In the last couple of weeks, I have written about some very somber topics. A study conducted by Third Way concluded that many college graduates earn the same as high school graduates, but are left heavily burdened by tuition debt of over $100,000. Wells Fargo projected that robots will displace 200,000 bank employees within the next 10 years. I have also covered General Electric—once the greatest example of American capitalism—freezing pensions and being accused of fraud. HSBC, the large global bank, announced 10,000 layoffs, in addition to the 60,000 jobs that have already been eliminated on Wall Street. The unbridled adoption of artificial intelligence may result in millions of job losses and require massive retraining for those impacted and U.S. income inequality is at its highest level in 50 years.
Read the paper, watch the news, go online to Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be assaulted by vitriol, anger and pessimism. It's clear that many people are despondent over the current state of affairs in America. Although, on average, we live a lifestyle unimaginable to past generations, we feel that the good days are behind us. There is a palpable sense of doom and gloom.
If you look back at America’s history, this feeling of hopelessness and fear of the future is common. We’ve been through some difficult times and have always found a way to dig ourselves out, improve and move forward. Amazingly, every time a seismic shift, catastrophic-seeming event or frightening change occurs and seems like it would be the end of us, we’re able to figure out solutions and keep advancing.
Currently, we are collectively dealing with the impact of rapid changes including globalization, technological advances and a different type of economy and job market. It feels to many that this is utter turmoil and chaos. It's easy to get discouraged and feel overwhelmed. While that's understandable, in this new, evolving economy and job market, you need to become mentally and emotionally strong. You must learn how to possess the ability to adapt, survive and thrive. There is no time for self pity. It's a time for action. Here is what you need to do to succeed in this newly changing world.
- Learn to code, write and speak well. You don’t have to be a tech engineer, but it will be helpful to know some coding. It's predicted that many jobs will require this skill in the near term and future. The ability to write well and speak intelligently and communicate clearly and efficiently with people is prized by major corporations. These skills will greatly enhance your marketability.
- Develop a thick, impenetrable skin. We are in—and will continue to be in—a time of rapid change. The days of working at one company for the entire duration of our careers is over. Corporate pensions are a thing of the past. You need to rely upon yourself and navigate your own path. The odds are high that you will have a number of different careers over your lifespan. Within those careers, you will switch jobs, get laid off and sometimes get stuck in part-time gigs. If you are timid and afraid, the world will devour you. You will need to teach yourself to be strong, unafraid and not intimidated by what the future brings.
- Tune out the politics and noise. So much time is wasted arguing with strangers on Twitter and Facebook. I’m unaware of anyone who has ever said, “Thank you! That’s a great point. You have completely changed my mind on this topic!” Arguing or even just reading or being in the presence of people who live to fight, yell and point fingers is a waste of time. Concentrate your time and efforts on productive pursuits.
- Read voraciously and keep learning. Most of us graduate school and stop learning. It's like your friend who listened to a certain type of music in high school and never tried hearing other genres, as he’s stuck in a time warp. To remain competitive, you have to keep up with all of the developments within your field, as well as new trends that may impact your career. By constantly learning, you’ll be ahead of the crowd that chooses to remain static.
- Save your money. There will be times when you are in between jobs or earning less money than you did in the past. The mistake most people make is to live beyond their means. If they earn $1, they spend $3—believing that there will always be a steady flow of cash. For every dollar earned, save as much as possible. Having funds for a rainy day makes all the difference in the world. As your funds grow, you’ll have a second income stream. It’ll also afford you the flexibility to select jobs on their long-term growth potential, as opposed to being forced to take a job because you need the money right now.
- Embrace the change. You can't stop the tide from rolling in. Things change and you will need to be malleable and move with the flow. Instead of being resistant and ignoring your new reality, think of how you can profit and benefit from new circumstances. With change comes opportunities—if your eyes are open to it. How many times in your life has a bad thing happened, but because of it, you ended up in a better place? This occurs all the time! There is always opportunity, but you have to be receptive, bold and ready to seize the chance to succeed.
- Rugged individualism is a uniquely American characteristic, in which we are self-reliant, wary of taking aid from others and skeptical of government assistance. Think of the cowboys in Western films. They lived their lives on their own terms. Nowhere outside of the U.S. is as easy to start a business than in this great nation. It's also viewed as okay if you fail. We have the ability to reinvent ourselves, start over, take chances, fall on our faces and get back up again. There is a great feeling of taking the reins of your life and building something great for yourself and your family. We have fought and won world wars, been the first to put someone on the moon, freed ourselves from tyranny, helped liberate the world from Nazis, built incredible companies and have all the intelligence and information in our hands on a handheld device. There is absolutely nothing that can stop us from succeeding.