The 8 most important pieces of career advice no one tells you

The increasing complexity of modern life is making it incredibly difficult for people to define their roles in the world.

So, they’ve put a lot of responsibilities on others to direct their lives and lead them to career success.

The inconvenient truth is, the more we shift the decision making about our personal lives and career growth to others, the less likely we’ll enjoy a fulfilling life

We have more control over our lives than we think we do — you are more than capable of carving a path in this new world of work on your own terms. You just haven’t thought about it long enough.

Creating your own career or taking ownership of the direction of your life means creating a workable, scalable plan for your life.

“It means persistently monitoring your career situation, asking good questions, and looking out for your next opportunity. It means never, under any circumstances, ceding control over your career to your employer,” says Michael B. Arthur,co-author of “An Intelligent Career: Taking Ownership of your Work and Your Life”.

The people who succeed — in life and business — are those who decide the course and path of their personal evolution.

Truly successful people are those who intelligently design scalable systems as foundations of their careers.

Don’t outsource your success to a single employer — think about what you want from your life as a whole.

“Your life should be filled with purpose-driven experiences and projects that bring excitement, passion, energy, and authentic meaning and joy into your life, argues Richie Norton, the author of Résumés Are Dead and What to Do About It.

He recommends you ponder over this question and self-reflect to change how you get paid in life: If you had a different job…your ideal employment (or self-employment), would your lifestyle change…at all? Why?

Don’t wait to be compelled to choose yourself

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 on projects that bring out the best in you and makes you happy in the process.

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 evolve, 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 willing to pay for.

Starting today, you can easily diversify 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? Think again.

“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.

Careers move in phases and chapters

No career is truly permanent — things change and evolve.

Treat your career like a great book in progress. Make each chapter interesting and always be ready for the next chapter.

What’s the big picture and when you look back from the end, what do you want to see?

Shifting your focus from one major career to a career in progress 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.

Stay indispensable.

Don’t get personal about your current chapter.

“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.

Today, technology has changed everything.

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.

If you’re a pro writer, you can leverage amazing platforms like Medium to get exposure. You can create stunning designs, landing pages and websites to grow your audience and scale with time. You can also offer your service to startups and small businesses.

Smart passive income streams is the firm long-term foundation you need

Passive income can take on many forms.

Identify a special component of your skill and turn it into an info-product. Create a how-to, instructional eBook.

Are you more successful than others in your entrepreneurial endeavours? 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.

Valuable information is a hot commodity right now. Info products aren’t limited to eBooks — try creating on-demand webinars, online courses, paid membership sites, live workshop or write consistently on Medium.

Passive doesn’t mean easy money. It’s usually a lot of work upfront but with consistent returns with little to no involvement from you as it matures.

There are countless options, so check out what might be a good fit for your skills and interest levels.

Mutually profitable strategic partners can help you accelerate your career growth

Strategic partners are a creative entrepreneur’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 an investment in yourself

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. 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.

Be yourself, loudly

“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 can quickly accelerate your career growth by pursuing your life’s work. You can start with a 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 with in other companies because the service sucks.

Teach young people to do amazing things. 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.

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.

This article first appeared on Medium.