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5 Ideas That Changed My View on Work & Career

My generation talks a lot about how we are not like our parents.

We will not stay with the same company for 40 years, we will not rely on a company to support our entire career, we might not retire early.

The society we live in simply does not reward long service to one employer any more. Nor do we want it to.

Not many of us are talking about what our career will look like, though.

Probably because we don’t really know.

The confusion I meet with many people, is an honest unknown and sometimes a silent dread about what’s ahead.

So how do we navigate our career in a forever changing world?

First of all, googling “career” gave me an insight.

One definition of career says: ”The general course of progression of one’s working life”, another reads: ”a job or profession that someone does for a long time”.

’To career’ is even a verb, which translates to rushing, moving or running at full speed.

Since I graduated in 2007, I have worked for two startups, two big corporations and run my own business. Many of my friends have done the same.

Although the definition of career might still hold, the look of it is different.

Five Perspectives on Work & Career Planning

In a time where career planning is hard – here are 5 ideas that changed my view on work and career.

1.  Create value.

What problems can you solve? Get really clear on how you can be of value and service to others. Our generation is facing some big issues. Issues that concern our planet, climate and equality.

Never choose a path for the sake of money or prestige. Choose it for the purpose of happily adding value and being of service to others. Money tends to follow great service, but can be crippling as an end in itself.

2. Learn to live with uncertainty.

Do you know where you will be in 5 years? Will your company or field even exist in 10 years?

Getting more comfortable with uncertainty requires having more trust; in life and in ourselves.

3.  Trust that the dots will connect.

Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class in college simply because it fascinated him. Little did he know that would shape fonts on the Mac 10 years later.

We simply cannot predict the future. So follow what your gut tells you and trust that your experiences will add up in the end.

(Oh, and if you haven’t seen his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech –  do it!)

4. Develop your body of work.

Instead of believing that your CV is scattered or non-linear, learn to find the connection between diverse accomplishments, sell your story and learn to reinvent yourself.

Like Jobs, she talks about finding the thread (the themes) that tie your life together.

One of my themes, for instance, is being an arranger (arranging resources, thoughts, people in complex environments). This does not say where my career is heading, but it narrows down the types of roles I will look for.

5. Think of your career as a smartphone.

Our careers are becoming more non-linear and customizable. Different moves in your career requires different apps (read: skills, experiences). Don’t be afraid to download new ones, and delete those that no longer serve you.

I thought I wanted to be in PR when I graduated, and I worked with PR for 6 months. I learned quickly that it was not for me. Great experience though. Your story and skills might change, and you will be different two years from now. That’s a good thing.

My belief is that we are more responsible than ever to do work that matters.

When it comes to planning your career, much will be uncertain.

However; knowing who you are, knowing your non-negotiables (your values) and knowing what value you can provide in the world.

If you got these, you are off to a good start.

Image credit: Roystan