If you’ve ever been claustrophobic, you know what it feels like to be trapped in the same confined space for any length of time. That maddening feeling that creeps slowly from the dark recesses within, suddenly catching fire your neocortex and the only thing you can think, or more realistically feel, is that you’re in a massive fear fire and you have to get out. Now.
Maybe you ended 2011 crying over your claustrophobic career. Maybe you ended the year struggling to find full-time employment where you live. Maybe you think that your choices are as finite as the literal number of jobs to job seekers ratio out there today, even if employers added at least 100,000 jobs each month from July through November of last year, the best such streak since 2006.
But in the midst of your panic attack, maybe it’s as simple as keeping your windows open and letting the fresh air quench your fire. I know, it doesn’t really seem all that intuitive, considering oxygen actually fuels fire, but let’s say it helps to satiate your fear and kindle a fire of another kind – that of choice and opportunity.
The long-time corporate model of stable full-time jobs with benefits continues to disintegrate and reconfigure into contingent work, project-based work, online work and an infinite number of combinations therein compared to the seemingly finite number of full-time jobs available today.
According to Elance’s 2011 Online Employment Review, the future of work will be contingent, global and online. As more companies seek instant access to talent and greater flexibility to run their businesses, individuals are taking control of their future by building careers as independent professionals.
It’s not for the feint of heart, however. It means you’ll have to:
- Take ownership over your career development and even take some risks.
- Take on various inter-related (or sometimes not) projects at once that have specific pay rates and end dates.
- Work from home and/or work at a co-working facility.
- Buy your own healthcare benefits and pay self-employment tax.
- Take more responsibility for how much you work and how much you don’t.
The last one can actually be more liberating than you think. So keep the windows open and take a deep breath. The choice and opportunity fire is waiting to spark.