We aren’t working for gold watches anymore. We are working for satisfaction.

“I was sitting in L.A. traffic, and realized I spent more than three hours a day that way.”

“One day I just had enough.”

“I broke out of my cubicle and became cubicle free.”

All of these statements, made by different people our team recently met while in Hawaii, came from men and women who gave up what most of us would see as great jobs. Jobs at places like Google, jobs with a future, dream jobs, in a sense.

And yet.

And yet, they each felt confined. Constrained. Confused.

Until one day they came to a realization that they didn’t have to stay that way. They didn’t have to stay in jobs that no longer brought joy. Didn’t have to stay where they had lost their vision. Didn’t have to stay stuck, in traffic or anything else.

And they threw it all over and moved to Hawaii. It didn’t have to be Hawaii, of course. It might not even entail a location change. The epiphany each had was personal, and led them into something better—for them.

When we look at the evolution of jobs in America, it’s easy enough to go back to the era of the gold watch retiree. You worked a corporate job—either manufacturing or office—for 30-some years. When you retired, you were given a gold watch, or some equivalent that signified that you had put in your time.

Then the economy changed, and the gold watch turned into a series of jobs, most with little or no external recognition or longevity. All we had at that point was an internal drive that, well, drove us from job to job to try to move up some unseen ladder.

The economy changed again, and the era of entrepreneurism became a reality. Thanks to new technology, remote work became a thing, and, all of a sudden, we could live where we chose and do the type of work we chose. It meant that if the corporate world couldn’t give us an opportunity, we could—with our own vision in mind—create our own.

For a while during this era, entrepreneurism meant VC funding, IPOs, newer and newer tech, and dreams that focused on massive wealth. Until that, too, went away, as we realized that it wasn’t really the new normal after all. Corporate jobs began to look a little better as they adapted to employee’s new needs. While job security was a thing of the past, we began to realize that we could create the life we want regardless of, and maybe even because of, our job.

Up sprang a culture of creating “your best life.”

For those we met in Hawaii, that means spending mornings as a tour guide and afternoons perfecting your championship surfing moves. It means collaborating with friends to develop a better burger, better ramen, better sushi to sell out of a food truck. It means opening a clothing store, writing a novel, starting a professional blog, or becoming a sensei.

Very little is out of bounds these days. A job is a job, and is meant to add to your life’s purpose, not drain it. Whatever the job, even the most traditional among us simply shrugs and says, “whatever.”

Today’s job market gives you “permission” to keep moving until you find a fit, and move again as you grow. What’s more, it allows you to create your own job if you can’t find what you’re looking for in something already established. We aren’t working for gold watches anymore. We are working for satisfaction.

We’re now seeing new shifts in how people conduct business, too. They no longer depend on a career for life, and no longer count on a company to be there forever. We all recognize that job security is a myth, because we can’t predict a company being sold, a job being eliminated, or retirement funds being depleted. We are on our own.

In this uncertain corporate climate, society is adjusting and making room for our individual epiphanies. We are downsizing our homes. We are eliminating our possessions. We are consolidating our families. We are positioning ourselves for risk.

That’s a prediction for 2019—that cultural movement is all about readying ourselves for the “whatever” of life.

You may not be a surfing champion, and a food truck may not be your thing. But whatever your epiphany, you are not alone. Business is regrouping, too.

And we continue to change.

If you would like to download the timeline found in this article, click here.

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