~Joel’s Blog

And Why No One Will Miss You

Look! There’s a parable in that stream!

A few years ago I heard a modern-day parable about the relevance of our careers. It’s been impossible to forget.

There were two men strolling beside a burbling stream. Both had long careers. One man confided in the other about his internal conflict over his work, because it had become, at best, stale and predictable. At worst, it was full of strife, long hours and made him feel valueless. Deep in his heart, he knew that his passion called him in a new direction, but his current position had brought income, security, even prestige. And, he said, “If I left my company now, I would lose the stability my status affords me. And I would leave my colleagues in a difficult situation.”

His friend pointed at the stream and smiled. “Follow me, watch and learn.” Squatting next to the stream’s edge, he leaned over the flowing water and pushed his hand into the stream bed until it was completely covered by pebbles and mud. “Now, observe,” he said, pulling his buried hand straight up out of the cold, murmuring stream.

What came next surprised me.

The troubled man looked at the stream and then at his friend, confused. “What am I looking at?”

“When I pulled out my hand from the stream, it left a hole in the stream bed, did it not?”

“Yes, of course!”

“And in the time it has taken us to talk about it, what has happened?”

The troubled man looked to where his friend’s hand had been buried and was now barely able to make out where it had been pressed into the gravel. As he watched, pebbles quickly rolled into the remainder of the hole, compelled by the insistence of the rolling waters. In a moment, the streambed was just as it had been.

“You see,” his friend said, “your departure from your company will be missed about as long as the stream took to fill in the hole left by my hand. Do not make the mistake of staying in your career to please others or maintain your status quo. Follow your passions for they will fulfill you and those you serve.”

Boomer’s Boomerang Careers

Boomers are a generation of people who, mostly, believed the right thing to do was…

  1. get a “good job”
  2. get married, raise a family
  3. retire before health goes south

Only after those three progressive steps were accomplished would it make sense to reclaim their dream. Only then would they become an author. Only then would they get serious about composing the music inside them. Only then would they finally get around to traveling the world, right after the retirement party.

Except more and more boomers waited too long. They assumed their health would endure for years after handing back the office keys. All those plans? Out the window.

A different issue is whether they wrap up their working years with enough money to make it through their golden years.

5 Reasons Boomers Should Quit Sooner Than They Planned

Here are 5 reasons you should change careers now, even if you aren’t a Boomer:

  1. Unless your current career path is entirely congruent with “your passions” and they fulfill you, start planning your move.
  2. Do you feel like more fulfillment in your life is more important than “the stability” your status affords you? Then start planning your move.
  3. In case you missed it, there has been a massive shift in the number of people doing work outside of a company that pays them W2 income. According to one count, over 53M Americans are doing freelance work (1099 income). Wrap your head around that for a moment. That’s ~34% of the entire workforce. Your takeaway: full-time careers are becoming rarer and harder to get. They’re also harder to keep. Start planning your move before it is handed to you on a pink slip.
  4. Depending on your current employer for “upward mobility” is not a reasonable expectation in this economic environment. Hoping things will change back to how they were in the 1980’s or 1990’s is likely to lead to disappointment. Start planning your move before you’ve languished overlong in a limiting situation.
  5. Planning your move means getting very clear on your “Why.” And it’s quite possible that because of years of suppressing your purpose, you aren’t real clear on your “why.” If that describes you, get some guidance. Going at this solo is more likely to delay your progress. Understanding your entrepreneurial DNA (crucial for picking your freelance niche) keeps you from trying careers you think will work, instead of playing to your key strengths. Go here to start the process. You’ll save time and hassle.

PFR Welcome Vid - Your Time thumbnail SmIt’s Your Time

You get to choose. Stick with the road most traveled. Or blaze a trail of your own. Just know, when you change careers no one will hand you a gold watch. Besides, do you really want the status quo or the freedom that comes from breaking out on your own and fulfilling your purpose?

Start planning your move. Now. You just might discover a career of your invention, that no one can do better than you.

Which person do you identify with the most in this parable? Why? What can you do today to engage more fully your passion in what brings you–and others–fulfillment?

Engage here. Leave a comment below. Want support? Check out these resources.


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