After strangers at a party first introduce themselves, the next question that immediately pops up is, “So, what do you do?” or perhaps, “So, what line are you in?” It is as though we are defined solely by the job that we do or the company we work for.
Unfortunately for many people, this is true.
As a seasoned Career Coach, I have seen people spend their entire lives being defined by only their work. Lacking family life, friends and sometimes, even health, their world comes crashing down when they lose their jobs.
Linda (not her real name), 52, was one such person. Having been with the same company for the past 28 years, she was devastated when she came back from her European vacation. She was unceremoniously ushered into her manager’s room and told she was being let go. I was there at her notification and she was an absolute wreck. “I gave 28 years of my life to this company, I sacrificed my personal life, my vacations, and even my relationships, and this is what I get?”
Whilst we were busy chasing KPIs and other performance targets, something slipped by without us noticing it.
The concept of the “iron ricebowl” or “job for life” has been replaced with “retrenchment cycles” and “structural unemployment”.
Yet, many still cling on to the notion that their job is the most important asset they have.
Many still believe their jobs are guaranteed and that the company will always take care of them.
These people are suffering from what I call, “The Job Delusion”.
In today’s disruptive world, everyone’s job is at risk. Everyone.
The three key threats come from
(a) “Automation”, where an Artificial Intelligence or software/chatbot takes over your role,
(b) “Outsourcing”, where your entire function is exported to a cheaper location, and
(c) “Obsolescence”, where your expired skill sets are no longer needed. Given the breakneck pace of technology, these risks are amplified, so the risk of losing your job is very, very real, and being blindly committed to your job is delusional.
How then can we avoid the Job Delusion?
Treat your current job like a “Gig”.
A gig is a short-term engagement that musicians refer to when move from one performance venue to the next. They do not have long-term attachments to the physical place, but focus only on their Music and the listeners who appreciate (buy) their art.
Once you treat your job as a temporary gig, your mindset begins to shift.
(A) You will realise that you need a back-up plan when (not if) your gig ends,
(B) You will start to develop your back-up plan with firmer steps in place (e.g. I need to network more, I need to undergo skills upgrading, etc), and
(C) You will feel more confident in your own destiny
Your back-up plan could be a reach-out to your competitor’s HR department, learning and re-skilling with the latest tools, or even incubating a business idea on the side.
How then, do you develop your back-up plan?
My advice is not to go at this alone. Talk to your Mentor (I hope you have a few), speak to others in your field, begin to network, and better yet, engage a professional Career Coach to strategize a working back-up plan with you. Keep honing your Career Agility and developing new ideas.
As long as you have a Plan B baking in the oven, you are already better off than 80% of your peers who are still basking in the false comfort of their Job Delusion.
If you have any Career Questions you would like to ask, just email us today!