In every career there comes a point when you are all washed up. Your face no longer fits. Your stock is falling. Your friends and fans are gone. Career stall can strike at any time. And it does.
I had early quarter-life career stall when I was a washed-up music journalist who had just turned 25. Then I had midlife, middle-career stall when I was a washed-up newspaper columnist with a new editor who was a budget-slashing bean counter. And then I had late career stall when I was a washed-up novelist whose last No1 was ten years ago. That is a lot of lows but fairly typical of these uncertain times. “The iron rice bowl” is what the Chinese called a job for life. But nobody talks about iron rice bowls any more, not in China nor anywhere else. The old career flight paths no longer exist. From Beijing to Brooklyn, from Soho to Shanghai, every job ends and probably a hell of a lot sooner than you were anticipating.
“People are no longer working at the same jobs for 40 years, with the safety net of pensions waiting at the end,” Jenny Blake writes in her book Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One. “The average employee tenure in America is now four to five years and job roles change dramatically within those four to five years. Among workers 25 to 34 years old, the average tenure drops to three years. Job security has become an antiquated idea, a luxury most people today do not enjoy, whether they are aware of it or not.”