We definitely need to update our thinking about retirement – I personally hate what the term has come to represent – but we also need to hit the refresh button about the word career. Career, I like to remind people, is not a noun; it’s a verb. It requires our continual attention and management over a lifetime.
I say this over and over because it’s true, and because most people actually do think their career is a noun, a thing they picked off a shelf of careers one day – and for that reason, it should work for them for the rest of their lives. And then they feel bad, as if they did something wrong, when it doesn’t work anymore. Should this really come as a surprise? Don’t we know that times change, we change, the marketplace changes, and – woops – the plot thickens?
Years ago, in preparation for a talk I was giving, curiosity led me, once again, to the dictionary for definitions of the word career. As I waded through the dense lines of small print, I was thrilled to discover there actually was a verb form of the word, albeit antiquated. To career, in the antiquated nautical sense, meant swift movement of a vessel through water. The example given was, The ship is careering (not careening, by the way) through the ocean with ease and speed; also, The ship was in full career.
Full career is the direction in which we should all be heading, and beyond that, to full life. Should we really be pained or shocked or depressed because we hit rough waters? Challenging weather conditions? There are always actions to be taken, moves to be made, and navigators to help.
I have more to say about all this, and will do so in the next several posts to my blog. Stay tuned. Maybe down the line you’ll see your own situation in print.