Our 21st Century Working Lives: ‘Reinventing Ourselves Again And Again…

What is the most important thing for a young person to learn in the twenty first century?

Being interviewed about his new book ‘A Brief History of Tomorrow’, Yuval Noah Horare says:

“The one thing you need to learn is to change all the time. In the 21st century you won’t have the luxury of a stable identity and stable profession. You will have to reinvent yourself again and again and again”.

For many people, our job is an important part of our identity. So when we stop working or when we change our job, it takes time to settle with a new image of ourselves: a new version of ourselves.

This may come about as a result of proactively finding a new job or it may be ’done to us’ via a reorganisation or merger, resulting in redundancy or a move to a new role.

Making sense of the change and bringing coherence to a series of changes may mean reviewing what we understand a successful career to be, plus finding a new way to tell our story.

Knowing ourselves and what matters most to us personally, helps us to be proactive in creating the life we want and getting the work we would like.

Perhaps by developing self-awareness, we have the means to create a stable identity, even if not a stable profession.

By creating a stable identity, we put ourselves in the best possible position to achieve the career and life that we want.

The following questions may help your thought process:

  • Which values are core to your identity?
  • Your beliefs and assumptions – are any of these limiting you?
  • What is your story: your ‘hero’s or ‘heroine’s journey’?
  • What legacy would you like to leave to your current organisation?
  • Will this affect how you feel about moving on?


Penny Shapland-Chew is a highly accomplished Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and Fellow of the Institute of Leadership & Management (FlnstLM).