The world is changing at a rapid pace, especially with the technological explosion 10 years ago. You may have already felt the first wave of tremor through changes in your work place, such as the rise in temporary roles and remote working.
Changes are inevitable in life, and it’ll hit you badly if you remain static, obstinate and unprepared. We’re approaching the new era of change in work space, attitude and organisational setup, and the last thing you should do is to stick to the specialisation mindset. We’re no longer an essential cog in the wheel as more and more elements of our work can be replaced or enhanced with technology, which points to the need for us to learn how to utilise such technology in our chosen field instead. Job security is history, yet we have better opportunities than ever to carve our own path in this world.
Instead of specialisation, our best chance of adapting to such widespread changes to come is to diversify our lives. Same rationale like diversification in your portfolio of assets in the CFA studies, you can minimise your risks in life and improve your odds of coming out better if you spread your bets across various ideas. Here are 3 aspects you should focus your diversification efforts on:
When you first start out in your career, it’s everything in the world and it’s all you read about. The initial burst of enthusiasm is great, but soon becomes an obsession because you let your work define you. You ignore your family and friends, meet up less and devote your life to work harder without much upside – it happened to me, bad mistake.
Try something different this time, and going forward: read 3 different genre of books each time. Besides one related to your career, add in something about your interest or hobby (unrelated to your work), and another one such as fiction, self-help, history, philosophy etc. Complete 3 of them before moving to the next 3 different genre. Reading widely keeps you sharp and more interesting as a person in general, and through this you’ll learn more about yourself more than any other means – you’ll be surprised where this takes you in the road ahead. Your ability to connect with people, and mixing ideas together on your new project will jump leaps and bounds.
The same applies to acquiring new skills, whether it’s learning new languages, photography or painting – explore and pick up things that interests you (doesn’t have to be work relevant), as they keep you sane and make you who you are. The ability to continuously learn itself will stand you in good stead especially in tougher times.
#2. Diversify your sources of income
Job security is reducing day by day, in the traditional sense, at least. This is where you think you’ll work for the same company for life and slowly climb up the ladder (if ever). It doesn’t work that way: to make career progress, you must always stay in touch with your ‘market value’ by interviewing periodically (whether you’re serious about changing roles or not).
Think about it – imagine you’re an illiquid stock, and the only way to make sure you’re paid what you’re worth, or even have more solid bargaining power in a salary raise discussion is exact that: go out and obtain a ‘price’ of your services. Neither your boss nor your company is gonna do that for you, you’re your own manager of your career. I’m speaking from experience here, having gotten 3 promotions through this way, either internally or leaving for another firm. It’s not about a question of company loyalty or whatever, but it’s a business transaction and you just went for the better one, for you.
More importantly, take a step back and imagine what you’ll do if you lose your job right now. How are your finances looking in terms of savings? Are your investment making decent returns? How many months can you tide yourself over temporarily while you look for a new job? Can you look for a new role? What if your new role doesn’t exist or is less relevant? How would you reinvent yourself then? All these questions will hit you so hard in one go if it happens that you’ll be left paralysed, overwhelmed and depressed.
What about other sources of income? Besides savings and investment, do you have a particular skill that you’re good at? It could be an area of expertise at work, or even completely different skills such as photography, writing, cooking, programming etc that you enjoy? You can truly pursue what you love doing here, while earning additional side income stream through consulting work, writing and selling e-books, teaching a course … the possibilities are endless. You never know this may turn into something full time as you develop and build your reputation over time. Just start, and start small, and see how it goes.
#3. Diversify your network
This is not just networking for your career, but in general. Keeping in touch with existing friends from high school / university is great, but you also have to create opportunities to meet new people too to keep things fresh. Select clubs or societies of interest (it doesn’t have to be work-related, you’ve those at work already) and see if you meet new buddies this way.
Leading companies are aware of the benefits of such serendipitous encounter as it encourages interactions among employees who normally don’t work with each other. Steve Jobs famously designed the Pixar headquarters with central bathrooms so that people from around the company would run into each other. Such casual face-to-face chats among people with different skills may spark new ideas or solutions, so why not apply that same thinking to your personal network? You never know whether you’ll meet your future partner / boss / colleague / friend etc this way. Having a diversified network of friends and connections of different backgrounds (and maintaining such relationships) will increase your exposure to new ideas and thinking which can only do you good when the market changes.
How diversified is your life at the moment? Share your experiences with us in the comments below!