Look out for number one.
While many find this phrase offensive there is some truth to the notion that we need to care for ourselves.
Career used to be routine in nature. People fell into a job path, cobbled together 30 or 40 years of employment here and there and that was that. Done. Career had little intrinsic value per se – low on Maslow's hierarchy – but people rationalized the trade-offs. There was an implied and sometimes overt paternalism of the old-line company bound to care for employees in exchange for pseudo loyalty.
Then things changed.
As globalism rocked to an uneasy start before most of you entered the workforce seismic shifts began to occur. The fabled employee-centric model (which was in fact largely fable) went away and employers began to watch only their bottom line regardless of the costs to anyone else.
Wall St captures the zeitgeist of the era very well actually despite Charlie Sheen's overacting.
In short, careers became jobs as companies stopped caring about employees to focus solely on profit.
Since company as career provider has disappeared a legitimate interest today is crafting a true career, a continuous arc of trial, endeavor and discovery. We have to manage our own career.
Its cliché to say young people are smarter but in career it may just happen to be true. If you're going to spend a big chunk of your life working why not make that meaningful? And therein lies the challenge.
How do we build this career, this series of steps and adventures (and misadventures) without the framework of a model to work from? Clearly we have to build our own model with help from mentors, key people in our field and contacts in other industry and firms. The exposure to what's new and different and emerging is paramount in enabling us to shape the questions we need to ask ourselves to build our own career.
This is on us.
In just the last ten years or so virtual and self-employment have become fully legitmized so you can now work and never once think (or miss) long-term employment in a traditional workforce.
The nauture of self-employment, the new normal of the workforce, is that we're always marketing ourselves, always promoting our brand and always looking for the next gig whether we're an employee or contractor. And that's important.
Yet in doing so we run the risk of not monitoring our own well-being. Not checking against that career framework we created for ourselves.
Selfcare requires us to reflect not only on what we'd like our career to look like – our framework – but to develop ongoing feedback mechanisms from clients, collaborators and sponsors to know how we're doing. We need input against our vision to evaluate our own concept of career.
No one cares about your career as much as you. Know what you want, go after it and get the feedback you need to improve along the way.
If you don't take care of your career, who will?