Storytelling is key to career change

As a career counsellor in private practice for the past 25 years, thousands of individuals have confided in me about their motivations for working. For most of us, it boils down to this: we work because we have to, simple as that, in order to pay our bills and provide for our loved ones.

Until now, most of us have had no real reason to question a way of life that is organized in its most simplistic form around our potential to get a good education, secure a stable job, purchase a house, grow a family, and follow a life script of working and buying as a reward for what we do. This is The American/Canadian Dream—‘work hard, play by the rules, get ahead.’

Except that getting ahead is getting much more difficult (even impossible) for many of us due to various social, economic and technological forces. For some, the link between work and wages amounts to ‘wage slavery’ if the work is dull, dirty or dangerous…while others feel stuck in jobs with ‘golden handcuffs,’ because the wages and benefits are too good to give up no matter how much they dislike the actual work.

Even for those who like their work, we must acknowledge that depression—often caused by work-related stress and burnout—is now the #1 disability in North America, costing billions in productivity losses, billions more in social welfare, while eroding family security.

Adding fuel to that fire, we find wages stagnate while housing costs soar and inequality between the very rich and the rest of us increases dramatically. We lose our job security when companies move their operations to cheaper labour markets. Robots are replacing unionized factory jobs. Automation is replacing white-collar jobs. If you doubt it, subscribe to Undone free weekly online mag to track these trends & issues.

All this is now business as usual. And we accept this entirely, well…because we have to.

Really? Do we, as individuals, have to accept this state of affairs as rational and inevitable? Does winning at life mean we must accept this story of work with all its built in assumptions? One of the most effective ways that I know for stepping outside this employment trap is to write out your story and get it analysed for a pattern of meaning.

Storytelling opens up a space for challenging our current identity, for re-interpreting our life experiences in a way that opens up space for new career options. You can change your career, your job, and your life without losing money or status or health or whatever is near and dear to you. There is evidence to prove it. There is the example of thousands who have done it.

In short, your story is not fixed but fluid. You are not trapped but, instead, you have access to many opportunities that may be more rewarding and enriching than the one you have now. We make our story because we make our life. We have choices.

You can create and live a better story!

How to quickly switch sectors or industries

By choice, chance or job loss, many individuals move from one sector to another (e.g. public sector to non-profit), or from one industry to another, (e.g. construction to accounting).  Here are 5 ways to make your switch easier and faster:

1. Identify your target sector and some key organizations that represent the largest or best employers in that sector…then start talking to people in that sector and/or companies.  Find out as much as you can about the main levers that push and pull that sector through our economy.  Why does it exist? What do the key players do in it?  What are the main business models that allow them to operate successfully?  What are the key trends and issues in that sector?  Ask for advice, tips and tricks on breaking into your targeted sector.

2. Align your accomplishments, strengths and preferences with what you learn about that sector.   Think strategically about how to leverage your skills into that sector—which skills are transferrable?  Don’t forget about soft skills — like leadership, communication, and teamwork.  Then ask yourself the following question:  What do I want in this sector AND why?  Transition is not easy so you need to be motivated and determined to make the change to another sector.

3.  Step back from your emotions and look at your situation objectively.  In my experience, this is where individuals need the most help because they don’t feel confident about their chances—they focus on their inadequacies and fear of rejection, instead of focusing on transition as a project, like any other project that can be completed given the right strategies and tactics.  For example,  given your age, education, and experience, what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to achieving this goal in a reasonable timeframe?   What time, money, and energy from you is required to make the shift? For example, are you missing any hard skills or credentials for that sector?  If so, plan to acquire them through further education and budget the necessary time, energy and money for re-training.  Remember, you’ve already got lots of experience so find economical ways of building on what you already know and do.  Start with a few quick steps—what can you do now in the next 2 weeks to move this project forward?

