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Abandoned places

I love pictures of abandoned places. There’s something haunting about them. The way nature reclaims what was once a human settlement shows, above all else, just how fleeting we are. For all the technological advances, the laughter, tear, joys and heart aches that make up our daily lives, with enough time nature will reclaim all. It’s a bittersweet thing.

My father worked in the public service from the time he was 16. He retired at 55. While he changed departments – going from the Housing Commission to Civil Defence (eventually renamed State Emergency Services) – he had a longevity in his career that my generation never knew.

It surprises me now that he held a job in the same sector for all those years. It seems like unless you run your own business, there’s no guarantee of a job. Even if you do run your own business it’s appears to be a constant struggle to keep the doors open, the customers coming through the front door. One in three start-ups fail in the first 12 months of operation.

In my previous job I wrote a lot about Australia’s risk-adverse nature. How we’d rather have someone pay us than take the risk ourselves. I guess, in a way, I was writing my own fears. What if I tried and failed? What if I ended up losing everything? What if clients never came?

I’ve spent the better part of the last decade working in conferences. I can still remember the first conference I ever did. It was a Contract Law Masterclass and we had over 130 lawyers in Brisbane alone. I remember being so happy that across the country almost 500 lawyers saw value in the event I produced. Between that event running and the next the GFC had hit. The numbers plummeted.

It was the first time in my life I really saw how volatile the market in Australia was. Previously I’d worked in Call Centres and when the economy took a negative turn our work load increased. Working in a niche sector, viewed by many as a luxury not a necessity, brought a whole new level of awareness to me.

Over the years’ I’ve seen conference soar and conferences fall in a heap. I’ve watched sectors I know like the back of my hand disintegrate. And, I’ve seen sectors I’d never heard of take their place.

The buzzwords today are innovation, adaptability. Back in the 90’s it was Synergy. The reality for today though is businesses are dying. The digital revolution has taken place – and continues to do so – in such a way that the students today are preparing for jobs that won’t exist in the future. While the Turnbull Government preach to the church of Innovation, the pathways are not in place to innovate.

Youth unemployment is higher than it has been in decades. Australia has an ageing workforce being left on the shelf. Interestingly enough one of the conferences my past company produced was one on the Ageing Workforce. Research considered the “ageing” part begins these days at 45. That’s a scary thought.

The dimensions of the ‘comfort zone’ are changing. No matter what we believe, no matter what we were raised to understand the world around us has changed. I was talking to a colleague the other day about my time at a telecommunications company in 2000. The latest whizz-bang thing was something called WAP. It meant you could access your email on your Nokia. It was all the rage. I look at Smart Phones today and am stunned by how archaic WAP now seems, yet it’s the Grandfather of what we now take for granted, and that was only 16 years ago.

There has been so many changes to the way the world works in the past 16 years. Put it down to me being 2 years aways from joining the ageing workforce, but time seems to be moving faster. Some days I find myself thinking thoughts about time and I realise I’m turning into my Grandmother.

You never know what tomorrow may hold. Last week I was considering enrolling in a course of study for next year. Part time, at night. I hadn’t zeroed in on what it was going to be, but I was looking at my options. Friday, that idea bit the floor as I was made redundant and my income went from ‘alright’ to ‘nothing’ in the space of a 12 minute meeting.

We, as a people, need to be adaptable. To be innovative. Plans are good, they’re important but they’re not the be-all, end-all. Most of the time a plan is just random thoughts jotted on paper anyway.

One thing I’m determined to do during this phase of my life is to take the time to figure out the next step. I’m not going to jump in and react from a place of fear. I’m going to take the time I’ve been given and figure out exactly what I want and what steps I need to take to get there.

In the meantime I’ll take care of me. In that respect I’m lucky. I have no dependents. I am single. I have enough money for a couple of months. In the New Year I’ll start moving again, but until then I’ll practice being innovative and adaptive. That or I’ll finish knitting my Aunt’s Christmas present. I haven’t decided yet.

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