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r is a stage of growth. And growth, in turn, is a state of dynamism and sometimes confusion.

In this state, mid career professiona

are faced with certain questions:

ing what I should be doing?

atural concern for midpros who have spent some years on a particular job and are not sure if they have progressed the way they s

my level of job satisfaction?

pros are very happy or unhappy with their jobs, they would know. However, often, midpros are unsure - they are neither happy n
n their current organisation and would like to be able to determine their level of job satisfaction, if possible.

lancing my work life well enough with my family life?

re highly focused on their career and work front, and tend to be spend more time at the workplace. Often, they might not spend q
their families, and their personal life might need attention. Or, in the process of trying to balance between their personal and prof
may want to know if they are balancing work and life well enough.

company provide me the opportunity to get where I want to? If not, which company will?

pros have clear career goals; others may not. In either case, they would want to determine whether their current organisations wo
eve their career goals. If not, they might consider joining another organisation that is more liklely to help them reach their career

d to change jobs, whom should I approach?

people who care for the unique capabilities and functional expertise that I have? Will they junk my CV or stay in touch with me?
e me to get a suitable placement? These concerns are natural when a midpro needs placement help and is not aware of the marke
e or she is likely to shape up in regard to them.

ement service providers make a proper match?

who look for a placement service, often wonder if there's anyone who matches their profile with that of the targeted role requirem
ny, before placing them.

cement service providers keep my resume and application confidential? Or is my boss or management likely to come to know o
me means?

most portals provide employers and consultants access to their databases, this concern of midpros is justified. Midpros want the
be sent only to a few relevant companies for jobs that fit them.

ell off am I financially?

lso judge their employability in terms of an adequate pay package. "Is my pay package sufficient to educate my children, lead a
comfortable life with my family and provide for my retired life? Is there a way to plan for this?" Such questions bother them. T
to settle commercial considerations, so as to be able to concentrate on their job and give their best to it.

uipped to get where I want to get? If not, what should I do?

pros seek a career move either within their current organisation or outside it, they want to rate their existing capabilities and func
with the role requirements needed for the job aimed for. Along with their personal aspirations and professional preferences.

ieve my goals, is my knowledge and qualifications sufficient? Is there anything else I should do to equip myself?

ealise the need to upgrade themselves constantly throughout their careers to stay on course to achieving their ambitions.

width and depth of my experience sufficient?

ank on their previous experience to get better opportunities, and want to gauge whether they are ready for the move upwards.

e a way I can plan my career to get where I want to get?

os need to ask this question, and find an answer to it, as early in their respective careers as possible -- how well their career paths
g. Whether they achieve their professional potential rests on this crucial consideration.

en's Work and Life Satisfaction in Relation to Career Adjustment


t of Psychology, University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-4301

ure on women's satisfaction and career adjustment encompasses a broad range of women's career experiences subsequent to entry
n. The experiences most commonly investigated in relation to satisfaction include satisfaction in relation to work experiences and
tics, satisfaction in relation to managing multiple roles, and satisfaction in relation to occupational transitions. Conclusions from
lude the need to use multidimensional assessments of satisfaction and to use more qualitative assessment strategies as they may b
o non-normative events than are standard quantitative approaches.


halfway stage of career: the middle stage of a career, when somebody is established but has many
more working years remaining


of halfway stage of a career: relating to or taking place during the middle stage of a career



halfway into a career: at or during the middle stage of a

act For the last two decades, professional women have entered the workforce at an unpreced
espite their labor force participation rates, numerous studies reveal that professional women f
yping, struggle with bias in performance appraisal, promotion, and salary, and are confronted
work/life tradeoffs as they climb the corporate ladder. Yet, relatively little is known about how
d professional women are with their careers, particularly as they move beyond entry level into
eer. What are the critical factors that explain women's midcareer satisfaction? What factors exp
ces among women in their midcareer satisfaction? Drawing on streams of research in gender a
ations, careers, sociology, and psychology, this paper begins to map out key demographic, car
organizational, job, and stress factors proposed to explain professional women's midcareer
tion. Directions for future research are highlighted.


– This paper aims to explore how mid-career professional mothers perceive themselves in relation to their work and
w they experience these roles, how they merge their work, family and individual self, and what meaning they make of

methodology/approach – The study used in-depth qualitative interviews with 18 participants aged between 37 and 5
dependent child under the age of 18, in dual-earning/career households.

– The study reports that a complex relationship of work-related dynamics and personal factors shaped the meaning
men amid competing priorities of work, family and individual lives. Organisation and co-ordination of multiple activitie
om various sources was fundamental to finding balance. A deep sense of motherhood was evident in that their child
ber one priority but career was of high importance as they sought stimulation, challenges, achievement and enrichm
k. Now, in mid-career transition, the respondents seek more self-care time in an effort to find new meaning in the wor

h limitations/implications – The study raises important issues for the management of professional working mothers
ns of the study for individuals and organisations are set out.

ty/value – This paper makes contributions to work-life integration and career theory. It provides one of the first empir
n work-life integration in Ireland using the construct of meaningful work and secondly builds on the kaleidoscope care


Kari Li

r stage approach is one way to look at career development. The way in which a researcher approaches the issue of career
based on Levinson’s life stage development model (Levinson 1986). According to this model, people grow through speci
by transition periods. At each stage a new and crucial activity and psychological adjustment may be completed (Ornstein,
989). In this way, defined career stages can be, and usually are, based on chronological age. The age ranges assigned for e
d considerably between empirical studies, but usually the early career stage is considered to range from the ages of 20 to 34
r from 35 to 50 years and the late career from 50 to 65 years.

