Me, Myself & I, Inc.: A New Approach and Context for Your Career(s) — STEP 1
You, the Lifepreneur. That doesn’t necessarily sound like a great advancement for work/life balance!! No, this is a concept and an approach. It’s a positive and integrated way to consider, develop, pursue and achieve your professional purpose, needs and desires. The restrictive, but stable and understood, rigid structures of work are falling away, dissipating career trajectories and leaving their paths undetermined. It’s now up to YOU to create the framework and direction for your career, as an integral part of the full breadth of your life’s activities.
The ‘Business of Me’ should not have a bad association. Not the way ‘work’ is being redefined, not now that ‘happiness’ and ‘love’ are being included in the corporate lexicon. That said, this certainly IS a new way of looking at our lives, and our work. Starting with your ‘own personal business plan’, this approach IS proactive, needs a vision, strategy and tactics, and ongoing ‘operational’ attention to make it happen.
So, what does this all mean? That it is no longer about dealing with a few major decision junctures over the multi-decade path of your singular career. It’s not about letting life ‘happen’ until occasional critical forks in the road force you to take action after which you slump back, letting autopilot re-engage. That software has been disabled! This is true whatever phase you are at in your career — or series of careers, as is the new norm in our new, prolonged, more diverse working realities — in corporate, freelancer or entrepreneur roles alike.
Work can be much fuller and richer in its new, re-integrated role in your life. We are transitioning to working environments that can allow us to feel more alive, be more valued, more stimulated, more in control, and more respected, with more opportunities and more options. Work now has more dimensions AND is more complicated…as we also have the accountability and ongoing decision-making requirements that accompany more choice and responsibility.
What does it take to set up/be/run/manage yourself as your own personal enterprise? As a first key step, it is necessary to recognize and acknowledge the business environment you are working within — so you can create an appropriate plan to be most successful, whatever you determine that means for you.
The new context is that a career is no longer limited in scope to a specific discipline or narrow segment of the business spectrum, nor does it last your whole working life, or likely even a decade. Yes, specialization is one trending theme. However, deep expertise is now being applied in and across different areas, businesses or industries over time. The result is that your exposure and involvement across and during each of your careers will necessarily be broader, affording you more variety of experience, opportunity and choice.
If you’re a Millennial, this sounds, and can certainly be, very exciting. Thanks to technological advances, you are likely used to an almost infinite range of information, broad access and a myriad of options. Just more things to ‘search up’, videos to watch, and you’ll be on it! You are already accustomed to constant change in business and bringing an entrepreneurial attitude. That said, with less experience to apply when developing and implementing focused elements of your personal plan, numerous choices and decisions can be overwhelming. A good first step is to find an experienced mentor, who can share different perspectives.
If you are a Gen Xer or Boomer, the situation may feel much more challenging. You are used to specific definitions of possibility and limited choices, and working cultures that actively discourage entrepreneurial thinking. It is a very unfamiliar situation to be evaluating and selecting from wide-ranging options to build up your new preferred working profile, creating your OWN boundaries to work within and stick to.
You may also, consciously or subconsciously, be saddled with entrenched legacy habits and rules that can challenge the easy adoption of new ways of thinking or working practices, even when the changes are extremely beneficial. Embracing the new context with its combination of more choice and less permanence is the first HUGE step. Luckily, everyone around you is faced with the same set of circumstances. Together you/we can share, support, advise and coach each other.
So, for everyone, the new interconnectedness of our communities and networks, on- and offline, can help us with the new realities of work and our careers. Whether you are feeling bold or cautious, it’s a reasonably lengthy process to prepare yourself well for this new environment, and absorbing inputs from a few insightful individuals is key and core.
STEP 2: Developing Your Own Career ‘Business Plan’, thinking about strengths and preferences and focusing on income, not jobs. Coming soon…..
Sophie Wade is a Workforce Innovation Specialist and writes and speaks regularly about Future of Work issues — including workplace flexibility, employee engagement, new career experience management and intergenerational communication. Her forthcoming book, Embracing Progress, will be coming out early in 2017. Sophie is President of the NYC chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. @ASophieWade
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on February 16, 2016.