Career trends you can expect to see in 2024

Career trends you can expect to see in 2024
Wondering what career trends the new year holds? Career experts Dr David Oxley and Dr Helmut Schuster reveal what you can expect to see
Fifty million people in the USA quit their jobs in 2022. It was a new record, beating the previous record of 48 million…set the previous year. Much has been made of the "great resignation." Explanations have ranged from the plausible (abundance of job choices and increased pay), to the more questionable, of government supported generational sloth.

Peak performance and the pandemic

We have spent our careers exploring peak performance in organisations, teams and individuals. The concept of optimal psychological flow describes a state of extraordinary performance. It occurs when our brain’s processing power is perfectly tuned to the tasks at hand. In sports, this has been dubbed "being in the zone."
"Our lives have become faster, more hectic, more complicated over the past few decades"
It is an all-consuming state. Distractions are banished and the focus is completely on winning. So, what happens when millions of incredibly talented professionals, striving for peak performance, measuring themselves against their competition, consumed by a very specific job goal, are jolted, violently, and ordered to go work from their kitchens?
Our lives have become faster, more hectic, more complicated over the past few decades. Where 50 years ago there seemed clear lines between work and life, today the lines have blurred. The societal context accepted a separation between individual and corporate identities. Indeed, there was even a tacit acceptance that a measure of servitude, suffering even, was to be endured in pursuit of an honest wage. The context has changed. In 2024, we have very different needs and expectations from our work.

The elusive search for meaning

2022 and 2023 were a great career reset. The great resignation was evidence that when people could pause, take a breath, truly take stock of their lives, there was something missing.
The trouble is we aren’t very good at understanding the root cause of our dissatisfaction. We have become conditioned to react to unhappiness with our jobs by trading them for another. All too often we make the mistake of believing that what may be missing from our lives will be solved by adding more of the same.
Our research suggests that a significant factor troubling individuals over the past three years was the desire to confront a simple yet deeply significant question, “Why am I doing this, what is it all for, and is it worth it?”
Answering this question requires a completely different approach. It requires us to look for a sense of meaning, a purpose, a deeper conviction that we are in service of a greater cause. Something worth fighting for.

Reframing the criteria for work in 2024

So, if you are one of those who felt something was missing, we recommend rethinking your philosophy to work and career. It may be time to reframe what being happy with your career requires. The good news is that there is a better path out there waiting for you. However, to find it, you will need to think differently.
"We recommend rethinking your philosophy to work and career"
In this vein, here are some prompts to help you break free from the old vicious cycle and strive inside for a new virtuous one:
Purpose inspired work
Is there a clear and appealing purpose to your work? Can you link your daily efforts to making a difference to something important. Look for an opportunity to work for a company with an inspiring purpose, or think about starting one of your own.
Help further a cause
We under-estimate our ability to do something in addition. We can always find time for something we truly love. If you aren’t in love with your work, try to find something you can love alongside your job. NGOs always need volunteers, new entrepreneurs always need advice, and there are many causes struggling to be heard.  
Reconnect with your youthful idealism
As time goes by, we lose some of our youthful vigour. Spend some time reminding yourself of what mattered most to you in your teens and early twenties. Sometimes we put these things to one side while we start our careers believing we will return to them—and then forget. Make 2024 the year that you fulfil any latent promises to your youth.
Re-acquaint yourself with joy
Give yourself permission to find one pastime, goal, or ambition you will conquer in 2024. Climb Kilimanjaro, learn a new language or how to write JavaScript. Whatever it is, commit yourself to something that inspires you to make 2024 mean something greater than the old familiar routines.
A Career Carol jacket
Dr David Oxley and Dr Helmut Schuster are co-authors of A Career Carol: A Tale of Professional Nightmares and How to Navigate Them, published by Austin Macauley Publishers and available on Amazon. 
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