Imagine a future where your working life involves as many as 40 different jobs in 10 different careers, and you are required to work until you are in your 90s.
That was the somewhat startling vision offered by futurist and marketing guru Rohit Talwar in a recent article in The Guardian. The lesson behind Talwar’s harsh view of the future of the working world is that the education system, and individuals, need to prepare better for the massive change that is coming.
Talwar said the rise of the so-called “Gig Economy”—where long-term, full-time jobs are replaced with sporadic contracts and part-time engagements—will require all of us in the future to be more creative and industrious in order to make a living. “You might be driving Uber part of the day, renting out your spare bedroom on Airbnb a little bit, renting out space in your closet as storage for Amazon, doing delivery for Amazon or housing the drone that does delivery for Amazon,” Talwar told educators at a recent education conference in London.
“There are all these sort of new sharing economy models coming through. We need to start thinking about these things, we need to start thinking about the kinds of skills we’ll need to help people stay employable.”
Before you start looking for space in your garage to store that Amazon drone, remember that futurists can be notoriously inaccurate in their predictions, and typically exaggerate to make their point.
Still, there is no escaping the fact that more people are being forced to change jobs and careers more often. And that we are all looking at working well into what previous generations considered their “golden years.”
In this context, how can you still find fulfillment in your career? The good news is that best practices for dealing with the career environment described by Talwar is not all that different from more traditional career eras. Here are three winning strategies to survive and thrive in the new career economy:
- Always focus on finding the right fit. Career fit is a lot like buying a pair of shoes; if you find your career is too tight (not enough room to grow) or too loose (not enough purpose or focus) then you need to start looking for something that is a better fit. Like shoes, a poorly fitting career can be painful and, ultimately, dangerous for your well-being. Even if it’s just a contract position, look for something that meets your needs in terms of personal growth, location and people. And remember, as your career evolves, what was a good fit in one stage may not be a good fit in a later stage.
- Do what you do best and enjoy most every day. Do you have a work task that is so enjoyable, you lose track of time when engaged in doing it? A key to longevity is finding something that you love to do so much, it doesn't feel like work. Conversely, you should also identify and stop doing those things that you don’t do well that are draining you of your drive and energy.
- Pay attention to how you interact with co-workers. To have a long and satisfying career no matter how many times you may have to change engagements, you must develop interpersonal skills that make you someone others want to be around. Establishing and maintaining positive, constructive relationships is crucial for overall satisfaction. Not only will it make going to work every day a more enjoyable experience, it will allow you to build a network that will help you find and thrive in your next engagement.
No one necessarily wants to work until they are nearly 100 years old, but there is a strong chance we’ll all have to work a bit longer than our parents did. Even in a job market where more jobs, and longer career trajectories are the norm, do not lose sight of the importance of finding satisfying, fulfilling jobs that allow you to do what you do best.