Just what is work and how has it changed since mum and dad’s time?

Going back a few centuries to the 4th century BC, Aristotle believed that only slaves and animals should have to work. The thinking at that time was that life was for leisure, and provided you had food and shelter, you could go about more enjoyable pursuits such as sport, painting, travelling etc.

Then for about 2,000 years people lived and worked on farms and in small villages. Work was carried out privately in the home or village with little significant change.

Fast-forward over 2,000 years to the industrial revolution.
Public work (i.e. work in factories, offices etc.) has replaced work at home, and farms have become huge food growing factories with few farm workers looking after large farms.
In other words where people used to work to feed and clothe themselves, we now work in ways that have nothing to do with providing the basics of life. (Food, water, shelter)

In today’s office, you will see people clicking keyboards, attending meetings, chatting in “break out” rooms, making conference calls, adjusting their workstations, posting things on the net, checking out their Facebook accounts etc. etc. Sometimes it’s hard to see how their work activities are generating value in their job. (More about value adding later in the book.)

The very nature of work has changed. As Elaine Glaser says in “Get Real” (2012)
“Work is surreal. So many jobs are unrelated to the specifics of sustaining life.”

There is good news and bad news for you because of these changes. The effects of these changes in work mean that you have a greater choice of work career than ever before. There are so many more jobs available today than ever before. Jobs are continually being created and destroyed.

It’s good because IF you can work out what you are good at, then the chances are you can work in an area where you are best suited and which might bring you the most rewards and happiness.

It could be bad because it translates into more pressure on you to find your “dream job”.

There is a trend nowadays for people to switch jobs and careers more than 5 times in their life, in search of something better. This change is brought about either because the person is unhappy in their job, or because the job they had has disappeared.

Whatever the reason, the lesson for you is that you need to be ready to make the change, preferably on your terms. This means that you have to gather the resources and skills to make the move while you are still in work.

When your mum left school the career options were pretty much limited to being a teacher, secretary, nurse, hairdresser, or stay at home mum. Now there’s greater opportunity in terms of numbers of different careers, but there is also added pressure to find the “right career”.

Not only to work, have kids, get ahead, but you are also expected to be happy at work and live the dream – while keeping your mobile on 24 hours, in case the boss wants a chat.

So maybe you’ve avoided the “work” question for a few years by going to university? Great. That means that you can make your career choice later, but there’s absolutely no evidence that graduates are any better prepared for work than school leavers.

This could be because there is so much choice, or because technology is changing jobs, but mostly it is extremely difficult to know what you want from work without having all the information.

This book will help you do well at whatever you decide to do, but it won’t tell you what career is best for you. Only you know that, and only you can decide.