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10 ways to future proof your career

James Clift | February 6, 2016

10 ways to future proof your career The world of work is changing fast. Jobs everywhere - from servers to accountants - are being automated by technology, and the pace is not slowing down. It’s never too early to start planning for the future to ensure that your skills are always valuable.

Here are 10 ways to guarantee your success, forever.

Aim for the top of your field

If you want an average successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

  • Become the best at one specific thing.
  • Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

In either case, commit to being excellent at what you do.

  • Scott Adams, Creator of Dilbert

This should be your guiding goal throughout your career. If you’re able to break through to the upper echelons of your industry, you’ll always be in demand. This takes time (at least 5 years), discipline, and commitment.

The rewards are worth it.

Always be learning

My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long university education that I never had – every day I’m learning something new.

  • Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin

Commit at least 20% of your time to self-development. Take online courses, attend seminars, and read books in your field.

Continually honing your knowledge and skills will position you for your next opportunity and keep your mind fresh with creative ideas.

Cultivate a great network

To be successful, you have to be able to relate to people; they have to be satisfied with your personality to be able to do business with you and to build a relationship with mutual trust. - George Ross, Advisor to Donald Trump

The stronger your network, the stronger your career opportunities.

Surround yourself with successful, ambitious people, and add value to their lives. Having a great network will help you with every aspect of your career, and cannot be understated.

The best way to build a great network? Add value.

Develop in-demand skills

Basic economic theory tells us that if you want something that’s both rare and valuable. You need something rare and valuable to offer in return—this is Supply and Demand 101. It follows that if you want a great job, you need something of great value to offer in return. - Cal Newport, Best-selling Author

Decide which skills will be valuable now, and 10 years in to the future. Find a job (or learn on your own) that teaches you these skills.

Early on in your career the skills you’re learning matter much more than the paycheck.

Skills that will likely never go out of style: * The ability to sell * Computer engineering/software development * Data analysis and statistics

Develop the right attitude

Optimism is “an essential ingredient of innovation. How else can the individual welcome change over security, adventure over staying in safe places? - Robert Noyce, Intel Founder

Optimists get a lot more done than pessimists, because they believe they will succeed.

Master your own psychology to start every work day with energy and happiness - no matter what you’re doing. The best people don’t just work when they feel inspired, they work every day.

Build and protect your reputation

Money can be made again, but a lost reputation is gone forever. Sam Zemmurray, Owner of United Fruit

Similar to your network, you need to create and build your personal brand. What do you want to be known for? Decide how you want to be perceived by the outside world and take action to get there.

Don’t mess it up - in our world information spreads incredibly quickly.

Even an errant Tweet can screw up your future career (or political aspirations).

Be a risk taker

Every risk is worth taking as long as it’s for a good cause, and contributes to a good life. - Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin

The world changes fast. Jobs that didn’t exist 5 years ago are now growing at a rapid rate, and many job are becoming obsolete.

If you have an opportunity to do something unique, don’t hesitate to take the leap and gain interesting experience.

Do it in a calculated way - but don’t be afraid to trust your gut.

Figure out how to make your own money

The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career! - Earl Nightingale, personal development pioneer

The best insurance against unemployment is self-employment. Apply your skills to start a new business that makes you money whether you have a job or not. Whether it’s consulting, e-commerce, or selling popsicles, don’t underestimate the power of being in control of your own income.

Expose yourself to randomness

I firmly believe that if we keep our mind open and explore the unknown, good things will (eventually) happen. If I reflect on some of the best things in my life they are more a result of random events (which I took advantage of) than a concerted effort towards any single outcome.

  • Ben Casnocha, best-selling author

Don’t be afraid to seek out new people, new situations, and new opportunities. Open your mind to creativity and create serendipity in your life.

Be a builder

You are capable of making a difference, of being bold, and of changing more than you are willing to admit. You are capable of making art.

  • Seth Godin, author and marketer

Adopt a builder’s mindset. What can you create that will make the world a better place? It could be writing, video, software, or even lemonade, but do your best to make things and share them with the world. Start something - a meetup group, an event, a charity.

It’s easier and cheaper now to start something than it’s ever been. No excuses.

Start today

The future is uncertain, but yours is looking very bright if you follow these 10 strategies. Start now, and work towards the future every day.

Blost post author James Clift

About the author

James Clift

James is the CEO of VisualCV. He has spent the last 10 years building businesses, from window cleaning to software. His passion is helping individuals create the careers they want.

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