4. Use your ‘goodwill’ network.  Most of the people you already know will not work in the sector that you are targeting.  But your current contacts—the people who like, trust, and respect you—are likely to have surprising connections across industries and will be more than happy to help you in your job search.  Make it easy for them to do so:  “Here’s the sector I’m targeting, here’s some leading organizations in that sector that I’d like to work for, and here are some job titles in that sector that seem to best match my combination of previous work experience and training.  Now, do you know anyone I can talk to?” Use professional social networks online, like LinkedIn to identify mutual connections and ask for warm introductions to the people who matter. Do the same offline by looking for venues where these kind of fish swim, such as local chapters of professional associations, and attend some meetings with the goal of asking Qs like those listed above in #1.

5. Communicate to others in a clear, concise and coherent manner.  Ask questions first, listen to answers, then be prepared to discuss how your background lends itself to success in your chosen sector.  Highlight previous achievements that give a picture of you in action solving challenges or issues relevant to this sector, so that others can see how your knowledge and skills are transferable to the needs and priorities in their organization.  This is how you build rapport with people, how you get introductions to hiring managers, and how to generate invitations to interview and, eventually, job offers! 

It’s not about you selling yourself…it’s about you tapping into the needs and priorities of decision-makers in your targeted sectors.

Individuals change sectors or industries all the time, so there’s no reason that you can’t do so too. 

Doom, boom or in-between for 2017 jobs?

Where will the jobs be this year? What are the jobs of the future? What will they pay? These were just a few questions posed to me on Boxing Day by a technology reporter based in New York.

But who can read the future accurately? For example, the top 10 in-demand occupations of 2016 had not yet been invented in 2000, jobs like Gamification Specialist.

What we can do is look at broad social, technological and economic trends and draw some conclusions that may assist you with your career decision-making over the next year or so.

On the doom side

The spectacular economic growth of the past 100 years that was fuelled by technological innovation in electricity, telephones, motorized transport, computers and high finance is now spent. Since the economic meltdown of 2008, the economies of the West have been stagnant due to job loss, lower levels of real earnings, higher poverty rates among working people, cuts to benefits—leaving many struggling to afford the basics.

Of course, loss for some is gain for others. Banks and lenders flourish in such times, as do certain retail chains, entertainment franchises, real estate niches, and other sectors.

Governments will struggle to tame the unruly forces of automation and globalization that have shredded job security as the foundation of liberal democracies for decades, as global inequality between the haves and have-nots widens and aging populations put increasing pressure on taxpayers

In short, good secure jobs will be hard to come by and wages will not grow significantly in most sectors, so public and personal debt will skyrocket.

On the boom side

Many pundits claim the future looks bright — driven by a new age of invention, especially in areas such as computing, robotics, materials and bioengineering.

Although young adults are finding expensive education does not necessarily lead to lucrative careers, those that choose STEM education are more likely to find occupations in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Work and gains are real and growing, according to this view, but they don’t show up in GDP because the myriad ways we serve and entertain each other on the web can’t be measured in conventional terms.

As wealth and education spread to Asia and other formerly poor regions of the world, the idea is that even we in the world’s richest nations will benefit. For example, certain stock markets and real estate sectors are booming due to foreign investors.

Your future

Wherever you fit on the spectrum between doom or boom, you are unlikely to experience a great deal of change in 2017. If you have a job now, you will likely keep that job throughout the coming year.

But the disruptions that are now working their way through our economies will affect you in surprising and unexpected ways the next 5-10 years, that is guaranteed.

How Big Trends Produce Big Career Changes

Robots are already building cars in the USA and delivering food in Japanese restaurants. Millions of low-skill manufacturing or service jobs are being replaced by robots that need far fewer workers to install, maintain and repair those robots. Driverless trucks and drones will do the same. Shared services like Uber and AirBnb are cutting deeply into traditional service jobs.

Knowledge workers are also vulnerable. Millions of IT jobs have been outsourced from North America to Asia. Social media destroyed the print newspaper industry. Robo-advisors guide clients through the steps of financial planning. During the next decade, high-skill routine jobs in hospitals, universities and law firms will also be automated, thereby eliminating thousands of professional positions. One British futurist predicts that children today will need to work until 100 at 40 different jobs!!!

Final outcomes are difficult to predict but changes are now occurring so quickly that our political and social leaders cannot respond adequately. For example, the cradle-to-grave job security that forms the foundation of our social order is crumbling before our eyes. Massive dislocation and disruption in the world of work is creating a ‘risk’ society throwing millions of individuals into precarious situations in terms of their ability to earn income.