to Super’s career development model (Super 1957; Ornstein, Cron and Slocum 1989) the four career stages are base
y different psychological task of each stage. They can be based either on age or on organizational, positional or profession
people can recycle several times through these stages in their work career. For example, according to the Career Concerns
m, the actual career stage can be defined at an individual or group level. This instrument assesses an individual’s awarene
with various tasks of career development (Super, Zelkowitz and Thompson 1981). When tenure measures are used, the first
as a trial period. The establishment period from two to ten years means career advancement and growth. After ten years c
ce period, which means holding on to the accomplishments achieved. The decline stage implies the development of one’s s
ntly of one’s career.

he theoretical bases of the definition of the career stages and the sorts of measure used in practice differ from one study to an
hat the results concerning the health- and job-relatedness of career development vary, too.

age as a Moderator of Work-Related Health and Well-Being

es of career stage as a moderator between job characteristics and the health or well-being of employees deal with orga
nt and its relation to job satisfaction or to behavioural outcomes such as performance, turnover and absenteeism (Cohen 1
p between job characteristics and strain has also been studied. The moderating effect of career stage means statistically
orrelation between measures of job characteristics and well-being varies from one career stage to another.

mitment usually increases from early career stages to later stages, although among salaried male professionals, job involve
e lowest in the middle stage. In the early career stage, employees had a stronger need to leave the organization and to be
nd McElroy 1987). Among hospital staff, nurses’ measures of well-being were most strongly associated with career and
onal commitment (i.e., emotional attachment to the organization). Continuance commitment (this is a function of perceived n
s and degree of sacrifice) and normative commitment (loyalty to organization) increased with career stage (Reilly and Orsak 19

alysis was carried out of 41 samples dealing with the relationship between organizational commitment and outcomes indica
e samples were divided into different career stage groups according to two measures of career stage: age and tenure. Age as
cator significantly affected turnover and turnover intentions, while organizational tenure was related to job performance and abs
nizational commitment was related to high turnover, especially in the early career stage, whereas low organizational commit
high absenteeism and low job performance in the late career stage (Cohen 1991).

onship between work attitudes, for instance job satisfaction and work behaviour, has been found to be moderated by career s
ble degree (e.g., Stumpf and Rabinowitz 1981). Among employees of public agencies, career stage measured with ref
onal tenure was found to moderate the relationship between job satisfaction and job performance. Their relation was strongest
ge. This was supported also in a study among sales personnel. Among academic teachers, the relationship between satisfa
ce was found to be negative during the first two years of tenure.

es of career stage have dealt with men. Even many early studies in the 1970s, in which the sex of the respondents was not re
t that most of the subjects were men. Ornstein and Lynn (1990) tested how the career stage models of Levinson and Super
s in the career attitudes and intentions among professional women. The results suggest that career stages based on age were
onal commitment, intention to leave the organization and a desire for promotion. These findings were, in general, similar to
ong men (Ornstein, Cron and Slocum 1989). However, no support was derived for the predictive value of career stages as def
cal basis.

stress have generally either ignored age, and consequently career stage, in their study designs or treated it as a confounding f
its effects. Hurrell, McLaney and Murphy (1990) contrasted the effects of stress in mid-career to its effects in early and late ca
basis for their grouping of US postal workers. Perceived ill health was not related to job stressors in mid-career, but work pres
ation of skills predicted it in early and late career. Work pressure was related also to somatic complaints in the early and la
derutilization of abilities was more strongly related to job satisfaction and somatic complaints among mid-career workers. Soci
influence on mental health than physical health, and this effect is more pronounced in mid-career than in early or late caree
he data were taken from a cross sectional study, the authors mention that cohort explanation of the results might also be
cLaney and Murphy 1990).

lt male and female workers were grouped according to age, the older workers more frequently reported overload and respon
at work, whereas the younger workers cited insufficiency (e.g., not challenging work), boundary-spanning roles and physical en
(Osipow, Doty and Spokane 1985). The older workers reported fewer of all kinds of strain symptoms: one reason for this ma
ple used more rational-cognitive, self-care and recreational coping skills, evidently learned during their careers, but selecti
symptoms during one’s career may also explain these differences. Alternatively it might reflect some self-selection, when peo
tress them excessively over time.

nnish and US male managers, the relationship between job demands and control on the one hand, and psychosomatic sympto
found in the studies to vary according to career stage (defined on the basis of age) (Hurrell and Lindstrцm 1992, Lindstrцm a
ong US managers, job demands and control had a significant effect on symptom reporting in the middle career stage, but
late stage, while among Finnish managers, the long weekly working hours and low job control increased stress symptoms in
ge, but not in the later stages. Differences between the two groups might be due to the differences in the two samples stu
anagers, being in the construction trades, had high workloads already in their early career stage, whereas US managers-th
or workers - had the highest workloads in their middle career stage.

p the results of research on the moderating effects of career stage: early career stage means low organizational commitment
s well as job stressors related to perceived ill health and somatic complaints. In mid-career the results are conflicting: some
n and performance are positively related, sometimes negatively. In mid-career, job demands and low control are related to
reporting among some occupational groups. In late career, organizational commitment is correlated to low absenteeism
ce. Findings on relations between job stressors and strain are inconsistent for the late career stage. There are some indica
tive coping decreases work-related strain symptoms in late career.

