Here’s a possible scenario: You’re hearing about layoffs going on within your industry. Maybe even within your company.
People are talking about management looking to reorganize (gasp), automate (ugh), or outsource (no kidding).
All this is making you feel anxious and jittery about your career future. You’re constantly wondering whether you’re job or your position is at risk.
Maybe, you’re already sensing that your work is becoming less and less relevant to the “main thing” of your division or your company.
You’re feeling more and more like a cog in the wheel. And worse, you’re not even sure the wheel you’re on matters all that much anymore.
If you feel this way, the somewhat comforting news is that you’re not alone. Gallup reports that roughly two-thirds of the global workforce are actively disengaged at work. And the work situations described above are among the common reasons why people feel the way they feel at work.
The real good news is that you can do something about it now. You don’t have to depend on your company’s management to do something and change things. You don’t have to wait until the brick falls to take action.
Get curious about what’s going on in your industry or field of work.
It’s easy to focus solely on your job and doing well at it. The risk here is that you end up forgetting that your job is part of a bigger picture. And that bigger picture could be changing without you being aware of it.
Pay attention to strategic changes that your company is making. How are those changes going to affect your work? Will the changes bring about opportunities for you to branch out? Will the changes require you to re-skill yourself?
Relative to your profession, what’s the trend outside of your company? How is technology, automation, or artificial intelligence affecting your line of work? Are there shifts and trends that you can take advantage of to better position yourself?
Get comfortable with the idea of making a pivot.
The era of developing one career and taking it all the way to retirement is long gone.
Our world is changing at such a rapid pace. We cannot reasonably expect that our careers will look the same way — or even exist — a few years down the road. (Many in the music industry did not anticipate the demise of the industry as they knew it, failed to make adjustments, and felt the rug pulled from under them when it happened.)
Most of us who are working in today’s world can expect to make a pivot or a career change at least once in our professional lives. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that you may have learned while you’re getting your degree for the job you have now.
You can start by entertaining the idea of making a pivot instead of fighting it. Read or listen to stories of other folks who have made career changes as models of possibility.
Come up with a plan.
In a world where change comes fast and furious, the one with a plan is ahead of the game.
Your plan insulates you from frantic predictions and wild changes that are going on around you. With your plan serving as a North Star, you won’t be easily turned around or get flustered by the next big thing.
Contrary to prevailing notions about plans, your plan isn’t—in fact, it shouldn’t be—etched in stone.
It’s not one path from here to there because you cannot rely on things remaining the same.
Market forces change. Companies change. Industries change. And most importantly, you change.
Think of your plan as a route map toward the career horizon that you’re aiming for. It will help you stay grounded when your company or industry makes sharp turns.
So the first step is to come up with your own plan—and mind you, not the kind that’s tied to or dependent on your company’s plan. Then you’ll want to test and validate the assumptions in there (because there will be assumptions, trust me), tweak, and adjust. Then, take action according to the plan
• • •
While we cannot predict the future, we can certainly prepare for it.
We’ll be better prepared when we embrace the fact that the world of work is changing. And while this may be challenging, it also provides opportunities for us to grow and thrive in our careers.