We are moving from jobs that require a basic transaction between humans (think of how many times a day you perform a self-service task—at the gas station, bank, grocery store, cafeteria, online shopping—that once employed millions of workers) to an interactional economy. Think how hard it will be for robots to perform jobs that have a strong ‘emotional’ component, such as teachers, social workers, homecare assistants, palliative care nurses, and so on. These are just a few areas where people currently working in jobs vulnerable to social, economic and technological trends can start identifying future opportunities.

Helping individuals find re-employment quickly in the same field has been the focus of career services for decades, such as helping a laid off journalist become a Media Relations Specialist with a large corporation, a job change that involves “crossing the street” to work for an organization that was covered previously by the journalist as a newspaper reporter.

A career change, by contrast, is more difficult and involves moving from one career path to something completely different; for example, a journalist with a weekend knack for fixing things might need to transition to a full-time career as an independent home renovator. If current trends continue, this shift from job change to frequent career change may require a significant change in learning skills. Career change is a more complex skill to learn than job search…but an increasingly necessary one.

That is why the field of career guidance is turning to narrative approaches for career change, like the one that I’ve been using for almost 25 years. If a person’s previous job experience does not guarantee future employment, then we must look for clues in their life experience to find a better fit and help them make a complete career change involving a change of job title, employer and regular job duties.

My narrative approach to career assessment involves a written analysis of a client’s stories to identify and define very specific elements of a motivational pattern. Each person’s pattern is unique, not dependent on previous skills or work experience; and avoids occupation, education, age, race or gender bias. As the economy changes, the ‘pattern’ is flexible enough to adapt to a variety of career options. How this works and why was the subject of my recently published research paper, which includes reports of positive career changes by this study’s participants:

IT Systems Analyst to Pet Groomer; Electrical Engineer to Public School Teacher; Occupational Therapist in Mental Health to Medical Research Project Coordinator; Desktop Publisher to Certified Financial Planner; Software Tester to Senior Product Marketing Manager; Medical Laboratory Assistant to Library Clerk; Printed Circuit Board Designer to Musical Therapist; Lab Technician to IT Support Analyst; and Senior Telecom Product Manager in a private sector high-tech company to Senior Director, Global Operations in an NGO.

Results of this research show that life-story writing as a career intervention is often accompanied by positive changes, such as more income; more congruence between job duties and values; an increase in positive emotions and a decrease in negative emotions; more clarity and confidence in career decision-making.

Don’t just react to negative trends in the world of work, be pro-active now by mining your life story for gold!

Shifting from no change to know change

We all know a cabbie, or an assembly-line worker, or someone in media who recently lost their job–they are all victims of disruptors. The workplace is suddenly a volatile site subject to changes occurring in dramatic fashion through technology, in the economy, or due to social, political, even natural disasters. And these disruptors to routine and predictability are unlikely to stop disrupting our jobs and security in the near future.

On the one hand, life goes on as normal—most of us get up, go to work, get a paycheque every two weeks, and live our lives in a predictable and lockstep manner through school, work, marriage, family, retirement. However, this repeating structure of stability is now subject to continual change, some of it going on beneath the surface of everyday life only to erupt into cataclysmic change sending millions of people out of work, such as the 2008 sub-prime financial crisis. Or, appearing suddenly, like a flood or a fire to change our lives briefly before things get back to normal.

Order and disorder

What is abundantly clear, I think, is our inability to control and predict the future in an accurate and reliable manner. No change in our work lives is not an option. Order and disorder are composites of the same reality. This applies to your career development as much as it applies to any complex system.

This means we, as individuals and as a community, need to learn about the nature of change. JobJoy is in the change business. Let us help you prepare for what is inevitable—career change—maybe not now, not this year…but it will happen. Career change is now a critical component of lifelong learning.

It is important to understand your past and how it has shaped your present in order to better prepare for your unpredictable future. As you know, I am a personal story analyst, one that puts much emphasis on identifying and defining your motivational pattern. When you understand your key success factors and how you work best, it is easier for you to adapt to the inevitability of change in your working circumstances.

