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Age of Options

There is an interesting workshop at Harvard Business School called Age of Options according to Bob Buford in his book Halftime. The purpose of this workshop is to ensure participants

that their next career phase is fulfilling and imbued with purpose.

It helps participants reassess their career development paths and define future choices in terms of personal needs and inclinations.”

75 years ago

My parents and their peers grew up during the time of the Great Depression in the 1930’s and started working toward the end of WW2. People were desperate for stability and security in their lives.

So they entered the job market with the notion of finding a good job in government or some big company and stay there until they retired. Well, this system worked for them and most of them enjoyed a good retirement as well.

Job security?

But during the last couple of decades, things started to change.

Job security went out the backdoor.

Even working for a big company does not guarantee job security. We even hear of people in senior positions who need to re-apply for their own jobs, because the company they work for is busy restructuring. Then all of a sudden people need to “reassess their career development paths and define future choices …” as Buford mentioned.

Quarter Life

On the other hand young people, entering adulthood, are often confused because of the many options for a career, where to live, when to settle down, whether to travel or work and how to find their life’s passion. Joanne Jowell discusses this phenomenon in her book Managing the Quarter Life [Crisis] – Facing Life’s Choices in your 20’s and 30’s.

Therefore, irrespective of age, one thing is certain; we all experience the effects of an “Age of Options.”

# Finding direction

To determine the right direction for the rest of your life becomes increasingly difficult the more options you have.

In 1943 at the height of WW2, finding a job other than going to war was about as hard as finding a needle in a haystack. My late father though was fortunate enough to land a secure job in the government sector. Options were few and he worked there faithfully till his retirement. How much he really enjoyed what he was doing, I do not really know. I remember though that he sometimes referred to his career as

It was the only option.

Nowadays we can do aptitude tests and career counsellors can guide us to which job will best suit our personality and abilities. In my father’s time you were labelled “disloyal” when you changed jobs. Nowadays you lack experience if you have only worked for one employer.


In 1943 having your own small business was also considered too much of a risky career. Nowadays, many people are obliged to consider entrepreneurship because of a variety of socio political factors.

Whatever your situation may be, try to ensure that amidst the many options available, that the career you decide on will match your talents and abilities.

Many people do not enjoy what they do for a living because they don’t know and understand themselves. A Career Direct Assessment will help you that find direction.

Also tune in to my radio program “Jy die Entrepreneur” Monday evenings at 20:00 and Saturdays 12:30 on Radio Namakwaland

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