Training Today’s Professional for Tomorrow’s Workplace

Three actions to take to be Career Ready for the Next Ten Years

By Susan Jepson

I love January! For many of us, it’s a time for reflection, regrouping, rethinking, and reviewing our lives. Life check-ups I call them.

As you check in with yourself now that it’s 2020 – gathering your paperwork for taxes, making doctor and dentist appointments, etc. – put a vigorous career planning and assessment audit on your “to do list.” The odds are high that in the next decade you will change jobs, lose a job or two, get promoted, be unemployed, use technology you haven’t even heard of yet, and need to change up your work life to be compatible with other life changes.

Let’s look ahead at the next ten years and see what we can do to be Career Ready regardless of how things develop. Below are three things you can do. But first, some assumptions:

  1. Things change, we change, and how we focus our attention today is different from where our attention will be focused in five or ten years. The world is unpredictable. Things happen that may change our personal and/or collective trajectory. Australia is burning as I write this, and the world may be on the brink of some calamitous military action. Meanwhile, climate change is accelerating. Things happen, good and bad, that create new meanings.
  2. Work and jobs are on a rapid roller coaster of how, where, when, why, and what people do in their everyday lives for pay. A high percentage of today’s jobs did not exist even five years ago, and that pace is predicted to accelerate. So in five years the work landscape likely will look very different from today in many areas.
  3. Remember always that we don’t know what we don’t know. We can never know everything, and while the volume of what we do know has increased because of the internet, the amount we don’t know also has increased exponentially.
  4. It is always a choice how we respond to whatever life brings us, throws on us, or where we go. No one will ever care as much about your work life as you do; be proactive. Other people can, should, and will help you and challenge you, but it’s your show.

 

So, what do you need to do to be as prepared and proactive as you can be in the next decade? I suggest the following three activities.

  1. Manage Your Attention and “go deep.” We think about managing our time, but managing our attention is about making choices about where to focus awareness and time. Keeping up with your industry, updating your skills, and following trends and developments in your occupation/profession are critical. Participate in professional networks, either online or in-person, or both.
  2. Grow Your Curiosity and “go wide.” Explore beyond your current world; learn new skills you are curious about for the heck of it, take up a new sport or hobby. Declare a month of no TV. Or watch on TV only documentaries about things you don’t know about already. New language? Bridge, poker, chess, Scrabble? Singing lessons? Online or in-person art class? Get a globe and follow what’s happening in parts of the world you don’t know much about, then find a restaurant serving food you have never tried from that region of the world. Step out of your comfort zone. In short, do new things. This would include hanging out with new people, perhaps, or joining a special-interest group online and meeting people that way.
    Grow your curiosity about other fields of work as well. If you were not doing the work you currently do, or want to do, what kind of work would you want to be doing? Do career exploration and imagine yourself in a different career. What would it be like? What would you need to do to prepare? (See the sidebar for some online resources to get you started.)
  3. Take Care of You: Body, Mind, and Soul. Not tomorrow, not next week, but starting now, how can you take better care of you? Everyday. Have fun. Intend to be healthier and recognize you will sometimes make good choices and sometimes not, but your intention is stay on track. Try new ways to relax. Let go of doing all the time. Just hang out with friends and family for no reason at all. Lay on your back in the grass and look at the sky for ten minutes. Nourish your soul and your values with ideas and activities that feed them.

 

I would love a crystal ball to look ahead, but all we can do is our best to be ready. Remember that no one is perfect, no one can do everything, and mistakes are all part of the journey. But by keeping these three principles in your life – Manage Your Attention, Grow Your Curiosity, and Take Care of You – you should be in a good place to be Career Ready for the decade. Good luck!

 


Susan Jepson is a career-development professional who has worked for a variety of organizations, but always with the commitment to supporting people grow and move forward in their lives. She has worked at a MassHire Career Center; run a federally funded back-to-work program for older workers in Massachusetts; counseled students in community college, and more. She was a key member of the collaborative task force that created a successful proposal for the first One Stop Career Center in Boston in 1996, now called MassHire Boston Career Center.

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