You will lose your job, or have to change jobs, or move to another employer, or learn to work with different kinds of people, or replace a full-time income with a portfolio career. Understanding who and what you are in terms of your right work will help you adapt to new conditions, to new technologies, to new workpace requirements. Being agile and productive is the key to career success!

No change in your job is not an option. Your work circumsances will change! And you must change with them. Learn more about the nature of change and know how to change.

Career change: one step at a time

Each week I work with individuals who absolutely hate working at their organization — they are continually sick, or depressed, or cry regularly, or feel wounded, bullied or unsafe.

They usually feel that their ability to honour their authentic self is utterly impossible. They tell me that they simply do not want to go on working that way anymore!

But they do…
Why?

It’s quite simple—they don’t know what else to do. They think this is the only job that will pay them the level of compensation they need to maintain their lifestyle. They might have some other reasons, e.g. they like the people they work with, they sometimes feel challenged by work, they enjoy talking with their customers…but basically they feel trapped by golden handcuffs.

Feeling stuck is a trap

“I’m stuck, I’m shackled, I’m a slave to my pension. I have job security, but I do not enjoy the work that I am doing. I crave that creative side that seems to be missing from my life [my music, my hobby, my horses, my travel…take your pick] but I’m so drained by my job that I can’t find the energy or motivation to do anything about it.” These comments are shared by millions of employees in thousands of organizations.

Of course, we all need money to live in our society, and for many the benefits that come with government and corporate jobs are deemed essential for quality of life…who can argue with that?

But many people stay in jobs that crush them, make them sick, depressed, and unbalanced, only so they can keep a lifestyle that makes them sick in the first place and provides an insurance plan that covers them when they get sick.

Being trapped feels like an ‘all or nothing’ proposition: I’m trapped in this job because I don’t know what else that will make the same salary, so I do nothing and continue to suffer.

But that is not the reality. There are over 90,000 job titles operating in our economy—of course, they don’t all exist in the city where you live—but there are dozens of jobs you are suited for that you don’t even know about.

Ask yourself: Why aren’t I out there exploring as many other options, jobs and opportunities as possible?”

First Step

You don’t have to solve the whole problem in one go! Take the time to identify some better jobfits. That alone will ease the pain of your current situation. Career change is a process, take it one step at a time.

Here’s an easy first step: If you have a resume, take a coloured pen and highlight for me anything about your current and previous jobs that have been consistently satisfying or particularly enjoyable, i.e. job duties, projects, assignments; If there is nothing, that’s OK too. If you don’t have a resume, please do not spend time making one, just write items down for our session.

And write down anything you have done outside of work over the years that has been consistently satisfying, e.g. hobbies, sports, interests, volunteer activities, home projects, classes/assignments at uni/college/school.

Then call me 613-563-0584. In order to determine how I can best assist you with your career goals and priorities, I need to speak with you for an hour or so to go through your story in some detail.

This gives me a starting point for a basic assessment of your natural strengths and motivations. Then I can analyze your details to answer basic questions WHERE & WHAT: if you left your current job or are looking for a better one, where should you go? which orgs or work settings match your interests and values? and what should you do there? what are the specific job titles that best match your talents, experience, education, and other factors, such as your preferences, or values/priorities, and are in demand in the labour market.

At the end of the session, I can give you some specific advice on what jobs might be a good fit, and tell you what will serve you best in terms of next steps.

Career Repair: you already have the right tools

From our childhood to our current career, we tend to gravitate towards activities and projects that require our natural strengths. Why? Simple—we get pleasure from using our talents in situations that motivate us.

The problem is we do some things so naturally and effortlessly, we think, “Doesn’t everybody do it this way?” No, they don’t. You have a knack for achieving certain results using certain talents because that’s what energizes you—and you make it look easy. Other people might be able to do the same thing due to training or experience but it’s grunt work and drains them (they always wish they were doing something else).

Natural Strengths

For example, some individuals get energized by having an impact on the physical world. If there is a piece of equipment, or machinery, or a vehicle, or a household appliance that breaks down or is performing poorly, they repair it, or restore it to its original state. You can tell it energizes them because you can hear them humming, or whistling or singing, or just bouncing around happily as they do what comes naturally and easily to them.

