Thinking in the new year

My latest excuse for not publishing a blog post for a couple of weeks was that I spent the week before last travelling around the UK with friends from Adelaide. Much of my time was spent listening to music in some gorgeous Cathedrals (Edinburgh, Durham, York and Lincoln), but I also managed to enjoy some good conversation in local pubs (with friends – everyone knows you can’t talk to strangers in English pubs!).

Just because I’m not writing a blog post, doesn’t mean I’m not talking about the topics I care about.

I had a discussion with a friend that was staying for a few nights about what schools should focus on teaching. It is easy to criticise the school system for being out of date, designed to produce workers for the bureaucratic empire and factories. But then, as we got on to discussing what would actually make people most productive in the current and future world, I got to appreciating that maybe maximising productive output should no longer be the goal. How could we teach people when to stop working, when to be happy with what we have?

Then, my cousin forwarded me a link to an article in the NY Times which she correctly guessed I’d be interested to read.  The article mainly focussed on people’s need to make themselves busy, something that I’ve been fighting (though not busily) for a couple of years.

The article also included some discussion on careers. There was a comment that I loved: “if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary”. And there was a thought provoking quote by Arthur C Clarke: “The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play.” To the extent that work is the opposite of play, then he’s right. But to the extent that work is giving, helping, connecting, creating – then I very much hope it remains a big part of our world (and am pretty sure it will). So, we are left with a challenge of how to articulate the future of work, and how to ensure we leave what is good about work while working to eliminate the bad.

In the hope that there’s already a good way of thinking about these questions, I’ve started reading Julia Yates’ book Career Coaching Handbook. No doubt I will write a couple of posts with my thoughts as I get through the book.

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