nterventions to help people to cope better with the specific demands of each career stage would be beneficial. Vocational coun
stage of one’s work life would be especially useful. Interventions for minimizing the negative impact of career plateauing are s
his can be either a time of frustration or an opportunity to face new challenges or to reappraise one’s life goals (Weiner, R
92). Results of age-based health examinations in occupational health services have shown that job-related problems lowerin
dually increase and qualitatively change with age. In early and mid-career they are related to coping with work overload, b
d late career they are gradually accompanied by declining psychological condition and physical health, facts that indicate the im
stitutional intervention at an individual level (Lindstrцm, Kaihilahti and Torstila 1988). Both in research and in practical inte
nd turnover pattern should be taken into account, as well as the role played by one’s occupation (and situation within that occu
er development.
scovering Your Career Life Cycle
early 1990's will be characterized by history as the birthdate of what Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich calls the "anxiety class.
anxiety class live lives of economic and vocational uncertainty and instability created by a highly competitive and rapidly evolvi
marketplace which depreciates the job security of every worker who is not growing and changing in response to market forces. E
from the entry level trainee to the occupant of the presidential suite is vulnerable.

The rise of the anxiety class may mark the end of an era where vocational self-expression was seen to be something of a right or
legitimate expectation. Bob Reich would the be first person to argue that it does not have to be so. Vocational self-expression an
forces are not mutually exclusive. In fact many analysts say we are in what they call a "post-job environment" and I would go fu
call it a post-career environment where your acquisition of new skills and your educational flexibility must be rooted in your evo
vocational self-understanding rather than a passive submission to your "right career."

The old career structure which emphasized commitment to one career for life was based on routine production, economies of sca
structural stability. That structure stressed job security and favored a static long-term commitment to your Right Career. You fou
career track, I would call it a career rut, and stayed in place. Workers trapped in the early stages of their career lifecycle still seek
security in an environment in which there is no longer any job security for anybody.

The new career structure is one where individuals are active agents in their own career development. The career process is one w
insists that we each construct self-images such as vocational identity that influence our response to the environment. This identit
vocational self-understanding is developmental in nature, that is, it changes over time in somewhat regular patterns we all share
rooted in intrinsic motives (e.g., nurturance, curiosity, achievement) that help guide our career choice and

My own life work within career counseling has been to use testing to examine inner originating motives that define the framewo
work and play. I think that we must all address work and personality from the perspective of intrinsic satisfaction, a view of voca
identity that focuses on our unique contribution to whatever organization or work we do. This identity is grounded in being a res
self, choosing which skills, knowledge, and abilities we want to assemble into a vocational self-understanding.

What we all need to be seeking is employment security based on life-long learning of new skills consistent with our career motiv
We also need to develop job search expertise like networking skills which will help us move relatively easily from job to job. Th
new competencies in the boundaryless career are know-why, know-how, know-whom. The combination of skills, evolving self
understanding, and renewal of our vocational competency permit us to maneuver in the new economy. Our job-relevant skill set,
constraints, and our network of contacts interact with structural characteristics such as vacancy-driven opportunity boundaries, e
factors, our social container, to create careers.

The new work environment asks each of us to devlop skills which permit self-management and vendor-orientation and acting as
have an ownership stake in the business at hand. Networking, learning, and enterprise are the new critical career success skills.

In this new environment, every individual is in the business of being herself: her competencies and commitments, her knowledge
organization's product and work, her experience at coordinating her work with that of others inside and outside the organization,
finally her ability to motivate herself to do what needs to be done. This new environment is the very picture of freedom yet many
view freedom as synonymous with insecurity. Vocational fear and learned helplessness can and do paralyze the worker at the ve
moment she needs all her self-consciousness in order to compete effectively. When I entered the field, career counseling was bas
assumptions that the college-to-work transitions was fundamental and virtually irreversible for career development and that midc
interventions were supplementary. That is no longer true.

This lecture is about the developmental patterns underlying the resistance of many workers to growing and responding to the new
demands of 21st century capitalism where the web has replaced the ladder as the dominant career metaphor.

The shift in focus from vocational self-expression to vocational competition is palpable to many in my profession. The focus of c
development advising is, in my own experience and as reported by my colleagues, shifting from basic issues of vocational identi
advice on acquiring an edge in skills or education or opportunity. This would not be troubling to me if the strategic issues of voc
self-concept were adequately resolved before moving into purely tactical career planning about how to acquire the qualifications
wants. Worries about job vulnerability and how to guard against it dominate career planning discussions which not long ago focu
shaping the vocational identity which was consistent with your deepest, wisest self.

Those developmentally vital discussions of self-expression in employment are now routinely jettisoned for recipes on how to pay
educational loans, hide your performance deficits, and insulate yourself against job loss. The latter are not unimportant questions
are being asked too soon and too often thereby putting the cart before the horse.

