Fighting #FOMO with the write hack

We live in anxious times…especially in matters related to economic security.

We are all subject to pressures of competition, achievement, production and acquisition– fears, worries, anxieties about work and money are just part of navigating our economic rat race.

Most of us worry about finding a job, keeping a job, advancing with a job; we worry about paying our bills, making enough money to buy a home, or raising a family, or saving for retirement. We fear missing out on life’s many pleasures and promises.

Our anxieties are further fuelled by news reports highlighting precarious work with no benefits; corporate bankruptcies; failed government policies; the increasing reliance on robots, automation and artificial intelligence in our workplaces, and the replacement of jobs by such technologies. The future is uncertain.

Anxiety is a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive unease and apprehension. It often manifests first in a general restlessness, loss of appetite, insomnia, sometimes panic attacks or compulsive behaviour. If it carries on long enough, it can develop into serious illness, such as depression.

I know the telltale signs for myself, such as pacing, ruminating, procrastinating, a vague and general restlessness that interrupts, even prevents, restfulness. When feeling anxious, I know that I make poor decisions, so I’ve learned to tackle my anxiety head on.

    The write hack

We all need a work around when it comes to dealing with our anxieties. One of the first things I do when such symptoms appear is to take out a paper and pen and do a very effective writing exercise (known in some circles as morning pages) that quickly calms my worries.

If you are feeling anxious about your work and money, try this: get up in the morning and write for 3 pages non-stop about your career decisions up to this point in your life. How did you make those decisions? What were you thinking at the time? What were you expecting in terms of an outcome?

Don’t judge or censor yourself, just write whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind. Don’t stop writing until you’ve completed 3 pages. If you get stuck with writer’s block then keep writing the same thing over and over until another thought comes. You must complete 3 pages.

Do this for 5 days as early in the morning as possible. [Of course, the sooner you start this exercise when feeling anxious, the better; it’s not a substitute for clinical treatment if you’re depressed!]

By the time the fifth day rolls around, I can almost guarantee your anxiety will dissipate to the point where you can look for patterns in your pages that reveal the roots of your anxieties. Some of those roots may be internal and grounded in biology, beliefs or behaviours. Some of them may be external and rooted in your experiences with work and money. You might want to share your pages with a close friend or a professional to help you find the patterns and move forward.

    How to Move Forward in your Career

It is my experience that this kind of mental/emotional house cleaning is necessary before you can move forward in life with good decisions and powerful actions. There is something magical about such simple writing exercises.

That is why JobJoy is collaborating with Phrase Strategy to help leaders move forward with their careers. Maria Ford, Phraseologist, refers to writing exercises as pre-marketing, and necessary for the growth and development of leaders. Read her most recent post to learn more about how such “magic” might help you.

Real Job Security is knowing your Motivational Pattern

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 for them.

    What energizes you?

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.

    Motivation matches right work

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.

Where are the jobs?

I learn from my clients about what is really happening in the job market. Based on their experiences, here are some significant trends that may help you with your career planning, job searching, or advice for your children.

Job Market: Governments claim unemployment is at record lows. Employers complain of skill shortages and their inability to fill job vacancies. Job seekers complain about finding decent jobs. What is going on?

a. More hiring is happening…if you have a professional or technical skill with work experience. Recruiters and employment agencies are definitely filling positions for employers who want experienced credentialed employees. While recruiters and agencies demand recent employment experience, many employers are more open to employment gaps from candidates—especially women who have taken time off to start or care for family.

b. E-commerce is hiring young adults with technical diplomas. There is not doubt that it is easier to get a job these days if you are a 20-something with a 1-year diploma in Mobile Application Development and Design than if you have a 4-yr Arts degree.

c. STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) careers are definitely on the rise, and so are jobs in all areas of healthcare. However, immigrants with qualifications in these areas still face formidable barriers to employment, but less so in the technology sector.

d. Employers won’t pay for training. One of the reasons that employers claim there is a shortage of skilled labour is because most of them won’t pay for training. It is cheaper to pay skilled workers a higher salary than add the costs of training.

e. Employers with rich market capital—the Googles, Facebooks, Apples of the world—will pay for training because they can afford it. They also have to pay high salaries because their offices are located in large urban centres with high housing costs, which is another reason companies are having trouble attracting skilled labour.

f. Employers are biased. Even young adults with technical skills are having a hard time landing that first career job because employers still prefer experienced workers. Having said that, ageism is alive and well in the labour market. Older workers looking for jobs have to rely less on their work history and more on demonstrating to potential employers how they can add value to their operations.

g. Beware of short term jobs. The employers that complain loudest about lack of skilled labour are often the same ones who are moving to replace labour through AI, automation and robots. It’s important for students to analyze the trends in a sector before investing in a career that can be easily replaced by technology in the near future.

h. Employers will not do what’s necessary to attract and retain young workers. Many GenZ and millennials still live at home and pay few bills, so they often leave a job if they don’t like it (because they can afford to). And they don’t seem to like cubicle cultures in big hierarchical organizations. Many millennials are starting their own companies, often with friends because they prefer smaller companies that have a more “engaging” culture of community and collaboration. Most large employers are not yet willing to make costly investments or structural changes in their practices to retain these workers; therefore, they complain about skill shortages that are due not to a lack of labour supply but a lack of employers willing to change their people management practices.

i. Growth of government siphons off skilled labour. Federal, provincial and municipal governments continue to practice deficit spending and drive up debt in order to expand programs and projects that employ lots of people who might otherwise fill jobs in the private sector. In Ontario alone, the number of public servants increased by 5 times over 10 years under the recent Liberal government. The appeal to workers is obvious—the public sector is one of the last workplaces to offer job security.

j. The gig economy is expanding. More workers in all age groups are developing multiple jobs or streams of income because certain social, technological and economic trends are forcing them to do so. Employers are learning how to embrace and manage contractors. In the war for talent and skills, employers are starting to offer contractors better terms and working conditions.

Internet Fatigue and New Job Opportunities

How big is your digital footprint? You might be surprised. Go to Pipl.com and type in your name and city of residence. It will show you how much of your personal data and photos are readily available to anyone who wants to look.

Our footprint increases exponentially as we engage more and more with the giant engines of virtual reality, including mobile and social media, e-commerce, gaming, online fashion, online education, big data, outsourcing, cloud computing, cyber security, healthcareIT, and the Internet Of Things. Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Alibaba, and Microsoft make up 5 of the top 10 companies in the world when ranked by market cap. Them and thousands of other digital companies—such as Uber, Airbnb, Netflix–are disrupting and driving our economy.

Being plugged in 24/7 has pros and cons. On the one hand, these online companies create new jobs and opportunities; on the other, they create online addictions. CBS News reports that famous entrepreneur, Richard Branson, is imposing a digital detox program on all Virgin employees: Branson recognizes that excessive screen time has a negative effect on his employees because it reduces their productivity as it undermines their health and well-being.

One of my clients, Eric, alerted me to the risks of excessive screen time back in 2007 when he admitted to “internet addiction.” He would literally surf the web until he collapsed with exhaustion in front of his computer screen. Eric is not an isolated case, especially as our jobs become more dependent on digital technologies. We are all at risk of “internet fatigue” that undermines our productivity as employees and our relationships with family and friends. Eric’s remedy was an equally extreme antidote—he unplugged from the internet and cycled through 9 different countries over 5 years. You can read his amazing story here.

Social entrepreneurs like Eric are springing up to organize a movement that will help individuals unplug from virtual reality and reconnect with nature and people. They will create digital detox programs for various work and home environments to prevent “internet fatigue,” and develop treatment regimens for online addictions.

I have to admit, I’m discouraged by the recent FaceBook (FB) scandal that shows how quickly and easily my online data can be ‘scraped’ and sold to big business and big government. As an early adopter of internet platforms, I loved how it empowered ordinary people to do things that were previously the exclusive domain of such top down structures of control and power. But, increasingly, our personal power online is being overtaken by digital profiteers like FB.

Predictability is control

The business of FB is data collection from its 2 billion users. FB sells our data to third parties because that is how it makes money. Third parties like Cambridge Analytica mine that data and package it as ‘predictability’ before they sell it to customers. Is it any wonder that big business and big government are buying our data to restore and strengthen their control over what we consume with our minds and money? It might also help to explain why FB & Co. advocate for self-regulation and why governments are reluctant to regulate in the best interests of consumers; one hand feeds the other.

