Did you know there are over 500,000 career choices today? When I graduated from college there were less than 5,000 options available.

At the same time, technological advances are compounding, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to stay abreast of innovation. I recently read about an Amazon project to have “drones” deliver packages to homes, and Amazon’s CEO expects the technology to be ready by 2016! The impacts of innovation are changing the fundamental truths about the way we live, and consequently, the way we work.

Everything we were taught about career planning no longer works, especially using education to advance our career. Today, earning a degree is not as important as knowing who you are.

The revolutionary changes to the way we learn, the way we work, and the way we earn a living can be overwhelming, as they strike at the core of our identity. Who am I, if I am not my job?

I’ve researched these workforce trends for the last five years as a student of business models and corresponding societal impacts. What I found in the data (outlined in the book New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud) alarmed me. There is nothing familiar about this new world of work.

However, hidden within the workforce trends is a revolutionary truth about the way we will work in the future.

That truth is this: What is powering this new world of work is not success, skill, or career achievement. Instead it’s passion, meaning, and freedom. Rather than choosing a career because it “pays well” or “you’ll always have a job in that field” we get to choose a career based on our passions, the meaning we seek, as well as the most important aspect: the freedom to be who we are.

That insight led to another: Our entire educational system, which is built around the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” will have to be transformed as well.

With over 500,000 career choices, professionals don’t necessarily need a degree to be successful in this new world (sorry parents, but it’s true). As a result, the entire post-secondary industry must reinvent itself. New educational models and degree-programs are being created at a rapid pace. In the future, rather than taking the traditional collegiate sojourn after high school graduation, we will probably earn degrees over a long period of time, while working in a field we are passionate about, earning milestone certificates along the way.

In addition to education, these workforce trends will reshape the way we live.

We no longer have to reside in a certain location, because cloud-based work is plentiful. We also don’t need to stick to a specific career path, because new career options are being created daily as our world rapidly transforms, propelled by an innovation hyper-drive.

Drone-based delivery? What happens to the handsome UPS and FedEx guys who earn a living delivering packages to my doorstep?

When I entered the workforce, I was taught to BECOME the job and climb the ladder of success. “I am a teacher,” turned into “I am an educational consultant,” and then “I am a Director of Marketing,” and eventually, “I am President of an Internet subsidiary.”

Climbing that invisible ladder was my scorecard for the journey. Although I achieved success, I lost meaning, passion and freedom along the path.

The “I AM” my job title which caused us to BECOME our career, not to mention taking on the identity of the companies we worked for, is where things got off track. Our true identity was never defined by the “job”, however, we allowed ourselves to be tricked into the “I AM my career” fallacy.

GOOD NEWS! In the new world of work, we are defined by who we are, rather than what we do. The more authentic we are in our career search (or our business for that matter), the more successful we will be.

If you want success in the new world of work, BE WHO YOU ARE, first and foremost. Your job will change, your business will change, but you will not.

At Succeed On Purpose, we’ve developed a formula to assist professionals in in finding themselves.

1)   Purpose: Your purpose is your WHY. It is the core of who you are. Comprised of strengths and passions, purpose is your north star guiding you towards the special and unique thing you were born to do. Each of us was born with a calling, a gift that only we can bring to the world. Defining your purpose is the first step towards an authentic you.

2)   Persona: Your persona is your HOW. How you like to work, how you like to grow, and how you like to serve. From the physical environment, to the way you’re managed, to the amount of risk, as well as the type of work that you find most meaningful. Persona is your personal compass.

3)   Path: Your path is your WHAT. Starting with whether you want to work for yourself or for someone else, your path is a series of stepping-stones that move and shift AS YOU GROW. There are doors to open (jobs or businesses), as well as detours and curves (in the path) along the way. No door is “right”. Doors are just perfect for “right now”.  Even if you are a business owner (your door), the business will move, shift, change, grow and evolve. That’s why it’s called a path. It never stays the same.

Although the path is important, we are not our “path”, any more than we were our job. Although I am business owner, I am not my business. It’s just the path that I am on presently.

We are however our purpose and persona. That is WHO WE ARE.  We bring who we are (meaning our purpose and persona) to the marketplace (meaning how we earn a living) by opening doors on our path.

For me, as I’ve stepped into my authentic self, removed fear, and focused on growing and learning, I’ve discovered that the path actually happens to me, almost like I am being guiding from one stepping stone to another.  I found that pretty scary at first. But the more comfortable I’ve become with who I am, the easier it is to be guided towards bringing my true calling into the light.

So, what is your purpose?  What is your persona?  Forget about what you do…focus on WHO you are, and then look for hiring companies who value that.

As you know, I am a huge fan of Oprah, as she is a pioneer for being who you are.  Enjoy her words of wisdom and find your true calling.


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