Recently I heard of an engineer in his 50s being laid off after many years of service to his company. He's now struggling to find an engineer job and looking for any type of work. I think about the career decisions this person made in his 20s and it may have gone something like this. "Hmm what career path will be stable, while being able to make a good financial living, how about engineer". Things may have been fine while he was employed. Getting that stable paycheck every two weeks, great health insurance benefits, 401K match, perhaps even stock options. That all goes out the window when that company becomes less profitable and wants to lay off the seasoned employees demanding a higher salary to hire the fresh out of college engineer that the company can pay much less.
The example above does not stand alone. How many of us choose a career path based on stability. As Asian Americans perhaps it is our parents as well that want to nudge us along the career path as an engineer, doctor, lawyer, or CPA because those careers look good and are stable. Perhaps we stay in jobs we hate because we have to build up our resume for the next job once we are burned out in our current job.
Does a stable career exist in this new economy anymore? Perhaps in the past economy it was different where employees would stay in their jobs for 30-40+ years and then retire when they are 65 with a pension and 401K, but those jobs are limited these days. Jobs that were stable before like the United States Postal Service may not even pay a pension anymore when their employees retire. The economy has changed, and relying on a company or even government jobs to take care of you when you retire is a shaky proposition.
So what do we do? Are we doomed? Should we spend our lives bouncing around jobs close to our career line of work so we can transfer our 401K balance and rely on that for our retirement? We are looking at it all wrong. Instead of choosing a stable career or job, what about looking inwards first. What I mean by that is instead of saying "the healthcare industry is stable, that will be around forever so I will have safety, therefore I need a job in healthcare", what about a shift to "how can I align my passions with a career?" or "what have I always loved to do, and how can I make a business for myself doing what I love ". I get it, we all have bills to pay, but what kind of life is it to bounce around from job to job for the purposes of stability that does not even exist. Companies can make changes anytime they want. You are dispensable, you rely on the company for a promotion or raise, you may not even like your job.
What if you had fear, but took action anyway and created your own business while doing something you absolutely love. Where work does not feel like work, but rather you are living your mission in life, spreading your message, helping others, while making a living. From what I see around me, the people that are using the resources of this new economy while doing what they love are not just stable, but thriving from a more happy, wealthy life.
This new strategy seems much more stable to me because there is no income ceiling, no layoffs, and although there is no 401K match, you will be doing what you love, investing in yourself as your business, so you will be much happier and prosperous building wealth towards taking care of your own retirement.