Last week, my friend Amy quit her job. There’s nothing particularly interesting about this other than the fact that she gave her notice without any sort of plan for what comes next.
It’s pretty bold to give up a stable working environment before you figure out your next step. Simultaneously liberating and terrifying, leaving a bad job is great, but giving up a regular paycheque certainly isn’t. Part of me is jealous of Amy’s optimism toward her uncertain future; the other part of me needs to pay my rent next month and likes owning a fancy cellphone.
Up until this point, everything has been carefully mapped out for us: go to school, get a job, make money, feel satisfied with your grown-up life, etc. But what happens when you realize that perhaps this isn’t exactly where you want to be? Is it too late to hit the reset button on your career?
The short answer is: absolutely not.
For our parents and grandparents, a long-term career with the same company was the holy grail of the working world. But in today’s increasingly grim economy, a non-traditional workforce is evolving. We’re now expected to embrace instability and jump from job to job with ease. And all of the perks that come with full-time employment – job security, health benefits, retirement plans – just seem like outdated luxuries.
Almost everyone I know is doing something other than working full-time at a stable job. I currently operate three separate work-related email addresses and, on a good week, have up to five different bosses. We’re all enrolled in continuing education, freelancing on the side, working on contract and generally not expecting to be in the same job five years down the road.
I’m writing this column on a Sunday afternoon in a crowded coffee shop with more laptops than lattes, and everyone is working on some sort of part-time project. We’re all pursuing multiple ambitions and getting by as something/someone else: graphic designer/server, retail manager/blogger, teacher/photographer and so on.
I have one friend who works in banking and is getting her MBA part-time. She recently announced, without even a hint of irony, that she has started babysitting on the side in order to make some extra money. Apparently in a competitive job market you can’t be above stealing employment opportunities from 13-year-olds.
So maybe it isn’t so crazy to quit your job without a backup plan. As dreams of lifetime employment are replaced with an “until something better comes along” mentality, flexible has become the new full-time.