The long run is unpredictable, and right here’s the proof

Have you ever future-proofed your profession but? Should you reply sure, I don’t imagine you.

If I’m pressured to listen to a convention speaker or learn some self-help publication claiming to point out me tips on how to future-proof my profession I received’t imagine them both, and neither do you have to.

Future-proof is an adjective that I collect means one thing like to make sure that the thing of future proofing doesn’t grow to be out of date sooner or later. In profession phrases, I presume this implies making certain that one’s abilities will all the time be in demand.

IllustrationCredit score:Kerrie Leishman

Utilizing the nifty Google Ngram viewer, one can get a way of the historic frequency of utilization of various phrases. It reveals that we by some means managed to get by with out future proofing till the Eighties when the time period took off and has since loved an uninterrupted ascent.

Maybe there’s a clue available, when one considers that the rise of the usage of future proofing has occurred concurrently the rise in the usage of the phrases “chaos”, “complexity”, “transformation”, and “random”. An extra clue is perhaps that use of the phrase “predictable” peaked in 2008, and has been in decline ever since, whereas the frequency of utilization of “unpredictable” continues to climb.


About the one factor that’s predictable in all of this, is that when folks expertise uncertainty of their careers, it’s pure that they search for methods to extend certainty. Traditionally, they’re going through a shedding battle, given the phrase “certainty” has been declining (roughly) since 1800 – across the finish of the Enlightenment, and, you guessed it, “uncertainty” took off in recognition across the finish of World Battle II.

Our need for certainty in our lives makes us susceptible to opportunists, and even to the well-intentioned and overly optimistic sorts that declare they’ve a method for certainty – therefore future proofing. Other than the truth that the world is inherently unsure as a result of its sheer complexity, the true drawback with future proofing is the idea {that a} collection of easy steps taken now will deal with the longer term.

It’s the identical previous trick of offering a easy, quick and one-off repair, that may deal with every thing. It’s a variation on the hoary previous story-ending of “and so they lived fortunately ever after”. It could be much less interesting to convention organisers or publishers wanting to supply fast and easy fixes, however this type of oversimplification will not be useful.

Certainly, encouraging folks to imagine that there are fast and easy options that may deal with the remainder of their lives will end in disappointment or worse injury, if it means folks cease actively exploring, problem-solving and appreciating that we’re works in progress, and we can not “design” our lives now to set and neglect.

Jim Brilliant, FAPS is professor of profession schooling and improvement at ACU and owns Brilliant and Associates, a profession administration consultancy. E mail: Twitter: @DrJimBright

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