The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career! — Earl Nightingale
For better or worse, the days of having a steady income at a 9–5 job for decades are dying.
Entrepreneurs and freelancers understand this more than anyone.
Creating your own career naturally leads to defining your own day to day activities and creating a workable, scalable plan for your retirement years.
Because those later years depend so heavily on the financial decisions you make now, your career choices carry a heavyweight.
Richie Norton recommends you ponder over these questions and self-reflect to change how you get paid in life.
- When do you get up in the morning? Why?
- When do you come home? Why?
- If you had a different job…your ideal employment (or self-employment), would your lifestyle change…at all? Why?
- When do you go on vacation? Why?
- Do you dread Monday or is it like any other day of the week? Why?
- Who do you hang out with 9–5, M-F? Why?
The future is here
Today, access to opportunities is no longer limited to your physical location.
You can be based in Mumbai yet still have the opportunity to work for any hot startup in the world.
More opportunities and access to attractive businesses all over the world means more choice, more freedom, and less commitment to one company.
As work patterns, economic times, and digital technology evolves, the traditional work environment is growing, changing, and emerging with the times.
A recent Future Workplace survey found that 91 percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years, and that flexible hours and location-independent policies are more desirable than salary.
The future of work is a lifestyle of personal preferences, personal development, and personal responsibility.
The future of work means fewer hours spent on-site, locked into a cubicle, and punching a time clock tied to a rigid set of hours and rules.
“The mind-set of lifetime or long-term employment doesn’t even exist for many employees today. They simply expect to be at an organisation for a few years and then move onto the next thing,” says Jacob Morgan (an Author, speaker and futurist) of Forbes.
With job security a thing of the past, what can you do to set yourself up for success?
Pitching yourself as an expert is the ultimate form of career insurance!
“We can create the ultimate job security by becoming less dependent on the organisation for which we work and more dependent on our own resources.” — Bo Bennett
Want to thrive?
Pick a niche.
Get even better at what you do.
You get your greatest reward and satisfaction from the intersection between what you enjoy doing most and what people are wiling to pay for.
Starting today, you can easily diversifying your income based on your unique skills— a strategic way to create a solid, reliable income now and establish a retirement fun you can depend on in the future.
Aside from the change in the functionality and attitudes of the contemporary workplace, job security is an illusion for an entirely different reason.
If the companies and corporations of the past suffered bankruptcy or any other financial crisis, the pension their employees had worked so hard for simply disappeared forcing many of them back into the working world, often at lower pay scales.
Even when a company closes its doors for reasons other than commercial failure, the security of your job and the security of your pension are plunged into uncertainty.
Taking your career firmly into your own hands is the best way to ensure longevity, career and retirement security, and a diverse income stream.
Think you can’t create multiple income streams on your own?
“Surviving in today’s economy means having the flexibility to let go of the ideas of the past, the courage to constantly reevaluate plans for the future, and the presence of mind to adapt to life, as it is, in the moment,” writes Micha Kaufman of Forbes.
Career security should be your long-term focus
Shifting your focus from job security to career security is a simple act of understanding that you’re in control of your own destiny.
Use the skill you have to your advantage.
Learn other skills if you must.
Skills you can sell on your own. Marketable skills.
Build a portfolio.
Get your name out there, and not just connected to your current job title.
Do these things to keep control of your own life and career.
Even if you think you’ll never say goodbye to a “steady” paycheck, prepare yourself anyway for the future.
Don’t become stagnant just because you don’t want to lose your job.
“If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely,” writes Seth Godin in his book, Linchpin.
The most successful people put their interests, and careers first.
They follow themselves, and continuously find the motivation to equip themselves with skills and knowledge to thrive.
Keeping your skills fresh, current and relevant is the best way to stay marketable.
Identify any gaps that need addressing to position yourself as a highly valuable asset to any client.
Join the on-demand economy
Choose a series of consultancy gigs you can do as a freelancer.
Today, technology has changed everything.
“The trend points to a new era in which most of us will work in multiple “micro-careers” at the same time, leaving the traditional full-time job behind,” writes Kevin Maney of Wired.
People are choosing to work remotely, on projects, or build careers as experts in their industries.
Making those three strategic moves is its own method of income diversification because it ensures you have gigs coming in from multiple sites.
You can also establish your expertise in more than one area.
You can easily market your expertise in engineering, law, chemistry, writing or anything else to an array of clients, assembling a well-paid career as a multi-faceted on-demand worker.
