Change Is Inevitable. Here's How to Start Preparing Right Now.

Four important words: Work your next job.
Change Is Inevitable. Here's How to Start Preparing Right Now.
Image credit: Nigel Parry
Magazine Contributor
Editor in Chief
4 min read

This story appears in the June 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

One night this past April, Martellus and Michael Bennett were texting each other. If you follow the NFL, you know these brothers: They’re big and tough, with Super Bowl rings to prove it. But Martellus also spent the past few years making comic books and other entertainment for kids, and he recently retired to pursue that work full-time. Michael is still in the NFL, but he knows it won’t last forever. So over texts, Martellus was giving his brother advice on how to build a bridge out.

Related: 7 Ways To Grow Your Personal Brand in Less Than a Week

“Posting team photos on your [Instagram] is cool for likes but not for growing your brand outside of the game,” Martellus wrote in one message. “Use those things to get ’em there, but sprinkle in your awesomeness outside of football while you have their attention.”

I love this advice, and it isn’t just for pro athletes: While you’re working your current job, make sure to work your next job, too. There’s a version of this we all should be doing, regardless of our role. It doesn’t matter if you’re an employee on the clock or an entrepreneur who created your current job. You have the ability, right now, even if you aren’t aware of it, to prepare for whatever comes next. And something will come. Do not let that moment pass you by.

Today, in front of each of us, are two sets of opportunities. There’s the stuff we must do -- our daily tasks, what our bosses expect. Then there’s the stuff available to us only if we seek it out: the new things to learn, skills to develop and projects to launch. These new things may be available at our offices, or they may come in the form of a side hustle. Whatever the case, if we seek out those new things, we become more versatile. Our boundaries expand. Our market value goes up. If we don’t, we remain qualified only for the kind of job we’re already doing. We’re vulnerable to change.

Related: Thinking of a Career Pivot? Here's How to Be Ready to Change Direction.

I’ll give you a personal example. At a previous job of mine, I was hired to edit part of a magazine. But the company also had a video department, so I began hosting a weekly video series. It wasn’t part of my job; nobody needed me to do that. But I sought it out anyway, figuring it was a good skill to learn -- and hey, I thought, maybe my next job would be in TV! That never happened, but the skill did come in handy. When I was interviewing for the role of Entrepreneur editor in chief, my on-camera work was seen as an asset. The company knew I could ably represent it in public and host videos in our office.

And here’s the thing about working your next job: By being so endlessly curious, so open to improvement, you become more valuable at your current job, too. The restaurateur builds an app, becomes tech-savvy and reimagines how his customers order food. The corporate consultant builds her personal brand, learns social media and opens a new line of business. Today, I do this, too. I keynote conferences and make podcasts -- neither of which is required for my job, but they help promote Entrepreneur while I build skills that’ll be useful for years to come.

Related: The 4 Actions You Must Take to Find Your Opportunity

Now, with that in mind, let’s return to the just-retired Martellus Bennett. Last summer, he came by the Entrepreneur office so we could film a Facebook Live together. Martellus was still an active player then, and he knew it earned him attention. But he came here to talk about entrepreneurship. “If Walt Disney could build the Walt Disney Company, why can’t I?” he told me at one point. He was consciously putting himself in the position to do that -- to have fans see him in a very different way. Martellus was at my office working his next job.

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