It’s impossible to ignore The Great Resignation. Starbucks has reduced hours, school districts are cancelling bus routes due to lack of drivers, and, if Reddit is a reliable source for the temperature of worker climate, people in the service industry are fed up.
But it’s not just the service industry. It’s estimated that, over the next 12 months, 55% of workers — in every industry — will seek new employment.
The reasons why are obvious. The pandemic has brought out the best and worst of people. With forced closures in most of the entertainment and service industry, alongside stay-at-home orders, everyone has had a lot of time to re-prioritize their life.
And, as employers scramble to hold on to their workers while enticing more to join their organization, there’s a lot more thought going into what makes for a satisfactory career.
Understanding our history, as well as human nature, can help you understand some of the larger themes of the time in which we’re living. And specifically, how those themes might be affecting your outlook and unconscious desires.
Things like understanding how to actually build a skillset from square one, the role randomness plays in our lives, and more. If you’re still sorting out what you want your life to look like, here are a few books that can help frame your exit strategy.
Quit, Apply, and Read: 3 Books to Provide Pandemic Career Perspective
Best of all? All of these encourage critical thinking without encouraging you to “be a badass” or posit that the secret to success is in washing your face.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”
You might have heard that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of study to master skills. That nugget of information comes from Malcolm Gladwell’s exhaustive research on successful people, and what helps them thrive.
Key takeaway: It’s a unique mixture of culture, family, and more that can indicate greatness, but one of the biggest indicators is attitude.
The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow
“We all understand that genius doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s seductive to assume that success must come from genius.”
It’s all in the title. Randomness is a huge factor in how our lives turn out, from who we choose as a partner to wine ratings to living through a pandemic and beyond. But while randomness is unavoidable and inevitable, it’s still governed by probability. And that is something that we can control to some degree.
Key takeaway: there’s a lot that we can’t control in life, which makes those things that we can control even more important.
Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind by Yuval Noah Harari
“Biology enables, culture forbids.”
Things that are inevitable in hindsight are invisible at the time (or, at least, obfuscated by those whose interests wouldn’t be served by public knowledge). Harari talks a lot about the pursuit of happiness through this book, with findings that affect your own personal philosophy. I read this pre-pandemic, but it would be doubly interesting to ready as we (hopefully) near the end.
Key takeaway. As a society, we’ve made it through a lot, and climate change/pandemic/etc notwithstanding, we’ll hopefully weather more calamities.
Work Accommodating Life
These three books won’t give you a blueprint to what your career trajectory should be — and, honestly, they might just give you more questions — but they will, ultimately, give you some perspective. It might be my toddler daughter watching “Moana” on repeat, but Maui’s advice to know where you’re going by knowing where you’ve been feels very appropriate.
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