Confused. Lonely. Sad. Unsure. Bored. Overwhelmed. These are some of the feelings that we’ve all been having as we navigate the new reality. And what can help you cope with them? Other women. Whether it’s issues related to job loss, financial security or how to work remotely while juggling all the demands at home, when you reach out to like-minded women, you’ll be re-inspired and your outlook will shift. At the heart of the Evolve community is collaboration -- and our commitment to building ways to stay connected now is stronger than ever. Social distancing to us includes social solidarity!
Linda and I founded Evolve because we found the process of going career transition isolating -- and that was before a global pandemic hit! We knew that bringing women together who were facing similar issues at midlife could be transformative. Through our programming, which is organized around group experiences, we’ve seen the power of women investing in each others’ career success and going further on their own as a result.
And now, staying connected during times of change can not only support career advancement, but it can help build empathy and resilience -- the foundation needed for strong relationships whether in person or virtually. By mirroring each others’ challenges, we become stronger. We don’t feel as if our feelings are only our own -- they are collective experiences that can be understood within a larger community.
Last Friday I had an in person meeting set up with a woman with whom I used to sit on a nonprofit board. She’s no longer on the board but has been a trusted advisor and mentor to me. I always cherish our conversations. She’s about twenty years my senior and not adept at Facetime but we did our “virtual tea” and I felt uplifted after our chat. When in doubt- reach out! This is also a time to learn new things or return to ways of being that we’ve left behind!
Here are ways that we’re trying to stay connected on a human-to-human level in work and in our personal lives:
Virtual coffee chats! While we can’t have in-person interaction now, we have a great opportunity to get in touch with people who don’t live near us. Schedule phone or video chats for morning coffee or lunch breaks. When was the last time you spoke into that iphone as an actual phone? We Gen Xers can do this! For video chats, use Zoom, Google Chat, FaceTime, Skype. Virtual video chats give us the emotional connection we need via facial expressions and tone of voice.
Virtual happy hour. We’ve had to create our own schedules and lack of structure can make it challenging to mark the beginning and end of workday at home. Schedule a virtual “happy hour” at the end of the day with other women in your social and professional circles. It’s a great time to pour your favorite drink, pull up a cozy chair and chat. Make this meet up in a different room from where you do your work and it will feel even more relaxing!
When in doubt, reach out. Now is the time to check in on your friends, relatives, and coworkers by text or email to let them know you are thinking about them and also ask for the support that you need. Who are the women in your life who have supported you in times of change? Maybe it’s a group of friends from college? From a workplace earlier in your career? Maybe it’s women that you started creating relationships with in person before the outbreak? In order to continue the momentum you started, reach out to her and see if there is a way to collaborate and support each other’s work.
Accountability partner: We all have women in our social and professional lives who offer different benefits. Some people we go to for support. Others we go to for humor. And other women always have the right thing to say to help relieve our self-doubt. Identify who those women are for you. Who’s your wing woman when it comes to keeping you on track with your goals? Is there a woman in whom you can rely on to hold you accountable for what you want to achieve professionally if you are not working with a team now? She’ll be invaluable to get you through this time.
Get back to basics and write a card or a letter. Linda and I wrote cards to girlfriends whose birthdays were this week and sent them through snail mail. While last week this kind of communication seemed archaic, any of us would welcome getting a handwritten card in the mail. Taking the time to craft thoughtful handwritten notes is a way of making your communication that much more special.
Take that course online! Taking a course online is a great way to skill up during this slower time. It’s also a way to have a shared experience with a group of people. Linda and I are taking The Science of Well-Being, one of the most popular Yale University classes - for free! There are many opportunities to take free or reduced rate courses now and it’s a good way to keep growing and meet new people who have shared interests -- there are also bound to be different generations coming together in online classes so it’s a great way to learn from people who have different perspectives than you.
Create a virtual book club. Women’s book clubs have been ways to come together and share experiences, drink wine and…..sometimes discuss a book! Now is the time to pick a theme and invite five or six women to join you to explore new topics together. Typically, book clubs fous on fiction. Now is a good time to ask friends and colleagues about their recommendations for non-fiction books to give you that boost of learning when you have the time to take it in. Our favorite right now is Pivot, by Jenny Blake, a former Google employee who took a leap to become an entrepreneur and help others do the same!
Give back. Reaching out to help others is a great way to connect and feel a sense of purpose right now. While everyone is trying to do their part to curtail the spread of the pandemic and be physically distant, there are ways to give back that don’t require in person interaction. Extend a helping hand to women across the generations such as an elderly woman who needs help navigating zoom or Facetime to speak with her family. Or others who may need help ordering groceries.
Join professional webinars. Stay current and relevant with your skills by joining industry webinars. Even if the topic is not 100% on point to the direction you want to go in, it’s important to stay on top of the changes in your field during the outbreak and anticipate how you might need to adjust going forward. It’s also a good way to network with people you might not come across even at in person events since meeting online draws across regions and sectors. Case in point: Evolve’s Midday Momentum series - see our website for details.
Be part of a like-minded virtual community. Maybe you aren’t someone who joins social media groups on Linkedin and Facebook. Now is the time to research what groups exist that match your interest and apply to join. We’ve created a new Evolve Slack community so
women can stay connected with each other and continue to tell their stories. Being part of a dynamic that shares a common interest or goal makes us feel more connected, safe, and understood.
Check out https://www.evolveme.work to learn more! Join Slack with us today: