Figuring out Work

One of the services I offer is career counseling. I have folks come to me with all kinds of challenges – mothers returning to the workplace after staying home with their children, young people right out of college and looking to make the best decision to begin their careers, and people who have worked for a while and want to reinvent themselves.

Perhaps the biggest challenge I face in career counseling is to communicate just how much the workplace has changed. Forget a good paying, “secure” job with benefits. Those jobs are now few and far between. Today’s global economy has made that model obsolete. And forget working a “job” in the traditional sense. The idea of going to work for a set amount of time and being paid in exchange for that time is also obsolete. What is required in today’s modern world of work? Here are two ideas to be sure you understand:

1) Generating multiple revenue streams. This is not a new idea. Robert G. Allen wrote a book on this topic nearly 20 years ago. And chances are, unless you are just blindly running up debt and not thinking of your future at all, you’re probably already generating multiple revenue streams – either through a “side hustle” or a spouse/partner’s second income.

Go ahead and embrace this idea. You don’t do one thing. You don’t have one job. You use your expertise to generate multiple streams of revenue. Think of a teacher who also does private tutoring or consults for an educational software company. Think of a nurse who also has a side gig working for a company that supplies hospitals. Whenever I am counseling someone, I always encourage them to consider the training that will lead to the credentials or skill set that will give them the most degrees of freedom and the most multiple job options, because this is the world we live in.

2) Give up the idea of security. Job security is a myth. It does not exist. Because of automation, global economic forces, and a variety of other factors, the old-fashioned, work-for-one-employer-until-you-retire job model is dead and is not coming back. Dave Ramsey says instead of focusing on security, you should focus on passion and opportunity. This is good advice. If you don’t like what you do (or even better – love what you do), you won’t be able to sustain the effort needed to be good at it. Do what you really enjoy. And look for opportunities. Go to where the opportunities are, not where the perceived security is, because there is no security.

Here are a couple of examples from real people who are navigating the modern world of work. My friend Paul’s expertise is in real estate. He’s good at it. He’s even been on HGTV. Paul did well having one job in one geographical area until the real estate market crashed in 2008. He then worked in North Dakota for a few years (he didn’t live there – you no longer have to live where you work!) developing real estate-related projects while also providing cell phone coverage, among other products and services. He saw where there was opportunity because of oil production in North Dakota, then used his expertise to provide needed products.

Another example is my friend Ashlee. She is good at teaching and she loves Disney. In addition to teaching online courses for a university, Ashlee helps arrange Disney vacations. She teaches people how to navigate trips to Disney World.

To recap – the world of work has changed and it is not going back to the way it once was. Get comfortable generating multiple revenue streams and give up the idea of security – instead do what you love and go to where the opportunities are.