Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Only Constant is Change

I saw a funny video on Facebook starring Christina Hendricks whose 1960s Mad Men character finds herself in a modern office. She tries to put typing paper in the computer monitor, smokes at her desk, and discovers that nobody knows how to send a fax. The differences in work and the workplace that have occurred between then and now are pretty clear. What isn't so obvious is how quickly and regularly those shifts occur.

The impact of change isn't a new concept: the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus observed that, as in life, you never step in the same river twice. On the other side of the world, Buddhists consider impermanence, or change, to be one of the three basic characteristics of all phenomenal existence. Merriam-Webster even defines the word "life" as "the ability to grow, change, etc."

A career of uncertainty
What does change have to do with money (aside from random nickels and dimes)? You make money through work, and the work you do over time becomes a career. It used to be that a degree and a position at a top firm would set you up for life, but that's not the case anymore.

According to 2012 data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median number of years workers stay with their current employer was 4.6, and for those ages 25 to 34, the average drops to 3.2 years. If you work from age 18 to retirement age at 62, that's between 9 and 10 jobs during a career.

Whether you go all-in on the freelance "gig economy" or simply move between companies as opportunities arise (and, increasingly, disappear), prepping yourself for a work life that is unpredictable is both thrilling and terrifying. So we've dedicated this issue to helping make you ready for anything.

Follow the "squiggly path"
Author Mitch Joel suggests the modern career path isn't a clear line but a squiggle, meaning you should be ready when new opportunities arise, take on projects that are interesting and challenging, and be willing to buck the status quo.

It doesn't matter what field you're in, today's careers are more dependent upon your brain than your brawn. Working in the 21st century:
  • requires problem solving, reasoning, and attention.
  • is team-based and collaborative.
  • depends a working understanding of technology.
  • has tight deadlines.
  • means it doesn't always matter where you live and work.
The good news is that it's in your power to develop the skills and abilities to cope with change. It's hard work, and it requires effort almost every day, but it's going to pay off in the end.

By Matt Neznanski Copyright 2014 brass Media, Inc.

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