Sixties radicals pointed an accusing finger at their parents and chanted, "You are what you do." In part they took their cue from a
group of young career counselors who advised: "Do what you are." A generation which rejected the notion that your identity is d
your work yearned for the opportunity to allow their own unique vocational self-understanding to define their vocation, and the b
years of the 1980s complied with their wishes offering a diverse and rich base of employment opportunities. That generation is n
shocked to look around and see increasing numbers of its members out of a job or unhappily employed in jobs they dare not leav

The sharp edges of a market economy outline a Procrustean bed for many workers. For instance, the failure of 1994 health care r
has robbed workers of additional mobility. Surveys suggest that 10 percent to 30 percent of workers are now reluctant to change
because of fear of losing health coverage due to preexisting conditions. Reform that guarantees every person continued health ca
free workers to seek better jobs - and not wait until the bitter end when their employer downsizes them out of a job or simply clo

The nightmare ending the dream of having a major say in defining our vocation is the same vocational vulnerability that s isolati
workers from each other and forcing people to hold their pose as a productive loyal member of a work tem missing the essential
ingredient of any team: mutual trust. For many college seniors and recent graduates, the fear of making a mistake in one's career
almost at the paralysis stage. The older worker is also living with the fear that her job will be gone next week and age discrimina
keep her from finding anything in the same pay range. As one woman executive said to me, "career satisfaction doesn't pay my k

In the midst of these tectonic shifts in power, in locus of control over career development, it is helpful to return to some importan
largely undervalued work done in the 1970's by William Perry and Lee Knefelkamp and their many colleagues. These researcher
Harvard and the University of Maryland synthesized a nine-stage psychosocial model of career development showing us the jour
quest we each go through as we seek to experience ourselves as powerful and hopeful, as able to build a better vocational future
ourselves and others. I have added to their original insights my own experience of 25 years in the career counseling field as a pra
not as a researcher. The resulting model speaks clearly to the fear and hysteria which is becoming more and more the daily bread
workers in these last years of the 20th century.

Stage One: Absolute Reliance on External Authority

In Stage One, we make two big assumptions: there is a Right Career for us and there is an Authority who will tell us what the Ri
Career is. The Authority looks at us and then looks into the celestial Platonic sphere of ideal careers and chooses the Right Caree
In intellectual development this is analogous to the teacher looking at student tests, then looking up into the sphere of Truth and
the answers Right or Wrong. There is no gray scale here - this is the realm of Absolute Reliance on Absolute Authority for the se
of the absolutely Right Career.

The locus of control in finding that career and in growing our lives remains external and it will continue to be external until Stag
As long as we are comfortable with the Stage One assumptions, nothing happens. We will not leave where we are unless we com
conclusions that what we are leaving is bad and there is hope of something better. In the same way that battered women need a s
shelter in which to build hope and experience freedom, we need to see that we can have a better future only when we move beyo
current terrors in the workplace. What faces each of us as workers is our individual need to innovate continually our capacity to

The big question in Stage One is whether we shall act at all. In addition to fear, laziness and complacency are major enemies. W
incremental adjustments to intolerable situations. It is safe and easy to let others define our lives for us. We are not culpable for m
We are not responsible for how we are to use our gifts or even defining what those gifts are. Most of the difficult trials of career-
making are easily avoided if others make our decisions for us.

We need to be clear that vocational growth is largely a pain driven process. That is to say, the only exit point from any stage is a
-- unless we exhaust the illusions of a stage we are content to dwell in their grasp. If there is nothing to create cognitive discomfo
life at Stage One, the person simply will not grow.

The source of cognitive discomfort in Stage One, the thing that we discover about life in Stage One is the reality that careers do
follow static polarized definitions. They are dynamic human events and for most people there are multiple career alternatives and
person must make choices and set priorities based on an assessment of skills, interests, values, capabilities, and opportunities. Th
does not become fully clear until Stage Seven but the outlines are clear enough in Stage One to get us moving into our own futur

For adults who somehow managed to survive into adulthood with Stage One assumptions in place, there are fewer and fewer em
willing to provide the kind of security and career development structure that people at this stage feel is necessary. Most compani
you to be an entrepreneur in managing your own career development. They want adaptable specialists who can move quickly fro
area to another as companies try to respond to rapid changes in the economy and in market demands. The information explosion
evaporated inflexible expertise.

These realities are hard for us to grasp if we are in the grips of linear hierarchical dualistic thinking, and that is exactly the kind o
thinking that characterizes the first two stages or perhaps three stages of this model. Psychologists are learning that babies seem
wired to imitate adults. In Stage One we want to imitate the adult doctor rather than be the adult doctor. We apprehend only the e
socially defined characteristics that tell us we are a "manager." If in fact we become a manager, we are going to be stiff, wooden
insecure, fragile. We become the decision-maker so frightened to ask a question that we risk incorrect decisions (which will cost
job security) rather than risk our shallow professional identity. Stage One worries about risking exposure as incompetent at playi
role are multiplied a hundredfold by the fear of job loss.

Stage Two: Awareness of the Possibility of a "Wrong" Decision

The key characteristics of Stages One and Two have to do with our inability to escape the tyranny, often benign tyranny of other
especially our parents, spouses, significant others, mentors, even professional helpers whom we see as the absolute Authority wh
identify for us the Right Career. Obviously if we are in the grips of the authorities in our lives, for instance, our parents or our pa
voices echoing down the distant corridors of memory, we are not in charge of our own lives. Stage Two embraces the possibility
even with the aid of the absolute Authority, a mistake can be made.

I have found that it is counterproductive to tell Stage One or Stage Two persons that they have to make a career choice. It is like
the sky is green. When we are in Stages One and Two, we have a perspective on life, a definition of truth which says the externa
Authority in our life will define the correct career choice for us. We cannot do that for ourselves. This is not the place to tell peo
denial of pain is to hold on to that pain, however true that is. Rather we want here to begin to build trust in a process. A process o
choice rooted in understanding our past, ourselves, our abilities and motivators. A process which begins to explore and clarify th
of our genetic programming, our social situation, our complex self and all the baggage it carries.

