The 4 different career stages can take you by surprise.

No one really talks about your career in terms of different phases, but as you mature into the workforce, those 4 different career stages become readily apparent.

Here they are so you can determine what stage you are in:

Getting started

When we first get started in our careers, we are trying to accomplish several things.

It’s all about mastering how to do a job, build your professional reputation, and figure things out in terms of where you want to go with your career.

But more importantly, it’s also all about proving yourself.

There’s a sense that no one trusts your skills, abilities, and knowledge, so it is a lot of work to get peers and bosses to take you seriously.

Once you have mastered that, then it’s time to move into the next of the 4 different career stages:

You’ve arrived

There’s no defined point in your career when you suddenly realize, “Hey, I can do this and people DO take me seriously!”

It’s actually a pretty startling career phase because we have been so focused on growing and building that it’s a wake-up moment to become aware that you’ve built a career, and now you are sitting in the middle of it!

This can be one of the most dangers of the 4 different career stages for one reason only: stagnation.

That’s why it is especially important to change your mindset from “can I do it?” to “how can I do it better?”

Time to start thinking about augmenting your skill sets to add new areas of expertise, and capitalize on the great work you’ve done but learn how to do it BETTER.

Once you’ve master this phase, then the next step of the 4 different career stages is:

Where else can I go?

Sometimes, we end up in careers by happenstance, accident, or by tracking.

But once we are in that field, and done what’s been needed to be done, we find out that maybe we are bored.

Now that you’ve mastered a career direction, perhaps there’s little to no challenge in our work and what we really crave is intellectual stimulation.

I experienced this myself… at one point, I was comfortably ensconced in a job that I absolutely knew inside and out, was making great pay, and yet I was bored out of my mind.

Daily tasks ground to mindless tedium.

That’s when I realized that I had enough skill sets to redirect myself into something new, and began a completely different career pathway.

I could have stayed in the old role, but needed a job that motivated me to get out of bed in the morning with the fresh perspective of learning something new.

That’s when I changed careers. Repeat the cycle!

But there’s one last step in the 4 different career stages:

Legacy phase

This is probably the most unexpected part of a career- when you have mastered what you wanted to master, achieved what you wanted to achieve, and are now left wondering, “Now what?”

Many careerists find themselves in this no-man’s-land staring down a final incomplete part of their career.

And the missing piece is their legacy.

This is when people are in the later stage of their career.

They can be much more self-directed in the types of work that they chose to do.

Plus, there are a lot more opportunities to give back.

Pssstt…. the secret is that this is the best part!

The legacy phase is when you can step in as a mentor leader and help coach others to excellence around you, provide insights to people struggling with where they want to go, and give back to organizations that help build others’ careers.

It is awesome and can be some of the most rewarding work in your career.

The final piece

But there is a separate phase I want to discuss too… and it’s the end phase.

I get a lot of questions from people late in their career who are now looking at retirement, and are at a loss as to how to move from an otherwise busy, productive, demanding, and engaging career to a sudden shift in life.

Many people thrive in working, and have merged their sense of self into their professional persona.

Once they retire, they don’t have that identity any longer, and find themselves adrift.

One key thing to consider is to mindfully plan how you are making this transition, and based on your skills and experience, and interest levels, transfer your focus onto philanthropic, community, or non-profit volunteer roles.

This can help smooth the transition to avoid an abrupt end to an otherwise stellar career dappled with accomplishments.

The best part of this phase? You are only as committed as you want to be, and what you do end up doing is entirely your choice.

You don’t HAVE to do it, but you are choosing to do it.

Keep in mind these 4 different career stages and use this to gauge where you are in your professional path!