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Many of us grew up believing that the purpose of going to school was to prepare us for a job of some kind. (I believe schools spend too much time focusing on creating better employees and not enough time equipping children with the skills needed to solve real problems. But that’s a discussion for another time.)

Graduating high school or university then invariably suggested that the search for a job should begin.

Once a suitable job is found we’re expected to remain in that job (or any form of employment) for roughly the next 40 years. Which is when we’re expected to retire.

I have a problem with this pattern.

Before I continue with this piece, allow me to clearly state something: There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a job and being gainfully employed.

I don’t have a problem with the concept of getting a job. I have a problem with the concept of getting a job and not having any options to walk away from it if it doesn’t keep you happy.

See, many of the concepts around work & earning an income which we learnt in school, are simply untrue. This isn’t to say our teachers were liars; many just didn’t know any better.

Here’s an example: I had a teacher who used to tell us that you can’t do anything after high school unless you’re really good at maths. Not true actually. There are literally a million ways to employ yourself & earn an income without being an A student in mathematics.

Another teacher once told me, “A good degree will get you a good job”. The marketplace dictates what constitutes a good degree and what doesn’t. Couple that with the fact that job-security is a laughable concept in today’s world and this statement isn’t even halfway valid.

After coaching dozens of employed individuals over the past decade here are some truths I’ve come across:

  • It’s a huge mistake to believe that your employer is responsible for your happiness. 9 times out of 10, your employer has no time to worry about you. Remind yourself that nobody can be as concerned about and invested in your well-being as you can.
  • There are great employers and there are terrible ones. People with options can choose to walk away from the terrible ones.
  • Learn a skill or a set of skills that you can use to generate an income if your job no longer keeps you happy.
  • Don’t believe that a page with a qualification and your name written on it guarantees you an income and/or happiness.
  • Real skills are those which enable you to sell your time and your expertise on your own terms.

The world is changing. It’s time for you to embrace the new rules of work.

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