What Does Our Delay Say About Career Development and Mental Health?
It’s been so long that we have posted anything that you may have forgotten you’ve subscribed to our blog on career development and mental health. We hope you are well and have coped as best you can with the many concerns accompanying the pandemic.
We are currently working on a process to help us be more consistent about posting. We started by reminding ourselves that every decision is a career decision. We’re now self-administering a micro-career development intervention involving:
- intention clarification (what do we really want these posts to achieve? what goals should we create?),
- habit formation (how can we remove the choice to do something else, like listening to interviews with great guitarists or watching videos of Samoyed puppies, from the blogging endeavour? how do we use our “rational” selves to override our “impulsive” selves?),
- expectation management (how good is good enough? what sacrifices to other goals will we make if our expectations are too high for this goal?),
- productivity (how can we best get this work done? how can we be efficient and still find enjoyment and meaning in the endeavour?), and
- collaboration management (how do we know when to get our heads together and when to get our individual heads down to work?).
You likely help your clients with these kinds of concerns every day. Career development work is often perceived as an endeavour of making “big” decisions, but the rubber hits the road with the decisions and actions undertaken right now. Our preferred futures, for example, may include stimulating thought and research regarding career development and mental health. We cannot decide that this will happen, however, no more than we can decide to be astronauts. All we can decide is a process, and all we can act on is the next step in the process. If writing a blog post is the next step, doing anything else risks diverting our progress.
Our delay in writing blog posts is a small example of the kinds of issues that arose during the pandemic. The shift to working from home has removed or disrupted structures provided by the workplace. Humans appear to need structure (for social psychologist Marie Jahoda, the first to theorize specifically about ideal mental health, “time structure” is a key requirement for mental health). Those who figured out how to create their own structures early in the pandemic were likely better off from a mental health perspective than those who did not. The “ability effects” of having ways and means to address structure as well as intentions, goals, expectations, productivity, and relationships are a result of career development processes, and they are helping people sustain their mental health in rough times.