Are You in Charge?

When times are tough does an inner victim take over, or do you take charge of your own destiny?

Economically times are tough now, particularly if you work within the public sector. There is a high level of uncertainty about security of employment, future roles, and the knowledge that, even if your job is safe, perhaps adequate funding to do it is not.

 In short, it’s not currently a great place to be. I work within the public sector a lot, indeed I was a manager and practitioner in both, and my heart goes out to the individuals who are coping with the uncertainty that now hovers over them. This post is dedicated to all those facing huge uncertainty; many people in the private sector will find it resonates too.

How to Take Charge?

One of the reasons we find it so challenging is because we feel we have no control over events; it feels like we’re on the back foot, waiting to react to events as they occur. And that makes us feel helpless. And feeling helpless makes us feel like a victim, possibly like a child, which in turn saps our confidence and leaves us feeling inadequate: less able to cope with what may be coming. A vicious cycle.

I have lots of coaching clients at the moment who feel very vulnerable and exposed; and as their confidence levels dip so does their ability to cope.

A common reaction is to try and ignore what is happening, to stay in denial for as long as possible. A certain amount of ostrich like behaviour is normal, but for your own self respect and sanity, take back some control.


Knowledge is power and empowering. You need some information that is particular to you before you make any decisions, or are bounced into making decisions! Simply exploring all your options in case your job disappears does not make it any more like to happen. Facing your fears does put you in control!

Here are some questions it’s worth knowing the answers to:

  • How much do you actually need to live on?
  • What are your regular outgoings?
  • What is your status vis a vis redundancy? Do you know what your entitlement would be if redundancy was on offer/proposed?
  • How do you look after yourself best, keep yourself well and manage your stress levels?
  • Are you currently doing any of those things? Or planning to do them?
  • Who are the friends who support and sustain you? Your radiators?
  • How have you coped with significant life change in the past (and you will have coped with lots of changes!)
  • What’s your worst fear about the changes afoot? Is it possible loss of income? Role? Status? Companionship? Stimulation?
  • What would you love to do if you weren’t in your current role?

If you can answer all of those questions you will be well on the way to taking back some of the control that uncertainty wrests from you. You can’t do much about the economic situation we find ourselves in, or the political decisions being made which affect your life.

But you can CHOOSE how you react!

Nobody can take your ability to hold your own thoughts away from you. And you can make a choice about those thoughts. I don’t mean some trite ‘think beautiful thoughts and change the universe’ philosophy. No, instead I am talking about holding onto to your sense of self, not giving away your own power; being aware that you are so much more than the sum of your parts and the job description you have, and making the choice not to be a victim!

If you find yourself in a time of uncertainty I hope the above is of some use to you. If this is a situation you have previously experienced it would be great to hear how you came through, what worked and what didn’t.  I am currently writing a programme to help employees survive and thrive in times of uncertainty. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

If you manage staff then this may be of interest!


Posted on July 19th, 2010 by

4 Responses to “Are You in Charge?”

  1. Gee Backhouse says:

    Realising that you can CHOOSE how you react is such a key element – great post! We’d all do well to give some time to your list of questions as part of a regular health-check! They serve to open the mind to possibilities and free us from our limitations. Thank you.

  2. Jayne says:

    Just when I was feeling at an all time low – I received your newsletter and it gave me a ‘lift’. Many thanks

    • Jane says:

      Jayne, what a lovely comment, thank you. I hope you feel happier soon. Life is full of ups and downs but the one thing we know is ‘this too will pass’. That little phrase gets me through some of the harder times in life. Take care. Jane

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