We are writing a book.

It’s called The Escape Manifesto.

We are on deadline for October 15th. We’d love your help, thoughts and inputs.

Last Friday we posted Discussion #5: The Money Question. What do you think? What’s your advice? which unsurprisingly received some passionate comments and ideas. Thank you!

This week we’d like to explore what people want from their careers vs what they currently get from the mainstream routes.

What does this mean?

What we mean is that many of us know that we want more from our jobs… more freedom, more creativity, more control, more purpose.

Whether or not we’re clear on our specific aspirations – most of us know what kinds of ingredients our ideal opportunities would entail (although sometimes it’s as simple as ‘anything but my current job’).

The problem seems to be that most jobs, organisations, education systems, and even advice are geared towards the old way of doing things (collect qualifications like they’re going out of fashion, work for years climbing the ranks in one big organisation, etc).

The hypothesis of this week’s discussion is that although we know that we want different options for our careers – we are limited by the fact that the world is still structured in such way that the vast majority of professional jobs with above-average-salaries and the most obvious career paths still lead us down a very traditional path.

What do we want?

  • To build careers with Control, Autonomy, and Purpose (see Drive).
  • To earn enough money to afford a comfortable lifestyle.
  • To find opportunities to work where we want, when we want.
  • To build businesses and side ventures to earn a living on our own terms.
  • To work on challenging problems that genuinely interest us.
  • To feel like our work has an impact that matters – on some level.
  • To have the chance to change roles and jobs frequently.
  • To escape from hierarchy, bureaucracy, and process.

What do we get?

A situation where…

  • … the majority of well-paid corporate jobs are pretty boring after a while.
  • … exciting, entrepreneurial opportunities are really hard to find.
  • … most of us don’t have the right skills to work in the areas we’d like to.
  • … few of us have the technical skills to build online ventures ourselves.
  • … our education prepares most of us for careers as generalists.
  • … big companies hoover up most of the smartest, talented graduates.
  • … our career advice is tragically predictable and mainly useless.
  • … we have a massive aversion to risk and potential failure.

Do you see a mismatch?

It’s human nature to fit in, to do what everyone else does, to apply for jobs on job boards, to get sensible roles in big companies, to play it safe, to avoid risk, etc.

The reality is that if genuinely exciting opportunities were readily available on lots of job boards – with clear application instructions and established processes, then many more of us would feel comfortable pursuing that route.

The fact is that most jobs worth desiring have been hustled for, created with the specific person in mind, come about as a result of conversations, internal networks, or plain old pestering – they’re rarely found on job boards.

Any business worth envying has been built with blood, sweat, tears and healthy amount of financial risk and potential for failure. People don’t quit jobs one day and slide into running their own profitable businesses the next (or if they do they’re the exception).

Our perspective is that the established structures of mainstream careers and education (which most of us rely on to guide us through our lives) are not geared towards the kinds of exciting, dynamic and progressive careers that many of us aspire to.

You don’t find the best job opportunities listed on Monster and you don’t find ideas for the most impressive business start-ups listed in the small business section of the Sunday Times.

People building lives on their own terms are currently the exception. Through a combination of luck and drive some people are out there ‘doing something different’… whilst the rest of us plod along on the corporate motorway… waiting for the dream job listing that is never going to come.

The future…

We passionately believe (and fervently hope) that through changing attitudes, new organisational structures, and emerging technology, the coming decade will see more people find work and build careers that matter to them.

To get there we are going to need education systems and career advice that will empower a professional generation to build a different type of career for themselves.

In the meantime… we need more hustling, more risk-taking, and more pioneers.

What do you think?

All comments and ideas gratefully received.

Have a great weekend and thank you in advance!

Rob & the rest of the Escape Team.


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