If this talent is caught early in life and channeled into a particular vocation then recognized and rewarded by an employer, they might even end up with a long and happy career as an aircraft mechanic with an airline, or a pipe-fitter in a refinery, or a mechanic in the military, or a maintenance worker for public transit, or one of hundreds of jobs available from hundreds of different employers.

Even if they lose one job, they can quickly adapt or retrain for something similar in another sector because equipment, machinery, and vehicles will always wear out, or break down, or need replacing and require individuals who have a knack for impacting such physical objects with their natural talents and learned skills.

The same is true if you like to have an impact on people, or like to control how, when and where a project or plan will proceed. Or, if you are energized by pursuing and reaching a goal or a target. Or, if you get juiced by engaging in a process of discovering, developing or expressing.

True Job Security

Each general human inclination can be narrowed down to reveal your particular motivational pattern, and that pattern can be matched to dozens of specific jobs in specific work settings.

This is true job security. When you take the time to understand your motivational pattern then you don’t have to worry if you lose a job because you will already know what other sectors of the economy will recognize and reward you for what comes easily to you.

Don’t let our volatile economy catch you by surprise. Get a JobJoy career assessment done today so that you can do some long-term planning for real job security.

You already have in your hands the right tools to repair and grow your career. Put them to work in your favour.

How our lazy brains block career goals & what to do about it

We are creatures of habit because our brains make us that way!

Neuroscience shows that we are motivated to achieve and maintain a comfort zone because our brains equate that state of equilibrium with survival.

It’s only natural to resist change because the brain is hard-wired to respond to any stimuli or situation that disturbs our equilibrium. That’s why every news broadcast starts off with a “bad news” story—to get our attention! Our brains become alert to this news of danger, crisis, or threat at a personal level.

Earthquake in Nepal! Should I take shelter? Tornado in Texas! Should I batten down the hatches? Murderous rampage in Colorado! Should I lock my doors? Unless you or a loved one is in close proximity to these events (very unlikely) then these stories do not really effect you in any practical way.

But we can’t help listening, our brains automatically tune it. Broadcasters know it, and they use it. Why do they want us to be alert for the news broadcast? Not because the news items really matter to us but because they want us to be alert for the advertising messages that pay for the news broadcasts! The news is not a public service but a commercial one. It is a very effective way to collect ears or eyes and sell them to advertisers.

For some of us, this is Communications 101. But, even knowing this, we still listen. So, think about how many tens of thousands of hours of conditioning we have been subject to through such messaging! Our brains, broadcasters, advertising messages—these are all powerful forces to contend with and should not be underestimated.

Is it any wonder then that the prospect of losing a job, or having to look for a job, or making a career change strikes fear into the heart of anyone? Talk about crisis! Alarm bells go off when that state of affairs is disturbed—our jobs and careers go to the very heart of personal safety and stability.

The psychology of motivation

Our brains are naturally lazy and default to operations that require less energy. You’ve probably noticed this when driving a car: learning to drive takes a lot of concentration and energy but once learned we drive without really thinking about it.

While neuroscience research proves that we are meant to get in a groove and stay there, life does not cooperate. We now live in a ‘risk’ society characterized by high unemployment and a steady increase in contingent labour in volatile workplaces. Whether we like it not, more of us will have to change our jobs, our careers, our lives more often. Choosing or being forced to make a career change activates a fear response because the brain knows it’s going to have to expend a lot of energy to survive.

So, what’s the best way to deal with all this? Neuroscience and the psychology of motivation tell us to undo what we’ve learned and build a new habit. But, left on our own, we individually default back to our habits. Did you know, for example, that only 1 of 9 coronary bypass patients adopts healthier day-to-day habits after their surgery?

Changing our lives is not easy but it’s always easier when we do it with others. I focus on helping my clients build new career habits because our brains are also hard-wired to build new skills (aren’t we amazing!).

