Now, more than ever, Americans need to focus on the future. By that, I mean, preparing young people who will be seeking meaningful employment, understanding how the workplace is changing, and educating ourselves to keep pace with what will be needed. Tall order, right? Not really. It depends on what you want to spend your time doing. Arguing about identity politics, class warfare – or solving the problems we will encounter in the very near future. I prefer to be in the latter category. So, here’s what I should be focused on:
- I’m reading voraciously about what jobs will soon be done by robotics. I’m channeling the young people in my world to choose a field that will still need a human being. Jobs like plumbing and heating installation, well drilling, electricians, flooring installation are all still in need of a human touch. With an aging population, in-home care-giving is on the verge of surging to a new level of need.
- I encourage all around me to utilize on-line coursework as much as possible. Kahn Academy is just one of the many, high quality learning institutions free and on-line right now. This is a burgeoning business. Hillsdale College has a course on our Constitution, free of charge. Ivy League schools have free coursework available, free, on-line, also. What are you waiting for? What are you interested in? Learn as much as you can about your passion!
- I like the idea of being my own boss. I’m the master of my own destiny. Sounds corny, I know. But, America is still the best place on the planet to start your own business. The worldwide reach of the internet gives us so many possibilities. Instead of playing games or wasting time with social media, I encourage people to think about starting their own business (after you’ve completed Step 1 and 2 above).
- I set aside time to talk with real live people on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, an elderly person in an assisted living community or a mother raising toddlers, it’s important to find a friend and take a walk, play a card game, talk about your life or do some of your favorite things. As humans, it’s been scientifically proven – we need one another. We crave human touch, connection, laughter. This is important to our health and well-being.
- I’m careful about watching too much television, playing video games excessively, or doing any one thing too much because that can actually cause depression. As a society, we’ve been spending too much time Keeping Up With The Kardashians or whoever is the newest celebrity. Trust me, you will not learn anything by watching shows like that. Watching television is in the junk food category for my brain. It does nothing to stimulate it. A good movie or a book will not only help to protect my brain from aging, but it’s proven science that reading novels and imagining scenes work on a part of the human brain that seldom gets exercised.
- How will technology shape the future workplace? I envision a lot less commuting and much more on-line employment. What skills will be needed for this? How can I help prepare those who will do technology-oriented jobs? I spend time researching these subjects because this is what will impact all our lives – and the lives of our children. You don’t have children? These changes will still impact you.
- Did you know that by age seven, children will give significant clues as to what career field they’re interested in? Fascinating, right? But, it’s up to us – the adults – to help them move along toward that goal. How do you find your passion? If you have a thing that you do everyday, something that stimulates your mind, gives you a feeling of accomplishment, you will never work a day in your life. Doing what you love is a gift from God. It’s being in the right place at the right time. Everyone has this potential inside of them.
- I never followed the crowd. A four or six-year college education is not necessarily for everyone. There are many people who are happier working in the arts, becoming a sous chef, or happy raising animals on a farm. Then there are kids who have a desire to take things apart and put them back together again – really complex things. I recently listened to the words of a cutting edge cardiac surgeon, employing micro-techniques to repair arteries in the hearts of people in their 80’s and 90’s. He is improving the quality of life for people who are at the end of their journey. But, he started out doing neo-natal heart surgeries. Point is, as a child, he took apart complex items in the house and put them together again. His parents found this annoying sometimes. The important thing is: they noticed how detailed he was and encouraged his obsession. For that career field, he needed to take the medical educational route to become a surgeon, but he spoke with great passion about what he does, even now, after 25 years of doing it.
The point I’m trying to make here is simple. What you nurture in your life will grow and blossom. What you ignore will wither and die. Think about that within your relationships: your marriage, your spouse, your friendships. You have a lot more power than you think to change the world. It happens one person at a time, one day at a time, one idea planted at the right moment.
I won’t get more preachy than that. I’m looking at America from out in space – yes, I’m gazing down at the planet from a star, let’s say. I can see the USA, it covers a lot of ground, bordered by two beautiful oceans. It’s a country rich with freedom and education and is the bread basket of the world. It’s a place where anything is possible. I can see this country from a distance, and notice how brightly it shines in comparison to all others.
How long can we keep this beautiful light burning? It’s up to you, dear Americans. The children we are raising now will be our future leaders, future workforce. Tending this garden is imperative, our very existence depends upon us. We need to focus our attention like a laser beam on all that we have and prepare them to take charge of their lives, and more importantly, to be happy, healthy and wise.