Did you know that Cambridge Analytica and other data miners use computer models that can assess your personality with a startling degree of accuracy from only “10 likes” on FB? From 150 likes it can predict your behavior better than your parents and siblings, while it can do better than your spouse if you give it 300 likes.

When you upload your contacts to FB, the social media giant uses that as a starting point to build a profile on those who don’t have a profile. By collecting photos of unnamed people, or email addresses it knows its users contact, or the results of inane online quizzes, the company can figure out who new people are and who else they know–even if they don’t have a FB account.

Even if you’re not using FB, it is using you. Look at the top of just about any web page and you’ll see a small button allowing you to “like” it on FB; it uses that button to track your online activities even when you aren’t logged into it. FB has tracking software on hundreds of thousands of the world’s top websites. For example, when I search for used items on Kijiji, such as tires, ads for the same then show up on FB’s Marketplace, even though I never mentioned anything about tires in my FB posts.

The trade-off between privacy and convenience is at the heart of social media

You might think all is harmless enough but you don’t need to know how a TV works to understand how TV steals your time and manipulates your buying habits. If you don’t like what TV is doing, you can switch it off. Same with social media. I recently reduced my digital footprint on Pipl.com by simply changing the Privacy settings on my social media accounts.

But, as a result of doing research for this article, I’ve decided to close my personal FB account. It is convenient to see what family and friends and favorite orgs are doing in other cities and countries. However, a self-imposed exile from social media may help me to think more deliberately about bigger issues at stake while exercising my right to privacy.

Now that warmer weather and longer days are upon us, I also want to invest my limited time in offline activities for awhile. I can always open another FB account with another email later if I so desire.

There seems no way to stop the inevitable march towards virtual reality…but the current FB scandal is an excellent reminder that it may be time to slow it down and guard not only our personal privacy but our collective health and human-ness.

Is time running out on job security?

As we come to the end of 2017, it is customary to reflect on the past year and forecast the year ahead. What strikes me are two opposing trends that deserve attention.

1. Totality of work. There is increasing evidence that work today governs our everyday conduct in much the same way that religion guided the lives of medieval people during the middle Ages. From the time we awake until we sleep (and even during sleep) our clock is organized around our work obligations—from rushing kids to day-care, to running errands during work breaks, to buying a fast food family dinner on the commute home, to bringing work home, to checking work emails 24/7, to applying sleep aids that mitigate the effects of anxiety, worry and burnout associated with our waking work lives. In many respects, work is not only at the centre of our culture; it is the totality of life! Work is no longer a means to an end but an end in itself.

2. The replacement of good paying jobs by AI, automation, and robots. We all know that manufacturing has been hit hardest by this tsunami of technological change. But millions of jobs are going to be lost soon in other sectors, including finance, law, medicine, education, as well as blue collar jobs like transport drivers, retail clerks, warehouse workers, crop pickers, cleaning staff, and so on. The government mantra for economic growth “Jobs! jobs! jobs!” is moving quickly beyond their ability to deliver job stability for the majority of citizens. In the meantime, the gap between the ultra rich and the rest of us grows ever wider.

These two trends go to the heart of who we are as individuals and as a society. Since the Industrial Revolution, our sense of self-worth comes primarily from our jobs. In short, we are socially worthless without a job. We are what we do; you are your job. It is the link between work and wages that defines us. In this cultural context, net-worth becomes the key determinant of self-worth. We conform and submit our lives to this social norm as the ‘right’ way to live in order to achieve home ownership through job stability and financial security.

Prediction

What I see happening over the next year or so is a broader public conversation about the future of work. Some of you have heard of Universal Basic Income trials backed by some governments and high tech entrepreneurs. This is just one example of people re-conceptualizing the link between work and wages. The notion that “any work is good work” now seems out-moded.

In 2018, I predict we will see increasing pressure on leaders to alter their habits of mind and think beyond “a job for life” as the purpose of existence. This will create a lot of tension, even conflict, in society because the totality of work is so embedded in our way of doing things that the prospect of change will be frightening for many and challenging for all.

