Big Ideas: Traditional notions of a profession are giving way to multiple jobs.
We are spending our time trying to find meaning and purpose with our lives. Many of the projects we work on are not jobs at all.
We are in an age of abundance where people are finding that more work and more consumption are not satisfying. Many of us are choosing to work less.
For a while now we have been moving from the Job 1.0 into the Job 2.0 phase. In the Job 1.0 era life was simple. You were born, studied something (in college or on the street) for about 10 years and then start practicing what you learned until you retired. When people asked you what you did you answered ‘Plumber’, ‘Architect’, ‘Photographer’ or ‘Dentist’ and people would know what you were talking about…
The Job 2.0 era gives us all an opportunity to have more than one profession at a time. Plumbers don’t just do plumbing anymore. They have to be in marketing and PR as well and offer more related services than just plumbing to satisfy market demand. Architects aren’t just designing buildings anymore. They also design cities, furniture, books and gadgets.
Boris believes the first reason for our shift to these multiple ‘jobs’ is;
Our tools are becoming increasingly more powerful but also easier to learn. The learning curve for a lot of skills has decreased immensely over the past years.
The second reason he mentions is the internet because;
Now, with the internet at your disposal you don’t need millions of fans to be a star. You just need a small but loyal following.
I agree with Boris that the “the learning curve for a lot of skills has decreased immensely over the past years.” However, what it really means is that there is more competition at every skill level and you have to be increasingly exceptional to standout. Everyone is good now, so good is no longer enough.
I also agree that a ‘small but loyal following’ are all that is needed for decent success, although collecting those fans is getting increasingly harder. When everyone blogs, blogging is no longer enough. When everyone can get thousands of twitter followers or facebook fans then the value of those followers diminishes.
We all have access to the same tools, skills and marketing channels now. A Filipino graphic designer that a decade ago would have worked for a few dollars per hour is now competing with New York artists. There is a democratization of technology, skills and marketing channels. Hyper-competition means that there are diminishing returns to additional effort. Why work harder if it doesn’t really make much of a difference?
I would almost argue that it is not “Job2.0″ at all. We are moving away from the industrial age notion of having to work 40 plus hours a week for a living. Many of us are spending more time on projects and hobbies that have little chance of earning us a living. We are volunteering more, travelling more, learning more and experiencing more.
The Age of Abundance
We are richer than ever. Most people are no longer working for food, shelter and clothing. Obesity is a bigger problem than lack of food in richer countries. We keep moving to larger and more posh housing and we are more likely to discard unfashionable clothes than wear them out. We have an over-supply of every product and service. Even previously ‘rich’ illnesses of obesity and heart problems have shifted predominantly to the poor in developed nations.
Corporations have trained us to be consumers wanting infinitely more goods and services. Increased consumption requires more work to pay for our excesses. More purchases are not making us happier so more people are juggling multiple roles, as author Ian Sanders describes, to bring satisfaction to our lives. Much of what we do in our free time (blogging, design, music, sports, volunteering, etc.) is not about having a ‘job’ at all. We are doing things that bring us enjoyment, not necessarily income. In this age of abundance, more and more people are willing to trade income for time. I argue that we are not entering Job2.0 but actually something more akin to life 2.0. We all need to earn a living, but if we keep our expenses down work can be a much smaller part of our lives. I think this is evidenced by the increase in people retiring early or like myself, taking mid-career breaks to travel the world and work on other projects.
How much is enough?
More people are starting to realize that if they get off the consumption band-wagon they can actually work less and experience more.
Goods and services are abundant but time, attention, values and health will always be scarce. Where do you want to focus the bulk of your time? Is it more important constantly work to afford the latest trendy gadgets and fashion or would you rather spend your time doing things you enjoy with people you like? For the sake of the environment and our own sanity, I hope more people start to embrace Life2.0 rather than Job2.0.