As the Millennial Baby BoomerTM, I like to stay plugged in to all the generations. That includes not only Millennials, but Gen X and Gen Z. Staying on their wavelength, as well as my own, helps me to understand how the world is turning and where we are going. We really are all in this together.
“The shortcomings of your past should not define your future.” Great advice! In fact, it’s not a stretch to call the pandemic a shortcoming in all our lives. But it’s not going to define my future! What about yours?
That quote is from a high school senior speaking at his graduation ceremony. That intrigued me. Only time will tell if living through the pandemic toughened up the Gen Zers in the Class of 2021, or if “going to class” without leaving their bedroom softened them up, with a false sense of comfort.
The same question can (and should) be asked of Millennials, as well as older Gen Z members, and Gen X too. Did the pandemic toughen you up? Or did it soften you up? Did it change your personal outlook about what you’re doing with your life? It should have!
TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL?
What can the rest of us possibly have in common with a high school senior — or a college senior for that matter? Those students now are ready to launch into the next critical phase of their adult life. The pandemic lesson for all of us, though, is that you don’t need to be a graduating student to be ready to launch. All you need to be is self-aware, and imaginative and ambitious enough, to do something bold with your life.
The pandemic gave us permission to think outside the box, because only now — in contrast to feeling imprisoned in our own homes, and even in public, behind masks and social distancing — can we really appreciate our freedom.
If you believe adversity builds character, these past 18 months were a gift. They gave us a life’s worth of motivation to work with. The pandemic has been a game-changer. But it won’t be a change for the better unless you, like those high school seniors, also take flight.
Like that senior who spoke of shortcomings, we all need to leave the past behind. Use the isolation and the restrictions of the pandemic to your advantage, but don’t dwell on its miseries and setbacks, or that will drag you down instead of lift you up.
LET’S DO LAUNCH
Just like seniors are launching from high school and college, a lot of people already in the workforce are ready to re-launch, by leaving their jobs.
As reported in Morning Brew, 4 million people quit their jobs in April 2021, the most resignations for a month in more than 20 years.
Others are re-evaluating their current job status and considering other options. Forty-one percent of workers worldwide say they’re thinking about switching jobs, according to a Microsoft survey.
I’m not surprised. If not now, when? The abrupt changes in how and where we work that were made necessary during the pandemic also point to some exciting opportunities as we move past the pandemic.
If there are silver linings coming out of Covid-19 — and I strongly believe there are — one of them is that it has given people permission to rethink their career choices and their future.
It’s as if people in jobs that they performed automatically and didn’t think much about went away on a corporate retreat all this time, and they were able to think more clearly about whether they’re happy with their job status.
It’s an ideal time to move on. New thoughts and ideas and possibilities should surround you now. We beat the pandemic! A celebration is in order. What better time to be fearless than in the midst of these liberating moments of exhilaration.
It’s not to say that you should pivot 180 degrees from your current job or industry just for the sake of what, today, may look and feel like a refreshing change of pace.
Don’t fool yourself — and don’t be fooled by the shifts taking place. Things will continue to change and in some cases revert to the way they were pre-pandemic. For example, the wholesale shift to “work from home” (WFH) that defined the pandemic already is starting to move in the other direction, with workers returning to the office, either voluntarily or by management mandate.
Some WFH is legit, and some is a lot of hype that I don’t buy. Don’t jump to a new gig just because the boss permits you to work from home. Beware of false flags! It may look like a perk on the surface, but you could find yourself trapped in a corner, and at a disadvantage for promotions, as a recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out.
Don’t dismiss the possibility that working from home might lead to mediocrity in your performance, while being in the thick of the office action is the better place to discover your best self.
On my Instagram account (@fischtales1), I posted a list of “6 Things Mentally Strong People Do” that the pandemic has made more relevant than ever. They include taking risks and embracing change.
Our post-pandemic emancipation is a big reason this is an ideal time to find new opportunities to help you “find your best self.” It’s not the only reason, though.
One of the biggest Silicon Valley venture capital influencers — Andreessen Horowitz — says that we’re moving into a “passion economy.” It’s a result, they say, of “online platforms that enable people to make a living off their unique interests and skills.” One example is Outschool, where ex-teachers and stay-at-home parents can earn a living conducting their own live video classes. Such opportunities, says Andreessen, have “huge implications for entrepreneurship and what we’ll think of as a ‘job’ in the future.”
Under certain circumstances, I do believe the sky’s the limit to monetize your passion.
PASSION OR POISON?
But going out on your own is not for everybody. It’s the biggest risk you’ll ever take and the hardest thing you’ll ever do. Be careful that you don’t follow a passion that others can’t relate to, because you’ll end up without a realistic and relevant business model and without customers.
My own experience is that you can create new and exciting opportunities within the company that employs you. That way, you’ll have a foundation of support, minimize your risk, and maybe find yourself promoted, or even get to run your own business unit.
That’s what happened to me, and eventually it spurred me on to build my own company. That’s the process I endorse: one step at a time. There are no easy shortcuts to success.
Prominent NYU professor and podcaster Scott Galloway, who gave his high school graduation speech decades ago, was asked what he would tell classmates if he was giving the speech today.
He said it boils down to three things … 1) work your ass off to be great at something; 2) make small investments in relationships every day; 3) invest in being physically fit.
Galloway adds that “This BS about work-life balance is BS.” I agree with that too. If you’re focusing on work-life balance, to me it says you’re already thinking about how much time you want to spend not working.
However, if you focus simply on working your ass off, as Galloway says, the personal time you need will be one of the fruits of your labor. But you don’t plan for it before the hard work is done. You earn it after the hard work is done.
So, what are you waiting for?
Now, make like those high school and college seniors who just graduated, and get out there and get ready to (re)launch!