The Zeigarnik Effect

There is a concept in psychology called the Zeigarnik effect which is the ability of humans to finish a task once they’ve started—our brains resolve the tension between the present and a desired future of completion. That’s why somebody can learn to walk again after a stroke with months of rehab in small steps…literally!

Same thing with job search or career change, we can build new habits, new skills, that move us closer to a goal. It’s not rocket science, anyone can do it! The key is motivation, i.e. the desire to walk again.

That is the purpose of a JobJoy Report: to give you the desire to make a career change, to see with clarity the specific jobs and work settings that will recognize, reward and motivate you for what comes naturally and effortlessly.

Turning that desire into reality means working three major components to motivation: activation, persistence, and intensity. Once a new career is identified, we move into that space with deliberate, intentional, systematic and effective actions.
But start small, take an action, evaluate the result to see if it moves you closer to your goal or not. If it doesn’t move you closer, then look to see what is to be learned from that action, if anything, and adjust. If it does move you closer to your goal then what is the next action to take?

Unlearning old habits, learning new skills, this is the rhythm of successful change.

We persist through inevitable challenges and setbacks that are just part of life. Anyone who has ever had a goal (like wanting to lose ten pounds or run a marathon) probably immediately realizes that simply having the desire to accomplish something is not enough. Achieving such a goal requires the ability to persist through obstacles and endurance, to keep going in spite of difficulties. But there are certain times during the process where you turn up the heat, bear down on your goal, do your utmost to accomplish your goal.

Of course, finding another job or career is more complicated than that and depends on a lot of other things but the point is this: anyone can do it if they want to. The key is in your motivation.

Career change as a halfway house experience

I am working this year with several clients who describe their work life as a prison sentence: five days in the big house with weekend parole (ankle monitor attached!)

Career change ankle monitor

About 95% of offenders are eventually released from prisons to be integrated back into civil society. Many spend the last year or two of their sentence in houses on a street near you. These residences are known as ‘halfway houses’ because they represent a re-entry point between incarceration and freedom.

A halfway house offers transition programs to help offenders ‘let go’ of their prison identity through counselling. They get job training and work and pay rent as they develop a ‘new’ identity and learn to function in the ‘real’ world.

Career change is a similar process for many individuals who spend years imprisoned in a particular job role that defines who and what they are. Getting out of that prison also involves a letting go of one identity and developing a new one, not an easy task for most people.

Recidivisim

Recidivism rates for halfway house occupants is 60%+ in many jurisdictions because convicts reoffend within 3 years of their release date and land back in prison. Successful integration back into society depends on a number of critical factors, including the motivation of offenders to change their lives and the quality of programs that support them to do so.

My research indicates that the same factors are often at work in successful career change. Individuals find that living in that “halfway” point of transition is very uncomfortable. It causes them to re-evaluate their past, think about their future, adjust their ideas and beliefs—a lot of inner work to find their motivation to make real change in their lives.

And, of course, they don’t live in a vaccum. Whether in prison or out, we have structure all around us–constraints, rules, limitations but also freedom, choices and new opportunities. Embracing freedom is not easy because it often requires new skills to navigate through an obstacle course of options.

Letting go of career pain

The biggest issue that I see for career changers is letting go of the past. If their previous work/life experiences were difficult or painful then it is a challenge to face their fears of the future. They might know rationally that the past is over and does not determine the future, but they don’t believe their future will be any different really because work for them has always been a disappointing or painful experience. So, in effect, what they believe is that the past is the best indicator of the future.

But all our thinking about the past doesn’t change the future. We have to change the channel on our experience.

We must focus on the present in order to create a better future—that is the purpose of the “halfway” transition. It is to accept reality for what it is, you can’t change the past, so focus on finding some hope in the present—life can be better! This fact can bring a new burst of creative energy and help us find some pleasure or joy in current experiences.

If you thought that the key to success was to have the right attitude, faith, or courage, then you will be disappointed when things don’t work out. I’m not saying that ideas, beliefs and attitudes aren’t important but nobody ever lost weight just by thinking so. If we don’t find more pleasure in our lower weight than we did in having too much weight, then we will lose the motivation to keep off the weight and start our emotional eating once again. That’s why losing weight usually requires a change in lifestyle—a more enjoyable one!—in order to keep off the weight.

