Two hundred years ago, your role in life largely depended on the village where you were born and the vocations of your parents.
With the Industrial Revolution came the idea that you might have more choice in your lifelong career, although still heavily influenced by your family’s social status.
Nobody is sure exactly what the model is for the 21st century, but it’s a mixture of taking initiative, investment in your skills and education, finding a path to self-fulfillment, and being flexible as the world changes ever more rapidly.
As you travel your particular career path, it’s becoming much more common for there to be key turning points. I have a friend, about 40, who is in the midst of education for a new medical career. Many people, including myself, have been seriously re-examining the whole concept of retirement because we’re not particularly inspired about working full-time on one day and then doing no work from that point forward.
There are more minor examples as well, including taking a promotion from technical work into management. Or migrating from one role into another, even working for the same company.
It’s been said that the average new worker will have perhaps five careers during his lifetime. It’s not clear what the word “career” might mean in this new world, but the concept is extremely valuable: Don’t expect to be doing the same work your entire life.
When you understand that statement, you realize that there are going to be times where you need to “reboot” your career. These will be large events, like getting married, buying your first house, or having your children leave home.
Each of those has a preparation phase, though. You don’t just go out on some random day and decide to buy your first house. You spend a lot of time saving money, learning about the market, and trying to internalize what it means to become a homeowner rather than a renter. Despite that, many still feel unprepared, but the preparation is key.
If you expect you’re going to reboot into a different career sometime in the next few years, you need to invest in similar things:
- Learn about the new career. Would you find it interesting and rewarding?
- Become ready for the career. Get the education, network with the right people, figure out how you have to change.
- Check out the market. What does it take to enter? Do you understand the risks and rewards?
- Figure out the right timing. This affects your family, your social circles, your growth potential, and your freedom to do other things – so timing is often a critical issue.
It’s a challenge to make career changes, but the time spent planning can reduce the anxiety.
What do you think your next reboot might be?
by Carl Dierschow