Redefining Work in a Passion Economy
Dare to Escape: Chapter 2
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✏️ DARE TO ESCAPE: Break Free from the Rat Race and Create Your Ideal Life
Redefining Work in a Passion Economy
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
— Steve Jobs
The decline of traditional job security
It was 2003. I watched Dad at the dinner table, his eyes heartbroken.
After fourteen loyal years operating machinery as a tool setter and senior at his factory, he was laid off and replaced by cheaper labour. The company he dedicated over a decade of his career and life to ultimately put savings on a spreadsheet over his skilled tenure.
Just a year later, I faced a similar upheaval at Hewlett-Packard. Promoted to team leader after 12 months as a call centre operator, I soon found myself laying off my team as our roles moved overseas. I saw the confusion and betrayal in their eyes – and felt it in my heart.
These experiences, both my father's and mine, peeled back the curtain on a painful truth: job security in the traditional sense was no longer a guarantee.
My dad never fully recovered from that betrayal. After some time, he gave up on the pursuit of a full-time permanent job. Instead, relying on skills developed as a young mechanic back in Laos, he started hustling for cash by fixing cars for friends from our carport in South West Sydney, along with other odd jobs for cash.
As for me, I stayed with the same company. The grind was relentless, and I poured everything into my job until two life-changing moments shook me to the core.
First, I found myself physically and emotionally spent, a shell of my former self, leading to a harrowing stay in the hospital for brain surgery.
Then, in the midst of 2008's global financial crisis, I faced the cold reality of redundancy. It was a brutal awakening from the corporate dream I had been living.
The (not-so) funny thing… being let go by a corporation felt almost routine - just an old script performed with new actors.
After years of buying into the promise of job security under a branded banner, Dad and I both learned the hard way those assurances could disappear as quickly as roles on a budget sheet. No matter how diligently one plays by the rules.
In 2014, after working through feelings of guilt and shame for “failing” in my corporate career, I went on national TV to tell my story for the first time.
The Tech World Today: A Landscape of Uncertainty
In January 2024, I polled my LinkedIn contacts about job security. While the participant number wasn’t statistically significant, the results, particularly some comments, were revealing.
Ivan Chew, a Workplace Strategy Director with over 23 years of experience in property, construction, project management, psychology, training, and theatre, shared:
“Job security doesn't really exist anymore due to greater influence and volatility from market forces, a cultural shift for "short wins" (that's a bigger discussion to be had with the influence of "instant reward" in the 21st century), and the nature of jobs just changing. Larger corporations like the independent contractor so they can change direction (or cut losses) where and when required. But it works the other way as well with employees, as generally the public is sold on the "dream" of being "working for yourself" without really realising that it's a hell of a lot of work...!
Being multi-skilled works as a buffer (I'm biased in this) as theoretically, those who are should be able to find a job easier but not necessarily demand high income or be able to "climb the ladder", especially in a technical role.”
Steve Ash, freelance content, author and digital marketing consultant with over 20 years of communications experience, shared:
“The world of work has become very short-termist in recent years. Short contracts, zero-hours contracts and the threat of lay-offs means many of us are concerned about the stability of our careers.
The 'job for life' that previous generations took for granted is just not a reality for most of us in the job market in 2024. Even as a freelancer, I can see the change - which is somewhat ironic when going freelance was supposed to put me in better control of the long-term future of my own career.
The truth is that all of us, whatever our career path, need to be open to changing to something new, whether that's a new role, a new industry or a complete pivot to a new kind of skill set. Find the work and fit your skills to what's available: that would be my advice!”
The general sentiment echoed a lack of confidence in job stability, a stark contrast to the beliefs of our parents’ and grandparents' generations.
The Emerging Threat of AI
Adding to these challenges is the rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI). An Oct 2023 survey by MyPerfectResume found that 78% of US workers fear losing their jobs to AI advancements.
This fear is not unfounded, as Sam Altman of OpenAI (the company that created Chat-GPT) has openly acknowledged that “Jobs are definitely going to go away, full stop.”
Rise of the Gig, Passion, and Creator Economies
In response to this shifting landscape, alternative economies have emerged.
The gig economy, characterized by short-term contracts and freelance work, offers flexibility and autonomy.
This shift has been facilitated by the rise of on-demand marketplaces that established ways for people to make money, such as Uber, Airbnb and DoorDash.
Yet, it also lacks the income security and benefits of full-time employment.
The passion economy, however, is centred around monetising individual skills and interests to create a more sustainable, long-term career.
Adam Davidson, in his book "The Passion Economy," defines it as a system enabling the monetisation of skills from anywhere, challenging the traditional time-for-money dynamic.
Parallel to this is the creator economy, a subset of the passion economy focused on content creation. With a market size estimated at $104.2 billion in 2022, it's a rapidly growing sector empowering entrepreneurs, influencers, and artists to monetize their content online.
According to Goldman Sachs Research, the creator economy could approach half a trillion dollars by 2027.