The later stages of growth teach us that reality is obscured by needs and desires of our genetic programming. In a sense we have
beyond our genes to be truly ourselves. Evolutionary biologists, like E.O. Wilson make it clear that as far as the genes are conce
and I are only a vehicle for their own survival, reproduction and further dissemination. Our genes are essentially indifferent to us
have to raise our consciousness of their influence if we are not to be simply their slaves. Genetic determination of behavior is too
a view of the power of genetic programming. Knowing the genetic sources of our impulses, habits, predispositions, motives, bias
prerequisite of our freedom. We are not the compulsory victims of our genetic influences despite what the Bell Shaped Curve wo

We also are not powerless victims of our culture, our social container. We can be counter-cultural in that we must learn to questi
socialization we have received. The saddest example I can think of to describe the disillusionment and betrayal that is often felt a
ejected from Eden designed and built by others, were the newly minted but jobless Ph.D.s and assistant professors denied tenure
seen over the past 25 years who were socialized to teaching careers and then told that career did not exist anymore. Unfortunatel
now adding to that number a whole generation of middle-level managers and engineers facing roughly the same obsolescence.

Most people today have experienced the disillusionment of Stage Two because parents or other relatives have been laid off or do
out of a job and gone through subsequent agonizing reassessment.

In Stage Two, whatever shatters our worldview is telling us that wrong choices are a possibility. Career counselors do not know
cards, aptitude tests, horoscopes, IQs, the size and shape of our skull or our hands or our feet cannot tell us what to do. We have
choose, to risk, to invent our own future. We are involved in a project no smaller than creating our selves, living our lives accord
rules and commitments we make and accept for ourselves. We are not perpetually submitted to genes, to society, to selfish pleas
pain. This is hard to accept and some people turn off the path here by saying that work is a curse, that you go to work for financi
social reasons. In Stage Two we mistakenly perceive that our work is not, nor can it ever be, an expression of our selves. Unfortu
the economy is reinforcing Stage Two perceptions of reality and this often makes further growth difficult.

When I say that movement from Stage Two often arises from the broken pieces of a shattered worldview, I do not mean to sound
about that. The breaking of our way of seeing things inflicts pain. At times we are in so much pain that we decide life is too hard
want to end life sometimes literally but more often figuratively by stopping our growth.

Stage Three: Substitution of Process as Authority

As one deals with the anger and disillusionment aroused by the discovery that career development is not as simple as one though
a crisis in identity. Is identity defined by external or internal means? Here we begin to shift our faith from the belief that one Aut
exists to belief in the
right decision making process which in turn will yield the Right Career. The Authority is now the process. The right process assi
followed will yield the Right Career. This parallels a stage in our intellectual development where we believe that if we do all the
homework we will learn and more important, to us in this stage, we will get an A, or at least a B+.

What Characterizes Stage Three is the continuing allegiance to the concept that one Right Career exists for me. I have moved be
thinking an individual can tell me the Right Career, but I have not moved beyond thinking that there is, in fact, only on Right Ca
choice I can make. If I am to become my destiny, that is an active partner in the construction of the future, I have to see my pote
beyond one limited static definition of self in the world, a definition mediated by one Authority. From this point
forward in this passage of development, the authority becomes something like a primary care physician -- our personal guide thr
healthcare mazeway. We need the guide who helps us with self-assessment, skills identification, and what I call mazeway inform
-trends, what is available, job search advice.

I think that moving out of Stage Three has been made more difficult because the society has shoved pre-professional career sequ
down into earlier and earlier stages of education. There was a cartoon in a recent New Yorker showing mother and child sitting a
desk of the principal of a preschool.
The principal says: Yes, here at Dearborn we are always sensitive to those little signs that whisper "law" or "medicine." You can
on the track of the Right Career too soon! By pushing the preprofessional track down into at least the middle-school, the chances
mistake and everyone's panicky concern about some stumble or faltering soon are communicated to the child. This forces us to f
right process so we do not make any mistakes.

Let's review the players at this point. The person is still not involved as an activist in her own development. She is aware of her r
to the extent that she must follow the process, no one can do that for her. The good news is that she is at least on the yellow brick
The authority is now a process and not a person. Right Career as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is still fully empowere
although weakening as we near stage four.

Stage Four: Awareness of Multiple "Good" Decisions

In stage Four, we begin to have inklings that multiple Right Careers, multiple good decisions, might exist and there is a need to s
priorities for all the legitimate alternatives. The early stages have loosened the control of external Authority and enabled the mov
one Right Career - the abandonment of the constructs Authority and Right Career now necessitates a decision maker.

One of the discoveries of Stage Four is that the person might be involved in the process of her own career development. This see
prompted in part by an awareness of theatricality, of playing roles for others and never asking the question - where am I, who am
one woman said, "I am a warrior at the office and I come home and I am still a warrior. I don't know who I am really." One of th
discoveries of Stage Four is that is that if we are willing to be a victim, there are our fears, our social conditioning and plenty of
who are willing to exploit and oppress us.

In Stage Four we begin to sense that we may be living on the reflections of ourselves in the eyes of others. Drowning our sinceri
integrity in the applause of others, applause for performing our role, for keeping our poses. One person said she felt like the orga
grinder's monkey dancing for coins and the praise of her owner - craving praise insatiably. Highly successful women professiona
lamented to me that they are still struggling for acceptance, praise, visibility, membership in this profession.

