I completely understand the reality of difficult job markets. They exist, they’re hard on the best of people, and it’s a very difficult pattern to break once you’ve gotten stuck in it.
We holler all the time about the principles of “lean” startups and failing fast and shifting our business focus to adapt to the market.
Which means we have to get better at innovating ourselves as the lifeblood of that market.
If your area of focus doesn’t have the same traction it once did, it’s incumbent upon you to make yourself relevant again.
Learn a new skill that’s related to what you’re doing. Immerse yourself, take a class, read a dozen books. Write about it, experiment with it, shadow someone with experience you want to gain for a day or a week or a month.
Throw yourself into something completely new. I mean completely. Learn a trade. Learn to code (trust me when I tell you that really good devs are always in demand).
Turn a hobby into a business. Write the damned ebook and put it up for sale on your blog (or on someone else’s). Hire yourself out to paint living rooms or walk dogs or clean houses or change the oil in people’s cars right in their driveway. Relentlessly comb through every idea, inkling, interest or ability you have and figure out how you can put it to work.
There is always a way to earn money. Your time and energy are worth something, and if you develop expertise, it’s worth even more.
Some of you will say “easier said than done” and tell me all the reasons you can’t.
Yep, it is. It’s easier to say than to do. And maybe it’s true. Maybe some of you can’t (or won’t).
But the world waits for no one. Truly. You are either creating the game yourself or you are slave to someone else’s.
It’s the thing that holds so many people back from pursuing careers they want or starting the business they thought of or even making ends meet between “dream” gigs. We get so stuck in our perspective rut, only seeing the things we’ve seen before, that it can be incredibly limiting to our potential. And then we relent, giving into the engine of relying on others to create our futures.
I often feel like I’m an alien because sometimes I think I’m just looking at the world differently. I look around me and know that if my business failed tomorrow, I could go get a job waiting tables while I learned to build WordPress sites and I could write and publish a couple of ebooks and probably even do some odd handy jobs around my neighborhood for people in their houses.
I’d find a way, because I believe one always exists.
And as much as I believe in “following your passion”, I’m a bit more of a pragmatist than that when it comes right down to it.
You know things that have value. You can learn things that have value.
When you stop looking at your worth as a “skill set” on a resume or a degree you earned or a job you held, you start seeing different possibilities. And oddly enough, you’ll start finding through lines that tie them together and even might give them purpose, however fleeting.
The nature of “work” and contribution is shifting. Rapidly. It’s not just companies that are creating markets anymore. It’s people just like you, just like me.
That market may be tiny, it might be temporary. But it’s ours.
The world values you about as much as you value what you bring to it. And people will treat you precisely how you allow them to, for better or for worse.
Knowing that, what investment are you going to make in your own worth, right now?