Why do so many offenders go back to prison? It’s the same reason that so many people stay in a job they hate or, worse yet, go back to a similar situation—they ignore reality as it is. Instead, they have a better chance of making a successful transition if they look at their current reality with a clear eye, open mind, and truthful awareness.

For some offenders, changing their lifestyle or habits is so painful, they prefer to go back to jail, to a known future with a roof over the heads and three squares a day.

Freedom through action

But, the reality is that jail hurts too, it has its own kind of pain. They choose the pain of incarceration over the joy of freedom because their experience of ‘freedom’ was very negative (in truth, they never really experienced freedom but only some cheap imitation of it).

Freedom is not easily acquired. You don’t achieve it with mind tricks that are designed to hide reality by imposing a positive spin on it. It’s about looking at what you really want, where you really want to be, the kind of life you really want, and taking actions now that move you closer to that goal.

That takes work, effort, persistence, to get what you want. For some people, it’s just easier to let the institution provide them with a roof over their heads and three square a day. But that’s a lifestyle, not a life; that’s prison, not freedom.

Are you ready for the new world of work?

It’s easy to manage your career when the world of work is stable and follows a set of rules that both employers and employees agree upon. This was the ‘cradle-to-grave’ job security that formed an unwritten social contract for decades since WWII. It allowed our society to move forward with political stability and economic affluence.

Hey! rub-a-dub-dub, three fools in a tub,

And who do you think were there?

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,

And all of them gone to the fair.

This nursery rhyme captures the spirit of that social contract, the notion that a rising tide of GDP floated all boats and carried everyone along on a light-hearted trip to a future of fun.

That social contract has been torn to shreds in North America by changing social and economic conditions, such as the hollowing out of the manufacturing sector and the millions of high-paying unionized jobs that went with it; the outsourcing of other jobs to Asia; the shift to lower-paying service jobs; the pervasive 24/7 reach of cellphones and other technologies that make it harder to establish boundaries between work and home; and other social trends and issues.

Did you know that the top 10 in-demand occupations of 2015 had not been invented in 2000? Or, that more information will be created next year than was created in the last 5,000 years. Or, that the average person will make 7 to 14 occupational changes by age 38?

Yes, it is much more difficult to manage your career in this millennium than the last. Did you wake up this morning dreaming of a future as a:

• Gamification Specialist
• Social networking affiliate manager
• Nano-mechanic
• Old age wellness manager
• Memory augmentation surgeon
• Weather modification police
• Waste data handler
• Personal brander/communications advisor
• Parallel programmer?

Probably not. If you thought about the changing world of work at all, you probably asked yourself: “Where do I fit in this world? What is available to me? How do I achieve a balance between my needs and all of the forces and influences around me?”

Big business, big government, and big unions have shown quite clearly since 2000 that they cannot provide guaranteed careers for a lifetime of work because they cannot control external variables, such as financial markets, climate change, technological revolutions, terrorism, and other influences on the economy.

These questions are best answered, I suggest, by shifting our career management strategy from an objective perspective, one that uses linear thinking–such as go to a good school, get good grades, get a good job, and climb a ladder of promotions and income—because that job-for-life will not be there.

Instead, we need to prepare our selves and our children to think about work in terms of fluidity and flexibility to meet the challenge of much change in a short period of time.

In order to meet these challenges in the external world, we may need to better master our internal world, to get a better understanding of our talents, beliefs, motivations, and values in order to shift efficiently and effectively with the twists and turns of a global economy and social upheaval. We need to know what hard skills we are suited to acquire and sell in the marketplace, and we need to know what soft skills we are suited to developing to sell those skills. In short, we need to think more subjectively.

Prepare yourself and your children to adapt to this rapidly changing world. Moving from an objective way of thinking about career to a subjective way of thinking is not easy but it starts with understanding your “life story” and how it relates to the kind of work we are best suited for as individuals and where that connects to the social world.

In the coming months, I will write more about how you can build and sustain the energy, enthusiasm and skills to be continuous adapting to this changing world of work, and especially how to find the fun in doing so!