If you’re a pro writer, you can leverage amazing platforms like Medium to get exposure. Can you create stunning designs, landing pages and websites?
You can easily offer your service offer startups and small businesses.
Create a stream of passive income
Passive income can take on many forms.
Identify a special component of your freelance gigs and turn it into an eBook.Are you an expert in a particular hands-on craft?
Create a how-to, instructional eBook.
Are you more successful than others in your entrepreneurial endeavors?
Turn that expertise into a how-I-did-it eBook.
eBooks are cheap and easy to publish and turn a small investment of time into an ongoing source of income.
Information is a hot commodity and people are flocking to info products in droves these days.
Info products aren’t limited to eBooks — try creating on-demand webinars, online courses, paid membership sites, and live workshops.
Identify mutually profitable strategic partners
Strategic partners are a freelancer’s goldmine.
What are they?
They are fellow career entrepreneurs who share your target market without being your direct competition.
For example, a graphic designer might form a strategic partnership with a copywriter.
Although they share the same target market, they don’t compete with each other.
Therefore, they’re in the coveted position of being able to refer work to each other and team up to win bigger clients.
They can even work together to pitch themselves to potential clients as a complete package that saves time, money, and run around for the client.
Consider making a sound financial investment
Investing well is one of the oldest forms of passive income.
Avoid making overly risky investments or investing on your own with no help or guidance.
Instead, opt to work with an experienced investor or join a local or online investment club.
Smart, well thought out investments, real estate investments, and bank CDs provide slow but steady growth.
Once a month, I buy more shares of the Vanguard Index Fund and that’s it. The cost is low, and the risk is also relatively low (when a company that’s on an index goes bust, it gets replaced by another one).
A great way to double, triple, or even quadruple your earnings is to learn a little about stock investments and put your money towards a low-risk investment.
With the right help and savvy strategies, investments can add to your income and, over a longer period of time, build a robust retirement fund.
Your only security is YOU!
The typical rat race with its glass ceilings and corporate limitations isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
For the segment of the population who might struggle to create their own day to day structure, a traditional 9–5 job might be their best employment option.
For others who have the resolution to create a daily, weekly, and monthly task list — and stick to it — entrepreneurship is their ticket away from the illusion of job security.
It allows them to set goals, identify multiple income sources, market their skills, acquire clients, and establish savings.
More importantly, it allows them to do it on their own terms.
Job security is highly dependent on the financial condition of the overall economy.
When the economy takes a downturn, layoffs, firings, and cutbacks are common.
In the face of an economic downturn or dip in the stock market, job security quickly falls to the wayside.
As an expert, freelancer, on-demand worker, consultant, or entrepreneur — you have the ability to shift your focus from one income area to another income stream just as quickly.
In fact, creating your own economy allows you to cater to recent trends, adjust pricing to meet current demands, and scale your company of one as needed.
That kind of creativity, flexibility, and freedom is what create real job security.
A diverse income is easily created due to the seemingly limitless possibilities of the gig economy, the side hustle, and self-determination.
Income diversification offers a layer of protection in the event you lose one income stream.
Moreover, it offers peace of mind in the face of looming changes.
Having diverse income sources keeps panic at bay, keeps bills paid, and keeps you happy and fulfilled.
Make a dent, no matter how small
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little” — Edmund Burke
You don’t have to cure cancer to make a dent.
You can make an impact in your own small way.
You can make a dent by pursuing your life’s work.
Be yourself, loudly.
Start a new side project, doing only one thing, but doing it very well.
Start a business that does a service you’ve always wanted, or that you are frustrated within other companies because the service sucks.
Make music that makes others want to weep, to laugh, to create.
Teach young people to do amazing things.
Write a play, get others to act in it, record it.
Empower others to do things they’ve never been able to do before.
Show up every day and work on your most important life work.
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it,” says Viktor E. Frankl.
You don’t need a lot of money, a large following, or fancy equipment to do your best work, thrive in the process, and get paid to do more of it.
Give a damn about what you really want in life.
It’s your turn to profit from what makes you come alive.
Make it count!
Excerpted from my recent book, Working in the Gig Economy: How to Thrive and Succeed When You Choose to Work for Yourself. It’s a guide to successfully navigate the new flexible and changing world of work, and pitch yourself as an indispensable expert in your industry. It contains true stories of successful freelancers who have reinvented themselves by choice.
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This article first appeared on Medium.