5 ways to keep your career on track during a crisis

5 Ways to Keep Your Career on Track During a Crisis

We all go through tough times during our lives, and for the most part, we figure out how to navigate the storm. Enduring challenging phases of life may leave you with some bumps and bruises but, in the long run, these challenging times can end up being a good thing. Making mistakes and going through hardships can teach you valuable life lessons – resulting in a more resilient, stronger and wiser version of yourself. However, not all tough times are created equal and some are more terrifying than others. Some tough times are so intimidating and horrific that we refer to them as a CRISIS – basically, a tough time on steroids. 

Losing a loved one, a life-threatening health diagnosis, being a victim to a crime, a natural disaster that destroys your home, bankruptcy, divorce, mental and/or physical illness – all of these are examples of a crisis that someone could potentially endure. Sometimes you can see a crisis coming from a mile away but, often a crisis is sudden and unexpected. Because these terrible things we call a “crisis” can strike without warning, most people are unprepared for the dramatic disruption it will bring to their daily lives.   

Regardless of what the crisis may be, the aftermath may seem unbearable to endure…. especially when you a have responsibilities and a job to keep. Dealing with feelings of stress, grief and pain (emotional and/or physical) during a crisis are hard enough – how can you possible manage your career on top of all that!?!?

Now What?

There is no “one size fits all” plan or solution when it comes to surviving a crisis. However, even though the convenient “one size fits all” option is not available, there are still plenty of ways you can cope during a crisis.  You just need to find what works best for you!!!

Here are a few tips on how to manage your professional life while going through a crisis…


1. Prioritize & Plan

man and woman having a casual office meeting and talking about their work

Start by listing out all your professional responsibilities, commitments and tasks that need to be completed. Once the list is done take some time to thoroughly review and follow these steps:

  • Identify which of these responsibilities, commitments and tasks are most important and most urgent. Block off the appropriate amount of time in your calendar to get these done. By doing this you are beginning to construct a plan. A plan will not only help you get things done more efficiently, but it will help to ease some of the panic and stress you may be feeling.
  • Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot get done. DO NOT over commit yourself - this will only make things worse.
  • Delegate and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out, in an appropriate manner, to your supervisor and/or team to communicate your plan and let them know what items you need help with.


2. Communicate Wisely with Your Employer

Everyone’s comfort level varies when it comes to discussing personal matters at work. In a crisis some people may feel the need to tell their boss every detail of their situation, and some prefer to keep everything private - it can be tricky finding a balance. Consider these points before you share the details of your situation.

  • Is your situation going to significantly impact your work life? If so, you may have to divulge some details of your situation.
  • Before you share – prepare.
  • Determine what details need to be shared, and what you can keep private.
  • Don’t over share - A crisis is hard enough; you don’t want to create an awkward workspace for yourself because you said too much.
  • Discuss your professional priorities, your plan for staying on task and areas you need help with (schedule adjustments, delegating non-priorities, etc.).


3. Take Care of Yourself

young man resting with eyes closed outdoors in the fall

It’s vital that you take care of yourself during a time of crisis – physically and emotionally. Make your health a priority by doing the following: 

  • Get some sleep! I know sleep doesn’t always come easy, but the effects of sleep deprivation can be devastating.
  • Break a sweat and relieve stress by doing something physical. Exercise is great for your body but will also do wonders for your head.
  • Make time for things you enjoy and the people you love You need to find some sort of joy during tough times – it will remind you what you are fighting for in the first place.
  • Be careful with alcohol and other vices – I’m not saying you need go cold turkey or anything but try not to overdo it.



“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent.
Caring for myself is an act of survival.”

Audre Lorde


4. Don’t be Ashamed to Seek Professional Help

two women sitting on the beach watching the sunset and talking 

Not all crises are created equal and some may be more than you can handle on your own – seeking professional help during this time should be considered an act of courage, not a sign of weakness. Professional therapy and counseling can provide much needed support and coping skills that are necessary in a time of crisis. Think of “seeking help” as problem solving – you are taking action to make an improvement. You will need all your emotional and physical strength during a crisis so, don’t be afraid to call for backup!



5. Practice Forgiveness

Forgive yourself for the mistakes you’ll make along the way. When crisis strikes it creates intense stress and you may not always be able to think clearly. You won’t always be perfect and there will be regrets – this is a part of life, crisis or no crisis. Reflect on what happened, but don’t dwell – instead, focus on how you can learn from these experiences and become better for it.


“In a time of crisis, we all have the potential to morph up to a new level
and do things we never thought possible.”

Stuart Wilde

 two hands together with palms up offering a yellow flower to represent kindness and caring

Last but, not least….

No matter how busy, stressed, unrested, anxious, depressed or burdened you may be – don’t forget to continue showing compassion for others. It’s highly likely there are others around you going through tough times as well. 

Reach out to them and remind them how strong they are, ask them how they are doing and really listen to them or, show compassion for them when they stumble. You’ll probably realize turning your attention towards helping someone else, will also make you feel better.

Lindsey Mashburn

Lindsey Mashburn is a Senior Recruiter and Business Development Manager for Marathon Consulting. Her focus is on recruiting “the best of the best” in the IT industry and partnering with clients to help them achieve their business goals. She is passionate about building strong, long lasting professional relationships that result in positive growth for her candidates, clients and Marathon alike. Outside of work Lindsey enjoys volunteering for several local charities and spending time with close friends and family. She is a graduate of Radford University and has a Bachelor of Science in Media Studies with a concentration in Advertising.

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