If we want our leaders to boldly imagine an alternative future, then we need to prepare ourselves to do the same. Here at JobJoy, we are in the change business. Everyday we help individuals change their jobs or careers.

Change is inevitable! All the more reason to enjoy periods of stability, peace and comfort as they occur. I hope your holiday season is full of them and may good health and prosperity fill you throughout the coming year!

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!

If jobs disappear, you can be paid for what you love to do!

If you could be paid for work that you love to do but is now unpaid…would you take it?

Home childcare, or writing a movie script, or inventing gadgets in your backyard, or building a single engine airplane in your garage, or making music, or volunteering overseas for a preferred humanitarian cause, or getting active in a local environmental one, or designing beautiful gardens, or beekeeping, or taking better care of aging family members, or taking all the time you need to develop one of your brilliant ideas into a business–these are just a few ‘passions’ that some of my clients have identified over the years but could not pursue because of economic insecurity.

Universal Basic Income

However, the day may be coming very soon when work previously un-paid will be covered by a UBI, or a universal basic income. Why? Because the industrial economy of mass production based on human labour is coming to an end. And it will change many of the assumptions and practices that we now take for granted.

For example, we have to work to live—this is the simple truth known as the work ethic and is deeply rooted in our culture for the last 2000 years, maybe longer. For most of us, it is reality. And the idea that we have to work becomes synonymous with a job. It’s the main reason many of us stay in jobs or organizations that we hate…because we have to make a living and pay our mortgages and provide for our loved ones. Work is often a trade-off between what we’d like to do and what we have to do to pay the bills. It’s a fact of life that few question. As a result, the work ethic has been at the center of who we are as individuals and as a society. In short, we are defined by our jobs.

But business billionaires Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Sam Altman and others predict that automation, robotics and artificial intelligence will eliminate the need for most jobs within 20 years. Most people will no longer need to work in order to live. Our basic needs for housing, food, clothing, transportation will be covered by technology and, perhaps, a universal basic income (UBI).

What a radical idea! If jobs disappear and are not replaced by new kinds of jobs…well, what will people do? Or, who will they be? It really depends on how you define ‘work’. Some of the most important work in the world is unpaid labour, such as child rearing. Some of the least important work in the world is the highest paid.

What if bankers disappeared?

For example, a study was done on a bankers’ strike in Ireland that lasted 6 months in 1970. Predictions were that the Irish economy would collapse with dire consequences for the man in the street. Instead, the economy actually grew during those six months because ordinary people forged a decentralized monetary system with the country’s pubs as the key nodes for clearing checks and finding cash.

The ‘crisis’ demonstrated how much our economy runs on trust not treasure. And there have been few strikes by financiers since. However, garbage collectors in New York City went on strike about the same time and a state of emergency was declared after six days and the strike settled three days later.

Bankers and garbage collectors both perform valuable roles in society but who really is more essential to society’s long-term health and well-being? When our economic system puts profits before people, then the highest paid individuals are often those doing the least important ‘work’…because they have the gold, they make the rules.

Technology is now changing the rules of the game in some fundamental ways. For example, working for a living has always involved producing something in return for wages. But what happens when ‘things’ can be produced by robots and other forms of artificial intelligence?

The answer to this question is behind UBI, a proposal for changing the very structure of society as we now know it. The idea is that the wealth created by robots and computers will be shared more equitably with all citizens…rather than accrue in the bank accounts of fewer and fewer people at the top of the income scale.

I believe this is a significant idea with serious implications not only for those of us working today but especially for our children. As difficult as it might be to think that our current economic model could change so drastically, any responsible parent will want to stay on top of these developments in order to secure a promising future for their children.

UBI is not a done deal. There are pros & cons, as well as other options, such as 15 hour work weeks, open borders, and more. If you want to learn more about these issues and trends, subscribe to my free UnDone online mag.

Or, at the very least, start thinking about what you might do with your time. My JobJoy Reports have helped hundreds of individuals clearly identify their motivational pattern and where they might apply it in terms of meaningful work so that they live to do work that energizes rather than drains them.

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!