Careers Are a Thing of the Past

I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t believe in careers anymore. I’m beginning to think that having a career is a holdover of a generation that seems to end with mine. Our workforce has become a series of jobs—short-term things we do to earn money versus the pursuit of a career which is basically a longer-term role of employment. A job is not a career. Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a career as “a profession followed as a permanent occupation”. It doesn’t take much to notice that there aren’t many permanent or long-term positions anymore. I’ve seen too many people lose their jobs due to corporate restructuring and the reduction of staffs based on economically-driven decisions. I’m not blaming the businesses for this turn. As a matter of fact, looking at these workforce changes from a business perspective, it makes dollar sense.

The people I know who still hold a career is really a career in name only. Careers these days have been watered down, twisted, and shaped into something completely foreign to what people had originally intended to work at when they first entered the workforce. I find this sad.

Today’s college graduates are filling out applications for jobs that having nothing in common with the degree framed on their wall. There are many paths one can take to be employed, but the hiring and the duration of the job seems to be at the whim of whatever the economy dictates can be most beneficial to the advancement of the stakeholder’s pocket. Economics 101? Of course.

For those who do end up on a payroll, they are given responsibilities, which they have not been trained for, or are trained poorly, and are showing up each day on jobs because of the need for health insurance and rent and food money. In the meantime, being soul crushing in all other aspects of their personality.

I’ve even found myself in a work environment that turned out to be completely different from what I had started in. I’ve been working within the same industry for over 25 years but my roles have changed dramatically as prescribed by the changing focus of the companies within my industry. If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have set myself up in education and training to be in a role that has pigeon-holed me and made me all but obsolete. I’ve come to fully accept that I no longer have a career, but rather it’s just a job. One that pays the bills.

People tell me that I should be happy with that. “At least you have a job.” Yes, of course, I am grateful to be employed. But it’s not the same terms of employment that I grew up thinking they would be.

Careers used to be something you aspired to. You went to school to train for it. You interned at a company to get a deeper level of hands-on experience. These things have all gone the way of Mad Men, and in its stead, there are generations of people who have had to turn in their careers for whatever jobs were available, making the best of a situation nobody prepared us for and different from what our parents told us our future would be. Whether we want to or not, current economic climate has made each one of us stand on the cusp of a new way on how to make life better for ourselves.

Our self-worth and identity are very much wrapped into our employment roles as functioning adults in society, contributing our part of paving the American Way. We will always need food and shelter and to provide for ourselves and our families and losing the idea of having a career can be a big adjustment not just for our lifestyle but how we see ourselves.

All that you knew and worked for are no longer available. The rules have changed and are as fluid as they need to be to keep the corporate shareholders afloat. In a way, this can be a blessing in disguise. It’s human nature to seek ways to pursue our happiness and maybe, as our workforce culture has changed with intensified job responsibilities and increased pressure, it is forcing each one of us to reevaluate what our goals are and what we really want our personal energies to feed.

In our discomfort of the modern-day 9-5 we are recreating a culture that though we may no longer have the careers we were promised in our youth, the jobs we hold can continue to take up a corner of our existence but also allow us a way to start thinking out of the box and find talents and desires within ourselves that either weren’t available before or we were never in a position to have to think along that path.

In Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”, he talks about finding two roads in the woods and trying to decide which road to take. Suspecting he will only have one chance at making the choice, he understands that things have a way of leading to other things and he may not find his way back, he chose the road less traveled, which had made all the difference.

How many of us have traveled the road of anticipated careers and our education? We were so sure we could always come back to walk the other road, but somehow never did because we got caught up in our career. For many of us, we may find ourselves back to that fork in the road, whether from our own hand or that of our employer’s. It can be an opportunity, a second chance to take that road less traveled, and see where it leads.

I don’t think my grandson will ever know the same definition of “career” that I knew growing up and who knows what the workforce will even look like when he’s ready? His will be a whole new generation and the rules will probably change for him, too. I think that the closing of the doors on careers as we know it is jolting but it doesn’t have to be immobilizing. Maybe the window that it opens is one that is more important—having a job but also being able to pursue a more rewarding and richer path and one that we can walk this time with a poet beside us.

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Friday’s Focus—It Doesn’t Cost a Dime But It’s Priceless

We all like to receive complements and acknowledgment of a job well done, but more often than not, it’s phone calls to business providers or managers with complaints about lousy service or a bad job that gets us to pick up the phone.

Yes, providers should be made aware of service that’s less than stellar, but how often have you reached out to tell a manager about good service you received? It can be as easy as writing a positive review on a Website such as Yelp or Travel Advisor or you can take it one step further and make a phone call or send a letter to the company itself.

A word of kindness and acknowledgment goes a long way. It’s a golden trifecta: The boss will feel good about having someone on their team whom they can feel confident in; the person whom you called about will most likely be told of the complement and can boost self-esteem; and you will feel good about sharing something positive about someone else.

Small things like this doesn’t cost you anything but time, and the investment of the effort can be priceless for the person on the other end.

Taking things deeper….

#service #self-esteem #encouragement #business

Blogging From A to Z: Tenacity

T

I believe that tenacity is a very important trait to have. Maybe it’s the scales in my astrological chart but I strongly believe in the underdog and admittedly I have a deep need for balance and justice, which tends to call in my tenacious nature.

I don’t look at being tenacious as being a bad thing. In Latin it means to hold fast, and I believe in holding people and companies accountable for what they say and are supposed to do. It’s not about being right but rather it’s about being ethical, moral, standing by one’s word, and really just doing good business.

I especially become dogged and steadfast when it comes to insurance companies, healthcare, banking, and Internet providers (!) and can be fiercely tenacious when it comes to family and friends. In matters of business, it’s not that I am inflexible when mistakes happen, but when it’s clearly evident that the mistakes are the result of sloppiness, miscommunication, and poor training that get me. In business, I’ve noticed an increasingly pathetic disconnect between the proverbial right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing with misinformation and lack of follow-through rampant.

I have a deep understanding of another person’s shoes almost to the empathic level but sometimes being understanding just doesn’t cut it. I realize that the downsizing in companies can result in a lack of drive to do a good job for those who are left but I think more of a factor is that so many people are overstressed and overworked and there is no real training made available to employees anymore, that those who are left to work can’t help but end up playing a crucial role in widening the gap of disconnect.

People have called me bitchy and obstinate to which I say thank you, because if that’s what you want to call someone who holds fast onto doing what’s right and fighting against inaccuracies, miscommunication, and lack of caring, then go right ahead. Being tenacious can be something like a superpower in that it can be used for good or evil: holding people and businesses accountable or it can be used as harassment and unrelenting obstinacy. Like the Avengers, I choose the former.

Is tenacity your superpower or does it still need to be summoned? I embrace my inner superpower and celebrate it in today’s “T” post. Embrace your inner tenaciousness and take your inner superpower deeper!