The best perspective for any young professional

How long do you plan to stay in your current job?

How long do you plan to stay with the organization that employs you?

Hell, how long do you plan to live in the area in which you’re currently shacked up?

I’m relatively new to my current job, and for that matter, my career. However, one thing is as true now as it will be in 40 years: I can’t work forever. And I won’t work forever. Same goes for you.

My career is a part of my identity but it won’t be forever. I’d be shocked if my current day job or my next one will be the one from which I formally retire.

I don’t intend to discuss the tired topic of the  job-hopping millennial stereotype which may in fact not exist. (This same article points out that transition happens over the course of work life, as it has for generations.) I also don’t intend to discuss  the short end of the stick offered up to those who graduated with a bachelor’s degree after 2008.

My point is that work life needs to be put into perspective. Your career is important but it won’t last forever. Your current job is a huge part of your life but it won’t always be your life.

Life causes circumstances to change. You may need to move. You may need to scale back or scale up with the role in which your job and income play in your life. If you have the opportunity to reach retirement, and have planned accordingly, you are going to want to retire when the time comes.

Our identities don’t need to be defined by our current circumstances.

You may always be learning (or should), but very few of us are full-time students for longer than a few years. I identify as a learner but after 13 years of K-12, four years of undergraduate funtimes and two years of graduate study, I’m certainly not going back to school.

Parents will always have a place in their lives for their children, but ideally, kids will only be living at home for 18 years. My parents certainly don’t want me pulling into their driveway with a U-Haul.

Even if your career is entrenched in your identities, it’s not realistic to believe that you’ll work at your current job, or any job, for every moment of the rest of your life.

My partner will always be an engineer–believe me (anyone else there appreciate my engineer humor? There’s a lot more where that came from). But he’s likely not going to be employed as an engineer for the rest of his life. If he (and I) are fortunate that he lives to be well into his 60s, he’ll certainly be actively pursuing retirement.

You’ll not be in your current job, dream job, or any job, for the rest of your life. This fact makes you prioritize learning a new skill or keeping your resume or personal website up to date. This slight emotional distance makes a bad day just that: a day. A rough patch at work becomes a tremendous learning opportunity that can propel you toward your next move.

Your work life is based upon a series of decisions. How will you decide to think about your current job?

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