The future is exciting for many people but for others it is also a cause for anxiety. With so much talk about Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and Robots who may take over our jobs this is not an easy time. The future irrespective of which era we lived in is uncertain. I still think the opportunities available to all of us are enormous provided we ride successfully in this era of uncertainty.I have identified the following 15 keys to thrive in the future of uncertainty and take charge of your career.
Be abreast of the trends – With the explosion in data, information, technology, change and competition it is absolutely imperative that you ride this wave of change by being well informed on what the future looks like. What you are doing today may not work in another 5 years. One skill which will never become obsolete is the ability to move others and increasing your sales skills is vital in the new era. So be on the lookout for changes and disrupt yourself before you get disrupted. Look at Kodak which was thriving as a business in the mid 1990’s and even had the first digital camera in their pockets. However they refused to see the change and were left lurking in the dark. We don’t know what is going to happen but one thing is sure if we don’t thrive with changes survival is tough.
Find work that matters – Not all of us may follow our passion. However considering the changes coming this is the time to love your work and bring your best self to ensure you are indispensable. If you love your work then it is not drudgery and your joy in life also increases. There is no way to have continuous happiness without loving your work. Take a deep look into yourself and find out how you can enjoy what you do while earning money.
Learn incessantly – Whether it is Thomas Edison or John Adams or any other successful person in my studies all of them were avid readers. To ride the wave of change which is approaching us we need to be consuming information every single day. The great news is all the information needed for us to thrive is available to us free of cost. Find the experts in your field, connect with them, read their blogs, listen to their podcasts and document what you have learnt. If you do this on a continuous basis you will succeed.
Be a leader – Leaders will always be in demand. Become proactive about your career. Attitude is contagious so as a leader you want to set an amazing example of optimism which can radiate throughout the organization you lead. Set an example by leading from the heart, taking calculated risks, treating people well, showing impeccable manners and finally sharing credit with the team always.
Tap into your creativity– Exhaustive research shows that everyone has genius potential. We all have creative abilities latent within us and it is up to us to record every idea we get. Engage in design thinking and have a notebook to record all ideas you get. Some of the ways to be creative are have some alone time, exercise vigorously, write down all your ideas, discuss with creatives, read about creative people and finally take action on your ideas. Wired to create is a wonderful book on this subject. 6 Ways to Supercharge your Creativity
Financial Security – It is more important now than ever to make sure you have a financial plan for your life. Your job may not have the security it once had so it is imperative to save more for a rainy day. Read some excellent financial books and make sure you invest in your future. Invest for the long haul. The stock market goes up and down and even the most astute stock brokers cannot beat the market so don’t try that. Instead invest for the long haul and stay patient. Of course having a conversation with a financial expert is the best way to get this ball rolling.
Develop a Unique Selling Proposition – The only thing that will not be obsolete is the ability to learn new skills. If you want to retain your USP and prevent brain drain then it is imperative to keep developing the talents of yourself. The key is for you to be known for a specific niche. When someone talks about you they should be able to talk about your USP. With your USP you will be able to get job security.
Welcome feedback – No matter how good you are there are areas you can improve. The only way to learn about ourselves is when we get feedback from our boss or mentors. Be open to feedback and take action on making changes on your areas of weakness. Not all feedback maybe accurate that’s why great self-knowledge will help to understand yourself better.
Self-reliance – Developing self-reliance means you are your own boss. Manage your career as the CEO of your life. It is your responsibility to keep upgrading your skills, taking certifications, being current and reading books in your area of expertise. Once you see yourself as the path maker in your life you will become self-reliant and the organization will also benefit from your work. Being self-reliant is not a choice but a requirement to excel in your field. Actually it has become a recent trend to talk about being the CEO of your career but Andy Grove wrote about this way back in his 1996 book Only the Paranoid Survive.
Stay resilient – Grit is the number one quality needed for success. Develop resilience by having a core set of beliefs that nothing can shake, looking for the good into every problem, replacing worry with purposeful action, having a mission statement and always bouncing back from temporary setbacks. With the future uncertain there is no doubt you will face setbacks and it is important to stay resilient. Here is my article on 10 Tips to Develop Resilience
Work in sprints – There is no point in going full out and exhausting ourselves. We all have a limited time where we can create an impact with what we do. It is imperative to take strategic time outs in your life. Schedule a period of relaxation every week if you can. This can be any hobby that gets you out of your work. For me it is reading, writing and exercising. I also love to travel when I get a chance. Finding time to renew ourselves is absolutely needed if we want to thrive well into the middle and later parts of the 21st Century.
Remove notifications– Technology is here to serve us. We can build a great following using social media to build our brand. However if we are always inundated with notifications our attention will be fragmented and we will not be able to really thrive. So we can remove all the unnecessary apps from our phone and remove all notifications. Try to log in to all your social media channels through the browser. This will ensure you will check it fewer times and it improves your focus.
Manage energy – Energy is the currency of the 21st century. We need to have a lot of energy both mental and physical to really meet all the demands of our lives. We can maintain high energy by engaging in some form of movement. I know everybody’s health situation is different so we should find a program that works specifically for our situation. Consistent exercise, good diet, good sleep and reducing stress levels all contribute to high levels of energy. On the mental side we can work in journals to get our emotions out. This idea is not new and Benjamin Franklin was known to write in a journal often. Here is my article on tactics to maintain high energy. 11 Ways to Have High Energy
Be a generalist – If you truly want to be a leader who thrives in the 21st century you need to be a generalist. You can have a team of specialists but the leader needs to be a generalist. The book Range by David Epstein will get you thinking about your career in a unique way for sure. The book starts with the examples of Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. It is interesting that when he was a kid Roger Federer wanted to meet Boris Becker and reach 6 grand slams. However, Tiger Woods wanted to be the best of all time. The key learning here is that thriving in the 21st century workforce requires us to be a generalist than just specialists. You may not be the best at something but if you have multiple things you are good at you will win bigger. It has a lot of examples across the spectrum.
Be flexible — In the current business environment all bets are off and what you think worked yesterday is no longer in play. To stick to something just because it worked yesterday is no longer viable. Being flexible and nimble is the name of the game. We should all be ready to change our decisions when we get new and better information. Leaders should keep their ears open to innovative ideas and accept that change is the only constant. I like this quote by General Eric Shinseki “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.”
There you have it the 15 ways you can get the most out of yourself and thrive in the 21st Century. The ultimate throttle on the growth of yourself is the lack of knowledge so keep increasing your knowledge. In an era of change staying relevant is the key. This is not an easy ride but we need to take it to really thrive and perform.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.