One of the times we need to be courageous, compassionate and connected in the world of work and business is when we are ‘between gigs’. In a world of work where our identity is often strongly tied to the title and workplace we currently inhabit – to have neither can seem to have lost status and purpose. This space can feel empty, lonely and being there means susceptibility to a wide range of moods. Navigating this liminal space – a transitional space – means navigating uncertainty and ambiguity. Precisely at the time when you might feel desperate for stability and clarity.
To be in such a space is often to be labelled ‘unemployed’ – perceived as a status downgrade.
I offer you a new way of looking at things. With a Self unLimited perspective – you are self-employed regardless of who pays you – you are instead in a ‘business development’ phase. You get to define how ‘business development’ is about finding the next gig (akin to sales and marketing); and/or about developing yourself and what you offer (akin to product development and capability development).
You can choose to turn what seems unstructured time, into structured time with purpose. If you typically worked 40 hours a week; then re-purpose those hours into ‘business development’ work. To have some structured time can create an aspect of stability – a raft, you might say, in a sea of uncertainty; there is little benefit in having nothing to hold onto.
Utilise that structure to attend to many areas of your workscape which may have been neglected while you were busy with the last gig. Maybe it’s time to reconnect with professional colleagues who have been meaningful in your life (Relationships Responsibility). Maybe it’s time to consider if a new direction is what this opportunity affords you (Reign Responsibility). If you left the gig because things weren’t going so well, maybe there are Values and Value to re-examine about what you expect and what you get (Rules Responsibility & Revenue Responsibility).
You can also be intentional with your unstructured time so that you are renewed and invigorated rather than drained and depressed. Take the time to chill, relax, unwind, disconnect. Yep, I’m advocating doing nothing. Maybe doing nothing in a place you’ve never been or with people you don’t know. Be open, curious, exploratory – who knows what might emerge and what goodness might be discovered!
So why did I start by saying courage, compassion and connection were important?
It takes courage to keep your wits about you, when you feel like you have nothing to hold onto. Think of the liminal space as like the trapeze artist whose let go of one swinging bar and not yet caught the next one. We all hold our breaths when we see this in the circus.
Courage is also needed to stand up to the many ‘shoulds’ that appear. You know them – “I should go online and submit my resume“, “I should be speaking to recruiters or agents”, “I should be doing something“, and so on. Many of these messages pop up in this space because you’re feeling unsettled. Sometimes they come from people around you, who want to give you their advice to help you leave this liminal space quickly. Don’t be afraid of liminal spaces – you can see these spaces as an opportunity for something new to emerge.
You’ll need compassion; mostly for yourself. Consider what is the kindest thing you can say or do for yourself when in a state of uncertainty. You are allowed to say No; to avoid things that don’t feel right; and to prioritise your well-being. You are allowed to feel negative emotions as well as positive ones. You might even need to give yourself permission to exercise compassion and to receive compassion. I recommend you lean on your really good friends and supporters who can exercise their compassion with kind words and deeds.
You’ll need connection to those good friends and supporters I mentioned, but also to what is true for you. There is plenty of advice around for people in this space, and while much is well-meaning – it just might not be right for you. So keep the connection between your heart and mind strong and clear. It takes effort and energy to make decisions about what is right – so the connections that bind your sense of well-being need to withstand unstable conditions.
The ‘between’ space often does not feel like a good space; however, it can be a good space if you allow for a different reality. As the chief navigator of your workscape – what will you choose?
The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.
~ M. Scott Peck
by Helen Palmer, Founder and Creator of Self unLimited