The need for priorities creates the foundation for the first big cognitive flip, the first big reorganization of the pattern of our perc
who will author the list of priorities -me or the authorities I rely on in my life? Who is in control of my mind? Who is exploiting
because of my mimicry of my stereotype of a career, my lack of awareness that I am plagiarizing a life? Recent research shows t
proteges influenced the amounts of mentoring they received by initiating relationships with mentors. She who waits to be mento
lost. Success of the mentoring relationship was influenced by one's internal locus of control, high self-monitoring, and high emo
stability. In other words, being a real self enhanced initiation into the status of a colleague.

It is very important that we understand the concept of cognitive flip. When you look at an Escher drawing and think about what
your mind is trying to figure out if the stairs go up or down, if they originate here or end there. Your experience in looking at any
ground illusion is that your mind is organizing the perceptions that you have of that drawing. What you think you see changes fr
minute to minute yet the data field remains constant. What is changing is the way your mind is organizing the data.

T.S. Eliot in The Four Quartets said that "We shall not cease from exploration /And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arriv
we started/And know the place for the first time."

A cognitive flip is the seeing of some event we have seen before but seeing it new, seeing it differently, seeing it for the fist time
perceptual psychology, researchers are always dreaming up new figure-ground pictures where if you look at the picture one way
one thing and if you look at it another way you see something different. At times you almost sense a flip in your perception - you
image then another. Your mind is taking the same data set and making sense of it in two different ways and you can almost feel
perception flipping back and forth between the alternatives. In the same way that you can almost see your mind organizing and m
sense of your perceptions when looking at an image, you can look back on your life story and see the ways your vocational self-
also flowing, growing, changing.

Multiplicity is sinister and suffocating for some at this stage. The far that the fight for identity is too ghastly happens to almost e
at Stage Six but a few begin in Stage Four to feel the oppression of freedom. There are too many options. Paradoxically the hum
is constructed so that when we are ostensibly most free, when we can do anything we want to, it is in that moment we are often t
able to act. For instance, if a person has in my grandmother's phrase "independent income" and does not have to submit to the ex
demand to earn a living, that does not make career-decision making any easier, perhaps only more difficult. We often want to or
environment to prevent entropy. The certainties of fascism are always attractive to some for that reason. Psychologists teach us t
human attention is most focused and thinking is easiest in situations providing narrow boundaries and clear rules. Playing the su
game at work offers just that framework for action.

Stage Five: Emergence of Self as Decision-Maker

Stage five is defined by your experience of the first big cognitive flip - the locus of control moves from outside of each of us: we
an internal sense of self as the decision maker and the person responsible for the choices of life. We have finally worked free of
concepts Authority and Right Career. We are the Authority and we have options.

In cognitive development this is the most important act in the drama of development. Here we experience the reality that vocatio
identity is determined internally - using a kind of moral consciousness based on our decision and values clarification - and to a m
lesser extent shaped externally by socially -defined roles into which we are forced but which are subject to our wills to a large de

We can choose the kind of parent or doctor or lawyer or truck drive or teacher or researcher or craftsperson we want to be. We c
our earlier self as a person inside a row of mirrors with endless reflections and counter-reflections. Trying to be what we should
defined by others, trying to please or placate other by making the right vocational choice.

Here in Stage Five we have finally accepted that we are in charge, this is our show, we have awakened to ourselves. This is an
exhilarating, exploring, doing phase which begins with the recognition of multiple possibilities and ends with the need to create
order and clarification. We need to be clear about what needs to be done and we need to clear information and feedback about ho
we are doing it.

Stage Six: Awareness of the Chaos of Free Choice

Pride goeth before the fall or so they say in Stage Six. All the alternatives now become a burden. In the beginning of Stage Five
and diversity of alternatives was freeing and exhilarating but after a time they become chaotic and we enter the wasteland of Stag
This follows somewhat the emotional pattern post divorce: first the anger and pain of betrayal and eviction, then the exhilaration
freedom, then the burden of dating and the agony of singles bars, etc. ect. One client said she felt like she was a figure in a painti
Hieronomous Bosch: so tortured that she wondered why she had acknowledged her identity and individuality becoming intoxica
life, with expressing herself vocationally. Another said he was shot dead in the duel between illusion and reality. That duel is oft
more deadly given the barriers that exist between what we have and what we want. The discrepancy between what I desire and w
actually happening creates an inner tension. How I resolve that tension is the basic barometer of my maturity and my mental hea

High ambitions produce a certain amount of discontent. We learn that the easiest way to decrease the frequency of negative thou
selectively moderate our expectations. On some days, that can mean we think about quitting on our hopes for a better future. We
that there are limits created by competition, demand, need, non-vocational responsibilities we have undertaken - family, mortgag
and a cat. We learn about luck and accident and illness. We learn that in most jobs we have to secure influence about authority. W
that colleagues often act out of base and selfish motives. We learn that some people are predatory - vocationally, sexually, emoti
We learn that some people get bored and like to create trouble just to see what will happen regardless of the cost to us and our
productivity. We learn that we must continue to grow in our abilities and that growth usually arises from meeting new challenge
challenges and crises which promote growth are often painful.

One of the great problems in Stage Six has troubled artists and social scientists from Dostoevsky to Carol Gilligan - we often pre
illusion to reality even though the illusions lead to tragic results. Our materialist society fosters all sorts of pleasant dreams that s
illusion for reality - look at the millions who started smoking cigarettes because a phenomenally successful advertising campaign
managed to create a subconscious link between smoking and self-confidence.

