Career Path Checkpoints
There are certain points during your career that you will need to step back and re-exam where you are going and what you are looking for.
Just like seasons during the year, there are different seasons in your life. Life being as unpredictable as it is can sometimes catch you off guard and the goals you had set for yourself throughout your dream career path may not be working anymore. We are big fans of making a career journal where you can write you thoughts, wisdom learned from others and new goals with steps to take to achieve it. A running log of what you spend most of your life doing, working.
These are key points in life when re-evaluation is needed.
1. One to Three Years After College/High School
Sometimes you major just to major, other times you know your path. Either way, once the books are put away and it's time to live in the real world you have to figure out what the real world is to you. Does it mean moving away for a dream job? Taking an internship? Whatever you see your life in the short term won't be the long term because of "newborn college theory", something we completely just made up. We see "newborn college theory" as one to three years after college. Almost like a newborn out of the womb and the infamous 4th trimester moms go through. Yes, the baby is out, but the real life hasn't set in yet.
2. On Your 29th Birthday
You are five to seven years into your career, things may be going great, but there are somethings on the horizon that you need to prepare for. The first is kids (if you don't already have them), and if you want kids, if so how many, what is that going to look like in your mind? The second is the impossible glass ceiling if you are in the corporate world. Lastly, the third is your personal values, is your job aligned, is it still worth it? Be honest with yourself during this evaluation. The rest of your career depends on it.
3. Your 35th Birthday, Or The First Promotion You Were Passed Over For in Your 30s
We are not by any means saying this is it, but this is a good midway point in your career. You've had time to grow and make mistakes. Now it's time to get down to business. At this stage in your career, you've put the work in, and you know what it takes. Are you where you want to be? Have your morals, goals, or aspirations changed? This is a standard age that married women move toward a lower stress job or a stay-at-home role. Is that for you? What do you want (with no one else in the picture)?
4. The Prime Earning Age
When you hit 39 or so, you will be in the prime earning window of your career, and this window affects you long term. This is the time you need to check your surrounding (glass door or salary.com) to see if what you are earning is near the top point in your market. If not, it's time to evaluate what to do about it. Your income at this age is necessary because of the R-word, retirement. You may have a harder time after this to get to where you want to be, not impossible, but this is the time to figure it out.
5. Close to Feeling Done
That R word again, retirement. At some point in your career, there will be a switch that happens. You will start to feel complete in the sense of your career, and you may feel a pull to do other things with your talents besides corporate work. Your finances are sound; you feel that your time in the workplace is coming to an end. When this happens be honest with what a retirement would look like for you. Will you volunteer? Travel? Take on a little stress and non-existent pay job just to get out of the house? When you've put your time in, figure out what you want out of time moving forward.
No matter when you check in on yourself, know that it is okay to change your path. Life is made with zigs and zags, a straight line never happens. Being a successful corporate working woman one day to want to stay home and raise your family is okay. Working in a nonprofit only to realize you like the idea of working in a corporate setting is okay too. Because it is your path and you only need to please yourself.
Sound off - Do you check in with yourself? When and How? Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.