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When does a career end?

Updated: Nov 5, 2018

If your next role is not be as big in terms of scale, scope or stress, it doesn't mean your career has come to an end or "plateaued".

Things end and start again in the same place

Historically the illustrations drawn to represent career paths are climbing a mountain, ladder or steps. This was always how careers were sold to us. Progress in career terms meant higher, bigger , more responsibility more pay. Is that really the case anymore? or even the purpose of a 21st century career.

When your next role is smaller in size or scope it doesn't mean you have stopped growing and progressing.

Speaking to a client recently who has taken the positive decision to leave their current role without a clear plan of what they are going to do next, it got me thinking.


Often we see our careers like motorways with clearly defined markers along the way telling how far we have come, how close we are too our desired destination. We use language like 'fast lane' to describe speed of progress. This can come with a constant nagging concern of being caught in the slow lane and being overtaken or overlooked. With the ultimate reflection being one of three options. Yes I reached my destination; Never quite reached my potential, ran out of gas along the way; got thrown on the scrapheap! This perhaps melodramatic and hopefully somewhat historical view of a careers is used to make the point.


When making positive decisions to find a new role or a new challenge then choosing a "B" road or "building your own road" is a hugely positive options. It might not come with the same status, power or LTIPS but it can provide excitement, purpose, meaning or balance. The personal career journey as opposed to the vocational career comes with finding continual meaning rather than a defined destination. The Meaning Quotient is something that resonates with us at UNICUS, as self employed people we are the company directors as well as the office juniors; we are the strategists and make the tea; we are the profit and the loss! Having true meaning for what you do helps you build the immunity from the need for size and scale and ultimately our own ego. If our careers are linked to the identities that roles give us rather than the meaning, purpose or satisfaction it provides then we might feel we need to spend life in the outside lane close to the on-coming headlights. Alternatively we can slow down drive on a country lane and take in the view.


The volunteer in a charity shop goes to work for meaning. Do they have a career? It depends how you define career...



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