Broken ladders

Career ladder

At the age of 16, I was sent to see a career counselor. She made me fill in a form and then the computer spat out a list of suitable careers on a dot-matrix printer with the holey edges you had to tear off.

I was to be an accountant or a librarian.

There wasn’t any mention of being a lawyer’s assistant, who would find himself witnessing the signing of a will by Zoom from his kitchen on Good Friday.

Life and viruses present such situations.

Back in the 1980s, a career seemed like the smart path. My mother wanted me to be a bank manager (money, stability) and then a stock trader (money). I ended up a journalist, then an entrepreneur, then a newspaper publisher.

And an unpaid witness of wills.

Looking back, the idea of a career for life seems quaint and dull. There was the promise of certainty, which seemed the best choice. It’s easy to promise a solid future when you can’t see what’s around the corner.

But today, embracing uncertainty is where it’s at. Not just the uncertainty of the shifting sands of career, but now the uncertainty of a pandemic that makes next week irrelevant.

I’ve gone from imagining a career that would see me in charge of the Ipswich HSBC to someone making sure the dirty wine glass is cleared away before the Zoom call begins.

And that’s OK.

Life gets easier if we can go with the flow – the frozen calls and the printer wobbling on a chair.

How dare we expect certainty anyway? There we are – dancing on a planet spinning through the vacuum of space.