Stage Six is the stage where some people turn off their path to languish in self-deception, in vocational entropy, in working only
our habits and addictions, working only to finance our acquisition and maintenance of servo-mechanisms and/or our search for h
exhilaration experience. The one with the most toys at the end of the game wins. In so doing we permit our lives and our work to
channeled away by those who would drain our lives, or self-conscious intentionality, to meet their own interests. In an era of red
and loss, of sparse opportunity, the drive to generate security and invulnerability becomes almost manic. We cannot trade authen
integrity for security. That is a core insight from almost every human religion.

We turn off the path of growth we deny that we are a creative construction where we ourselves are the principal architects and la
We are, as selves, never complete and finished. It is who you will be in the future that defines who you are now.

Stage Seven: Beginnings of Integration of Self and Career Role

In Stage Seven we encounter the second cognitive flip-the end of the polarized career identity. The idea of choosing a traditional
defined role is abandoned in favor of seeing career as a form of self expression. In abandoning the idea of Right Career we often
to the idea of multiple Right Careers that enjoy a separate, distinct existence unconnected to us. Here the distinction between illu
reality gets smoky - even smokier than Stage Six but for different reasons. Can you disconnect the construct doctor from the phy
referent of all the doctors in the world? I do mean play the games of logical positivism. Stage Seven flips our cognition of our se
the role we play.

In Stage Seven we now realize we define the role. We are not choosing a polarized thing, we are looking at careers as events wit
regularities that are socially defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Title but within those regularities are enormous variations
freedoms. We look at specific career opportunities as being expressions of our vocational self-understanding. The current econom
again supporting a suppression of growth by giving the impression that to hold on to your job you have to play your role, keep y
as defined by the people with the power to fire you. Students of success skills have long confirmed the value of role playing with
and confirm the value of being yourself on the job. Investing yourself in work that you genuinely enjoy gives you an edge over
the smooth sycophant survivor.

We are responsible for our vocational actions which means we can control ourselves, and it means we can know ourselves, our t
and feelings. We are always living in light of our potential - we can be more, we will be more than we are now! It also means we
we do not derive identity from career role or institutional affiliation. Rather it is the reverse, we use career as an expression of ou

At Stage Seven we discover the core of our vocational freedom: we are more than what we do. What we do is but a small portion
we are. Vocation transcends job sequences and career ladders, which are usually illusory devices created by clever compensation
to give us at least the sensation of movement upward through the organization.

In the struggles of Stage Seven, we discover the courage of our personality - we exit the realm of perpetual transformations to be
build real commitment to our particular expressions of our vocational skills. Mysteries are always emerging in lives and need to
unraveled. Why did this happen? Why didn't this happen? But the mysteries of Stage Sever are truly profound. Slowly we see th
we are and can be is part of not only our vocation but we stretch to see ourselves as part of everything that is. People who were a
the physically self-evident world now have doubts. We are always losing sight of ourselves and our accomplishments. We want
our notebook into the labyrinth to remind us who we are.

Many of the mid-career professionals I see at Radcliffe Career Services are asking question not about career change (although th
presenting issue); they are asking about career identity, who they are as a doctor or a lawyer or a manager.

The Stage -Seven caterpillar asks Alice in Wonderland? Who are YOU.

Stage Seven cognition requires that we gain some clarity about what we stand for, how we make meaning in our own unique exp
of our vocation. When we have become the doctor who has never journeyed beyond Stage One or Two we wake up one morning
that we have to perform these meaningless tasks for the rest of our lives. That wake-up call comes in our mid-career because tho
were never our choice - the Authority chose them for us - parent, spouse, advisor, whomever. The career and the self are not inte
above the level of sheer aptitude. Just because we can be a surgeon does not mean we should be a surgeon nor does it define the
surgeon we are. Career choice does not boil down to: "I did well on the MCAT, I wanted to help people and live well, my mothe
doctor who seemed happy enough." That was a great formula for mid-life Stage Six cynicism: Life sucks and then you die.

At Stage Seven we see the unfolding of life's adventure and begin to realize that life is constructed by us out of our own existent
commitments to values, to people, to the kind of self we would be in the world, to our part in the unfolding complexity of life, to
acquisition and exercise of certain skills consistent with all of the above. I was shocked that a whole generation of bankers, acco
government officials complacently chose to look the other way and allow the savings and loan crisis to occur. These are people w
not integrated self and career. Who were just doing the job as they were socialized to do it, or in this case, not to do it, not to fulf
fiduciary responsibility.
Stage Eight: Experiencing Commitment

At Stage Eight, and I think to even enter Stage Eight, the consequences of commitments must be experienced; therefore some
commitments had to have been made in Stage Seven. We learn that taking responsibility for the creation of the career means we
responsibility for undesired outcomes. We do not hide from them or repress them, we acknowledge them. We also begin to see t
powerlessness, loneliness, fear, pain, rejection are part of life - we change what we can and work around what we cannot change

For most of our intellectual history, humankind stored truth in myth, in song, in proverbs or cautionary tales, in legend. That is w
Joseph Campbell and his career advice to follow your bliss.

