You’re Asking the Wrong Question

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This is one of a series of posts on The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5.

Taylor Pearson says that everything you think you know about job security is wrong. All your life, you’ve heard that getting a great job and moving up the corporate ladder will provide you with income, security, and satisfaction. But Pearson says that the number of jobs is shrinking each year. We’ve reached the peak of job creation, he argues, so you’ll never be secure if you depend on someone else to give you a job.  You’ll need to take your economic security into your own hands.

“There are three primary reasons to believe that we are at peak jobs and approaching the End of Jobs,” he writes:

  • Sharp rises in communication technology and improved global educational standards over the past decade means that companies can hire anyone, anywhere.
  • Jobs are increasingly moving to Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe. The notion of machines, both hardware and software, taking over blue collar factory jobs is now largely accepted— but now they’re increasingly taking over white collar, knowledge-based jobs as well.
  • Traditional university degrees— bachelor’s, master’s, and PhDs— have become abundant, making them less valuable than ever.

Jobs and workers are becoming commoditized, and when something becomes a commodity, buyers stop trying to look for individual traits (and quality) and simply bid to get the best price. If your job hasn’t been eaten by software, offshored, or outsourced yet, Pearson argues, it’s simply a matter of time.

If you’ve never considered entrepreneurship, it’s time to think about going into business for yourself. You may think that involves starting a company, opening a storefront, and hiring people. And it might. But it doesn’t have to.

Here is Pearson’s contrast between a job and entrepreneurship:

  • Entrepreneurship is connecting, creating, and inventing systems— be they businesses, people, ideas, or processes.
  • A job is the act of following the operating system someone else created.

Pearson writes that when people find something they’re interested in doing for work, they ask the wrong question: “How do I get a job doing that?” What if the better question is: “How do I create a job doing that?”

You may not be ready for complete independence from your job. You probably value the benefits a job provides, like insurance coverage, paid time off, and retirement saving options. These things will be your responsibility if you’re entirely self-employed. Your employer has also probably shouldered some of the cost of these items, so they’ll be more expensive as well.

But I agree with Pearson that there are ways to increase your comfort with and confidence about being an entrepreneur – steps between employed and independent. Each time you flex that entrepreneurial muscle, you get stronger. And if you ever find yourself out of work, you’ll have infrastructure, tools, and mindset to cope much better. You won’t ever have to be afraid of being unemployed again.

Even if you’re not sure that we’ve reached the End of Jobs, it makes sense to be prepared. Learn more about how to build up your entrepreneurial muscle in the next post.

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