Why You Can Stop Worrying About Your Career

Time to read: 2:19.26 minutes
 At camp, being…well…campy.

At camp, being…well…campy.

This summer, while I was working at my children's summer camp, I offered pro-bono coaching to the staff. After 30-hours of early morning sessions with a group of 19-26-year-olds, I started to notice patterns. Then, when considering my MBA, private and corporate clients, I realized there is an arch to the career journey characterized by age and phase of life. Daily, I hear people worrying about their careers and life choices. My goal today is to reassure you whether this is your first rodeo or your one-hundredth.

(Note: I'm not a huge fan of reducing individual experience to a one-size-fits all label so know that as I share these observations with you, the boundaries are fuzzy, and professional and personal experiences are as unique as you are.)

Age 19 - mid to late 20s: Exploration. If you are in this age group, you are likely laying awake a night worrying that you don't know what you want to be or if you should marry the guy or dump him, or if you will ever be able to afford a house. These early years of career development are fraught with worry and doubt.

My message? Have fun! Explore! Try some stuff. Work at a ski resort. Deliver pizza in New Zealand. Apprentice yourself to that scientist in the woods. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age 25 - late 20s (or if you're like me, early 30s): Roots. If you are here, you are starting to wonder about settling down. Living in one place starts to seem more attractive than seasonal employment and traveling all the time. Not surprisingly, as your perspective shifts, you start to find potential life partners. You might be hungry to get a career started and work, work, work. This is a great age to be a consultant or to have a job with lots of travel. You might be worrying if you are ready for commitments and responsibility.

My message? Embrace the change in perspective. Put down those roots. Make choices. If you're chomping at the bit to work, then work. Nothing is set in stone. You can always change direction. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age mid-30s to mid to late 40s: Complexity. Before this phase, you think you understand your priorities (career!). Then you have kids. Or your parents get sick. Or you get laid off. Or something else interrupts your perfect plan. Life gets complex, and your priorities start to shift again. If you are in this phase, you are likely worrying if you have invested too many years in the wrong job or if you should stay home with your children or if you will ever get that promotion or if you should try for an overseas assignment or if you are saving enough for retirement.

My message? Get back in touch with your values. Learn to live with increasing uncertainty. Be intentional in your choices. Make choices. Don't just stumble along doing what you think you're supposed to. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age late 40s to late 50s or early 60s: Confidence. If this is you, you likely care a lot less what people think. You're clearer about your gifts and are using them in the world. If you are a career professional, you've developed a level of expertise - even if that expertise spans many different specific job descriptions (like me). You're getting wiser. And calmer. Some things may be shaken up or re-negotiated - divorce, kids getting older, getting reconnected to past hobbies and interests. You might worry if you even remember who you are anymore.

My message? Get close with your gifts. Don't be afraid to be brave about necessary life changes. Own what you love. Be who you are. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Mid to late 60s and 70s. Letting go. I rely on dear friends and mentors for anything I know about this phase. If you're here, your relationship to work as you've known it is shifting. You're excited about the prospect of well-earned freedom even as you worry about your identity and can't wait to purge your house. For some, the temptation to cling to a professional identity over-powers the potential expansion of possibilities making the transition to this powerful phase of life more difficult.

My message? Keep going! Have fun! Embrace the possibilities of a newly wide-open playing field. Invest your energy in the things that are most important to you.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Here's your challenge: Can you can find the point of this article?

Rebel love to you!

Christina

P.S. Do you have a friend who is fretting about one of these career phases? Share the love with them by forwarding this email. They can sign up to join us right here.