Entry, mastery and disengagement: Where are you in the career cycle?

Photo : Auremar/Shutterstock
Photo : Auremar/Shutterstock

Do you feel moody, apprehensive, unhappy? Are you wondering what to do with your life? You know that something’s missing, but you can’t put your finger on it.

My research on occupational change, described in “Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life,” suggest that growing adults experience cycles of discontent every five to ten years with the average cycle occurring every 7.5 years.

These periods of dissatisfaction may cause people to leave jobs or relationships, or move across the country. Make these periods work for you!

We continue to change and grow throughout life — psychologically, intellectually, and spiritually. Although we all have our own rhythms of change, we generally proceed through alternating developmental and transition periods during life.

Transitions are times for questioning who we are and where we want to go. During developmental periods we make commitments to and work toward desired goals.

Simultaneously, we also experience the career cycle of entry, mastery, and disengagement. During entry, we enthusiastically learn new tasks. In mastery, we’re competent, confident, and productive. If our job duties are no longer challenging, we become disinterested and lose enthusiasm, productivity, and confidence. Disengagement stages of career cycles tend to parallel transition stages of life cycles.

Growing individuals, who feel they’re no longer deriving desired work or lifestyle rewards, may change jobs, return to school, take time out, or other.

When Mark Bloomis was 30, a series of jolts including political hassles at work and serious illness forced him to reassess career and life goals. This resulted in the decision to establish his own business, Mark’s Work Wearhouse, a childhood dream.

Like Mark, our career development is intricately interrelated with our personality development and changes in other life components. Traumatic experiences such as job loss, illness, or death of a loved one often act as maturing experiences and precipitate reevaluation of personal qualities and lifestyle goals.

Newly divorced, Barbara a former architect, decided to study health care, at 50. Some adults stay with the same job and company, but create new challenges. Al, a staff development manager, always initiates new projects. Recently widowed, Eleanor started her virtual assistant business at 82.

We continue to grow and change. The world around us is also in flux. So why should our work lives be static? With an average life expectancy of 80-plus years for both men and women, it’s possible to continue creating new challenges in our current positions, return to school, establish a business, or take time out at 40, 65, or older, and still have years of happiness and productivity.

Are you experiencing a transition?

Answer yes or no:

  1. I’m often bored.
  2. I lack a sense of purpose.
  3. I’m not satisfied with the way things are in my life.
  4. I have a birthday within two or three years of 0.
  5. I’ve been doing quite a bit of self-assessment lately.
  6. I often think of quitting my job or taking early retirement.
  7. My job does not satisfy my needs.
  8. I can’t attain desired career goals in my current position.
  9. I’ve experienced one traumatic event in the past year.
  10. My lifestyle is unhealthy.

7 or more yes responses suggest you may be disengaged from work and in a transition stage of your life cycle. If you would have responded the same way two or more years ago, get a medical checkup. Job and life dissatisfaction can seriously affect health.

Take charge

Take advantage of the growth opportunities your transition provides. Reassess needs, values and goals, and make necessary modifications. You’ll become wiser, happier, and healthier.

Contemporary career development is a continuing quest to improve the fit between your career and your evolving personality. Establish your own rhythm of change. It’s never too late!

“Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life” and columns offer inspiration and tips for moving forward.

Dr. Carole Kanchier, career and personal growth expert, is author of the award-winning, best seller, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life (2014). A registered psychologist, career coach, speaker, and columnist with 30 years of expertise, Carole Kanchier practices in Calgary: www.questersdaretochange.com.