Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another GenXer in Flux

I want to break my default settings. I want out of the day-to-day life of boredom, routine, and petty frustration (with a nod to David Foster Wallace, linked above).
I know most people don’t think their desires are unreasonable. Except, when I say mine aloud, the people around me scoff. Audibly.
Some of my favorite nay-sayings:
·         Just be glad you have a job.
·         You may have to take what you can get.
·         Well everyone wants that, but be realistic.
·         If the opportunity presents itself, sure, but it’s unlikely.
·         How will you make money that way?
·         I just don’t see how it would work.
The last one is Cuk, my ROI-model-requiring husband. Show me the plan, give me the proof, explain exactly how it will work and also, what the back-up plan is.
Stick to what you know
Most of these voices come from a traditional economy. The traditional economy looks like this: eight-to-five work day, five days a week, office, cubicle, meetings, Outlook calendars, phone extensions, regular paychecks with direct deposit and 401k contributions.
Stability, right? Not so in 2008. Not so in 2009.
I am grateful for having “survived.” I'm grateful for my employer having “survived,” under incredibly competent leadership, with only a small share of the overall casualties. I know my family was extremely lucky and continues to benefit from the benevolence of stable, profitable companies.
But it’s not 2009 anymore. And I'm moving to Clemson Road.
This article suggests mine is a generation of workers in “flux.” All of the people appearing as examples in the article are Generation X. Remember us? When we came into the workforce we wanted to disrupt it, we wanted to change it. We wanted the workforce to be what we wanted it to be. Flexible hours, remote employment, life-balance.
But we didn’t know anything.

Or maybe learn what you don't
So we got in line, we worked the way we were told to work, and we learned. Now these workers are moving from field to field, applying experience in one role to a different opportunity, and that experience to a third role, and that experience to a fourth opportunity. They are taking independence seriously and crafting their own career trajectories.
Not all of Generation X is thus employed. I know several GenXers comfortably ensconced in cubedom with their job’s reliability wrapped snugly around them like Christmas lights blinking on a front porch all year long.
I am married to someone whose own business is so rigidly structured that his career path is predetermined. It works for him. It works for DTC.
What I have learned is that when uncertainty is the order of the day, it helps to be flexible.
Adapt and overcome
I asked a friend’s mom for assistance breaking into a particular consulting firm. She said my resume was strong but lacked direction. "What do all of these diverse experiences have in common?" she asked. I couldn’t help but smile.
The Fast Company article suggests those who can adapt will not just survive in a disrupted economy, but thrive. I read that and I think #manifesto. Then I read the comments which are less-than-enthusiastic, borderline curmudgeonly.
Have we lost our ability to innovate? To reinvent? I believe we have a disrupted economy. Despite tales of recovery meant to encourage, we are not headed back to where we were. We will not ever be there again. I think #getinthegame. Be brave, be willing.
There are risks, I know. Building an ROI model for Cuk, listing the pros and cons in a neat table for full discussion, reins in and checks my (#manifesto) enthusiasm, it forces my aspirations to display price tags. But I’m okay with that.
Mostly, and perhaps disturbingly, I am not afraid.
I’m told I should be. I can hear a chorus of clucking, whispering, head-shaking, and general disapproval. But it isn’t a tongue ring, folks, it’s a new career.
Am I willing to try something new? Will I give my daughter another example of bravery and confidence a la Lady Gaga?
The mind map has these words associated with Generation Flux: curiosity, moment, talent, opportunity, willing, courage, and risk. None of these words is any bigger than the others.
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Just an FYI – the three ideas Lady Gaga, ROI, and Generation Flux will be examined in their full interconnectedness before the end of the week. Stay tuned.
# -- hash tags are intentional, folks. If you don't get it read this on subtext.

3 comments:

  1. Hmmm, interesting blog Kasie. I had to look up the qualification for GenX (surprisingly I'm part of it... I thought it was after me), so my initial thoughts were negated (that this isn't a generational mindset, it's a personality one). I can't substantiate that now.

    I changed jobs by choice for many years (through economic instability and properous times), not finding one I was satisfied staying in permanently - lacking "direction" was never a consideration - I was on the hunt for something I loved doing.

    It took me 14 years to stay with any company more than 3 years, and now I have 13 years tenure. Do I consider myself resigned to a cube? Nope. I consider myself having found the right balance of environment and opportunity to learn, grow and utilize my skillset.

    I think more the quest of this generation is to not just find employment, but to find your ideal environment. Some take a paycheque as compensation for compromise - that ROI is different for everyone.

    As to your resume lacking direction... I would think diversity would be a good thing, but then what do I know? :) Good luck with your search for your ideal environment (and sorry for the incredibly long comment)!

    Ann

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    1. Thanks, Ann.

      I like the phrase "compensation for compromise." I'll be sure to steal that later :-)

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  2. I suppose I am the ROI requiring wife in our family. It makes communication easier to be so straight forward with your demands. Through this process, my husband has negotiated for a kegerator, direct tv, and a ten year anniversary trip ( though the income in that model was mostly intangible).
    The best and worst thing about ROI is there is no spot for emotion. When I read your post I can almost hear the banging of your emotional side bumping into your analytical side. Can they find compromise?

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