking feat: working mom running a small business while managing two young boys at home for the summer. Until...I called my Evolve co-founder Linda and she’d just webi-showered too!!


Have you been squeezing in time for self-care (since when are showers self-care?) and work/job search? For us it’s been between lunch prep for our kids, dealing with household issues and keeping up volunteer commitments. We’re sure you have your own “never thought I’d be doing this” stories!


You can’t make this stuff up. Because it’s your reality now. And our collective reality.


Just when you thought it couldn’t get crazier than Summer 2020, you have the uncertainty of what back to school will look like looming in the background, making it hard to focus on any part of your own future - including your career.


It has a name

What we’ve all been feeling has a name. She-cession. What’s a she-cession? C. Nicole Mason, the president and chief executive of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research coined the term "she-cession" to describe the step backward in women’s progress for gender equality at work.


There’s been article after article discussing how mothers’ work lives will be negatively affected by COVID-19 and that this will have a lasting impact on their career trajectories:


“Coronavirus is killing the working mother”...“Pandemic could scare a generation of working mothers”... “Working moms are struggling to engage at work -- and it will cost the economy $341B”.


If you’re like us, these headlines instill fear, rather than offering solutions.


Where’s the roadmap for where we go from here?

A recent study spearheaded by Luminary, a forward-thinking women’s co-working space in NYC (that Linda and I visited regularly when life was normal) underscores how this pandemic is impacting the future of work, remote schooling, and opportunities for women entrepreneurs.


A majority of women:


  • feel COVID-19 has created anxiety about their job status

  • say little learning and development is prioritized by their company

  • report NOT growing their network due to COVID-19

  • say that COVID-19 will impact their career long-term

  • are more hesitant to ask for a raise in the current climate


Do any of these sound like you? You're not alone.


And with 54% of parents considering alternatives to traditional schooling this fall and 61% of parents considering scaling back work to take on more educational responsibilities at home, the future can feel hopeless.


Some women, especially those with younger children, may be forced out of the workforce entirely due to lack of child care. According to a new study, “mothers with young children have reduced their work hours four to five times more than fathers. Consequently, the gender gap in work hours has grown by 20 to 50 percent.


And the impact on women of color is even greater.


One glimmer of hope is in policy change-- making paid leave available for more families so they can care for their children while they’re remote schooling. Paid leave isn’t just about parents and kids, but all employees being able to take care of themselves and family members when they fall sick. And during the pandemic this is needed more than ever.


It’s clear the pandemic has unearthed systemic issues and inequalities in our health care and education systems. You can press for change and make your voice heard on these fronts.


And you can work towards change in your own life too. If you’re not feeling strong yourself, you can’t give energy to others.


How can you even think about this now?


The upside - flip the switch

With this much change and uncertainty, it’s enough to make you want to put your head under a blanket and hide!


The flip side is to be the most ready person when we come out on the other side.


Who will you be?

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 the things that matter most.


It sounds so easy -- why don’t we just do it? Can we do this for ourselves -- even now? We’ll help you!


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 furloughed / 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! Here are five simple ways you can stay ready, take control and make the fall work for you -- even if it feels you have no time to focus on moving forward in your career:


1. Create micro-goals. During this time it might be hard to focus on those “big, audacious goals”. But you can set micro goals now. One surefire way to stick to your goals is to write them down.


Better yet, share them with another person to hold you accountable, and increase your chances of completing your goals by 65%!


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


For example, if you want to update your resume, set a SMART goal for it and you’ll get a more targeted result. Be “specific”. Rather than saying you want to “update your resume,” which is vague, say you want to “update your resume as a career changer for a new role in sales by Labor Day.” That gives you a clearer picture of what it should look like when you’re done.


2. Schedule yourself back into your calendar. What we spend time on is a reflection of what we care about. A colleague of ours who works full time at a startup once told us she wanted more time with her kids so she scheduled time in her calendar when she was taking them to school every morning.


Sounds simple, but how many of us actually do this when it comes to ourselves? For our kids, our friends, our parents...anything! For us, well...maybe next week...


How about making calendar dates with yourself to stay on track?


You’ve dreamed of starting a blog (even if, initially, it’s for your eyes only) but you can’t seem to find time to write more than a sentence or two. Schedule a half hour, three times a week, dedicated to writing the first draft. If you block out that time, it’ll be yours! Your welcome.


3. Time blocking. 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 given point in time.


Once you schedule time into your schedule for yourself, go back and schedule blocks of time for specific tasks (or groups of tasks) that you want to accomplish.


Start with high level priorities and schedule them for the time of the day you feel most productive. Then slot in time for simpler tasks (email, social media, etc.). Be sure to schedule breaks between tasks (not just a lunch break!). Tell others you’re practicing time blocking so they know why you might not be available.


4. Who’s your buddy? Wonder why there aren’t more women shouting from the rooftops about how difficult the juggle is right now? If you share with others and are vulnerable, you’ll find so many women feel the same way.


Is there someone who you can confide in - that you can lean on right now? It doesn’t have to be your best friend.


Sometimes, someone more removed from your day to day life, who can be more objective, is the best person to help you think through your next steps. Think buddy, friend, mentor, advisor.


You need each other now more than ever. After months in quarantine, connections with others is critical to staying motivated.


5. Invest in one learning activity for the next month. We all need to keep growing. As much as it feels like so much of our daily life is at a standstill now, life is not going to stop and magically wait for you until we’re fully out of quarantine -- whatever that means!


Invoke the Girl Scouts motto: “be prepared”. You always need to be prepared for the next opportunity so you don’t get caught short.


Start where you are; but just get started! Come up with one thing you want to learn in the next month.


For example, if you’re considering a new industry, research trending organizations. Join industry associations on LinkedIn to stay up to date with what’s happening in that field now. Sign up for free webinars and training -- there’s so much more opportunity now to attend high profile meetings 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.


And the message it sends goes way beyond yourself. It shows the world you’re worth the time and effort - YOU are worth prioritizing.


The Reinvention Collective -- Here’s the shot in the arm you need for the fall!


Evolve is making it easy to keep up career progress - no matter what stage you’re in.


Get started now! Join us as an Evolve member. There are still spots left at the Founding Member rate of $27/month. You’ll get bi-monthly challenge worksheets + virtual coffee meetups with our community to keep you going and get you ready for the fall. Head to our website: https://www.evolveme.work/


Coming soon: Join us in October for the Evolve Reinvention Collective, a live virtual course based on the Evolve DARE Method for career reinvention. You'll gain the clarity, confidence, professional toolkit, and network you need to jumpstart your career transition. And what’s so critical: a like-minded community of women who’ll be invested in you long after the training is done.


It’s the program we wish we’d had when we were reinventing our careers in midlife several years ago and were flat out stuck. Join our mailing list to be notified as soon as registration opens! https://www.evolveme.work/


For women in midlife who dream of a next career chapter (and the community, structure, and tools to make it happen!)

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