How Instability of Income and Occupation is not New

In the interesting book ‘Hedge‘ by Nicolas Colin, the issue of career in the new Collaborative Age (which he calls ‘Entrepreneurial Age’) is addressed. “The mark of the Entrepreneurial Age is greater instability at every level . It leads to permanent fluctuations in households ’ sources of income . Today’s workers alternate overlapping periods of training , wage – earning , starting a business , looking for a job , working as a freelancer.”

This obviously seems a significant departure from the Industrial Age stable wage-earning model that would require substantial changes in the setup of our social security nets, and in our psychology.

But is that really such a big change compared to the current situation? I observe a lot of my friends that went into more conventional careers being now retrenched or otherwise deemed redundant and who actually feel a bit lost because they were not prepared to this instability. The fact that people are made redundant when they reach 45+, in particular in management roles, is not new, but it is often underestimated or not talked about. However it has always existed due to the pyramidal organisation of the corporation. It has just maybe been accelerated in the later years due to more frequent restructuring, mergers and acquisitions. Thus, although it accelerates, this instability is not new. It is just that we are not psychologically prepared for it by society.

I find from my experience that it is actually all in the psychology. I have started my own consulting company at 40, instead of continuing a conventional career in the management of established companies. It has taken me some years to get used to the ups and downs, adjusting my personal system to have sufficient reserves in case of crisis, and it is now not a problem any more (even with Covid-19!).

Thus, be prepared for instability of income and occupation. But that is not new, and it is just that we need to be more prepared for it psychologically than what is usually recognized.