What happens at Stage Eight is the realization that following your bliss is not always blissful and we can come into doubts. I hav
who has made a major contribution to education in this country but that contribution is not always in her view and is not always
acknowledged by competitors who would like to exploit or oppress her by making her feel invisible - professionally dis-member
outsider at her own success. Another friend wrote a book promptly remaindered in the first year of publication and which was ju
the leading journal in her field as "not likely to receive any favorable review" from future experts in the field. That book went on
become one of the landmarks in the field, sadly after that person's death by suicide.

Following your bliss is not always blissful. Your professional identity can be challenged, defeated, crushed but in Stage Eight yo
that life becomes serene and enjoyable precisely when you have become detached from a professional identity defined by others
precisely when you have left selfish pleasure and personal success behind as self-defining goals. If you permit others to define y
professional identity, you are their slave.

Psychologists teach us that the fear of death derives from our becoming too closely identified with the individual self. That is, th
we are investing exclusively in differentiation of self without concern for integration with our family, our community, our world
more frightening it is to confront the dissolution of self. That is why so many religious traditions teach that you have to lose you
find yourself.

The professional self follows the same rules. The more we get invested in a particular definition of our self the easier it is for som
stick a pin in our balloon. A Stage Eight actress said that before she had a family of her own she was devastated every time she l
Having a family gave her something transcending herself as a source of stability and personal worth. If we have emancipated ou
from the control of others, the last enemy to conquer is our own self and its fear of nonexistence, invisibility, and inconsequentia

The treasury of human knowledge now includes the understanding that reality is created as we try to comprehend it. (itals dlk)
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, which describes the logical impossibility of determining simultaneously both the position and
velocity of a given atomic particle, was only the first tremor in what has become a devastating earthquake for physical science. A
noble laureate in chemistry said, "What ever we call reality, it is revealed to us only through an active construction in which we
participate." That is perhaps the great truth of Stage Eight. Careers are realities in which we actively participate - our careers hav
reality apart from our participation. To make things even darker, the definition of that participation and that career are largely inv
except with hindsight. Present success is usually only accessible from the future. The attributes, artifacts, and accessories of care
success are fictions. Only you can judge your success and only from the perspective of your own future integrity. You are doome
failure when you rely on others to judge your success. Focus on the intrinsic meaning of the task not the reward attached to succ
performance of the task.

In Stage Eight we learn that we must painstakingly match our preconceptions with actual, ongoing experience to begin separatin
from reality. Yes you heard that right, not reality from illusion - we did that at earlier stages. Here we are distilling truth from ex
from reality. And the truth we distill form our experience is what guides our expansion of self-created career roles. We learn to c
ourselves, our vocational power, our authenticity, our integrity, even, dare I say it, our sanctity.

Stage Nine: Expansion of Self-Created Roles

Now we build an awareness of seeking out the inevitable and cooperating with it. We have awareness of working with the direct
-learning the limits of our self-created roles, learning the value of cooperation with others, learning that our working is a form of
expression limited only by the demands of justice, harmony, mutuality. Our center is now outside the control of those administer
system of rewards and opportunities in which we must participate. We are not owned by our career. We stake out where we wan
contribute our unique constellation of skills and abilities and imagination and motivation and values. We truly focus on the task

We learn synchronicity (that is: we get what we need); we learn the magic of believing, going with the flow, the harmony of the
we are not life's victims but life's creators. We let go of the fears of the earlier stages - fear of making the wrong decision, fears o
trapped in the chaos of vocational indecision, fears not doing what we should do, fears of changing. We begin to love the self we
the self we want to give to the world. Our unique qualities are not a problem but part of our gift. It is only when we transcend ec
forces that we can plunge in fearlessly to create our vocation from the raw stuff of the marketplace.

To switch metaphors, we reach the top of the developmental mountain when we realize we have been in charge of our lives all th
we have been responsible without knowing consciously our responsibility. In the end, if we successfully navigate this journey, w
liberated from everything including our self. We are journeying into a better future, a future freed from determinism and fatalism
instincts, the weight of social tradition, the illusionary desires of the self, the oppression of being a wage slave. We are empower
create with others a future that is compassionate, in tune with the reality that transcends our genetic needs and socially defined w

Much of life is spent resolving paradoxes: taking control while letting go, getting ourselves out of our way (to use Gandhi's marv
insight), finding out-there the truth that is in-here. In our work, whatever work that may be, we are always moving toward our na
responsibility for creating the work we do - for modifying and adapting and redefining the standard forms of employment to our

Our role in life is to recognize our options and, when we cannot see options, to create them. We identify the places where growth
occur for ourselves and then we foster that growth toward a more comprehensive vision of who we are in the world.

A major problem at Stage Nine is that what is always has the edge on what might be. It is easier to settle for reality than truth. Th
doing, of accomplishing, of trying and achieving, is always within us and is very persistent in getting us to do things. It is accom
the joy of transcending our own ego boundaries to experience our own growth in being and becoming part of something greater
ourselves. When I say that I affirm the essential core of all mysticism - that the source of all meaning is a living presence within

This model of the growth process in career decision making is a model of the journey toward hope and life and vision. Taking th
does not exempt us from the realities of our endowment, the realities of accidents, failures, betrayals, illness, luck. It does not ex
from slipping on our doubts and falling from Stage Eight visions into Stage Six despond. But it does exempt us from the barriers
construct for ourselves - all the layers of fear that hold us back, all those voices saying to us that we cannot do what we believe i
saying we cannot do what we know is consistent with our deepest wisest self.

We sustain great losses resisting our growth. There are catastrophic costs attached to staying in one place developmentally. But i
important to understand that we are able to resist our own growth even though we do so at our own peril.