EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

I have often said that a member’s visualization of his new job is his last job on his last day. In a sense, how could it be any different?

As accountants, we value our history more than anything else. This “rear view mirror” approach to life is one of the many things that can cause us to limit our view of our present and of our future. To use a well worn phrase “we don’t know what we don’t know.” The view of the future is clouded. The view of our past is in sharp contrast by comparison.

Our work history is hard won. By saying this, I don’t mean to diminish in any way shape or form the skills you have acquired that you now have available to tackle the tasks ahead. (I have always liked that phrase “any way shape or form,” don’t you?)

Anyway, the point is that over the course of your career you have acquired tools. Tools can be used in many ways, and not just in the environments in which they were learned. Small corporations can make effective use of the approaches learned at great expense in larger organizations. Companies in industries that vary significantly from the ones you were in previously can adapt that “wheel” to great effect.

Life in the future can only rarely be described as better or worse. For the most part it is primarily just different. The windowed office with 2 side chairs, a potted plant, and a long credenza may be replaced by a desk in an open area or cubicle. If you make that matter to you, if you make it part of your goal to EXACTLY replace all of the things you have “lost,” you will be looking for a long time.

As we get into our mid and late careers, the truth is we are all consultants. We may be working on a “W-2” basis, but when we are drawing a salary we are only between searches. Consider the nature of your most recent “assignment” and you will realize that most of the work was projects. Sure, there may have been some routine work like financial reporting, but as a senior executive you were primarily working on the “crisis de jour.” You had staff doing all the “normal” stuff like cutting checks or applying cash.

Your goal for the future is to find a series of interesting assignments that will challenge that brain of yours. A home for the long term doesn’t really exist anyway. And, even if it did, it probably wouldn’t make you happy.

Work for the long term. The long term goal is sharpening your job search skills so you flow as seamlessly as possible from one “work opportunity” to another. (Work opportunity is a phrase I made up, so when you see it in print years from now, you heard it first here.)

To end on a totally confusing note, your past is a ticket to your future. It isn’t your future.

Regards, Matt

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