Crisis as a Catalyst for Career Change
Change may be the only constant, but we are seldom prepared for it. Especially for anyone caught in the Stress Cycle, the onset of a Turning Point is typically met with either a stubborn insistence to cling to what is familiar or a compulsive leap to something entirely different.
What is a Turning Point?
A Turning Point is a time of change and may or may not be precipitated by a crisis. The hallmarks of a turning point are reflection, asking yourself questions about your current level of enjoyment, or wondering about other options. A turning point can feel like a crisis whether or not precipitated by a specific event.
Decisions at turning points may or may not result in drastic change; sometimes a 5% adjustment can make all the difference. They are times when we are most open to making changes—changes that we’ll pursue or implement over the next several years. Learn more about the Stress Cycle & the Balance Cycle.
Turning Points aren’t all bad, by any means. They are excellent times to stop, evaluate what is and is not working, and make adjustments as needed.
A Time for Careful Introspection, we talk about Turning Points a lot at Highlands because it’s during a Turning Point that you often seek the help of a coach or career counselor who advises you to take the Highlands Ability Battery (HAB). Here we explain what often happens during each Turning Point.
Turning Point #1: High School to College – This is the first career decision that most of us make. It is one of the most predictable Turning Points of all. As a teenager, you are ready to separate and become independent from your family, and the first Turning Point is the first step in this process.
Elizabeth’s story illustrates the power of the HAB in helping students choose a major in college.
Turning Point #2: College to the Work World – Most people make some career decision between the ages of 22 to 25. This will set you on the path of your first Building Stage. These decisions can range from the decision to continue with school, to starting that first job, to staying home with parents.
Justin’s story is an example of what it can look like to reach this turning point.
Turning Point #3: 30’s Assessment – Whatever path chosen at the Second Turning Point tends to continue for some five to seven years. In the ages from 28 to 33, you will likely reassess and reevaluate that path.
Like Jasmine, some people will wonder if a promotion is the right step or if it’s time to change directions.
Turning Point #4: Midlife Transition – You arrive at the end of your first life structure (about 20 years) in the ages from 40 to 45. At this point, you typically want something different from your career than what was wanted until now. It may be a goal or a value that you started with but then left behind at an earlier age.
Read Sandra’s story as an example of what this transition can look like.
Turning Point #5: 50’s Assessment – Just like the 30’s Assessment, you will likely take stock of choices you made at the Midlife Transition after five to seven years. This is an opportunity to modify directions chosen earlier, or in some cases to start over again if choices were unsatisfactory.
Don’s story is an example of someone who decides to take charge of his career rather than continue to rely on luck.
Turning Point #6: Pre-Retirement Transition – At this time (age 60 to 65), you have reached the end of the second 20-year life structure. You must make major changes in direction and goals, and begin your third life structure. It is potentially a time of great integration, satisfaction, and happiness.
Why is Reaching Midlife so Often a Crisis?
Probably the most famous (or infamous) Turning Point is the Midlife Transition—otherwise known as the midlife crisis. What is it about this particular Turning Point that causes so much turmoil?
For one, the stakes are usually higher by the time you reach midlife. Spouses and children are often involved, and work commitments are greater. At the same time, you’re realizing that you have a limited amount of time and energy to invest (something that never occured to you in your 20s and 30s). Maybe you can’t have it all, in the sense you used to think was possible.
For someone who is trapped in the Stress Cycle, the easiest changes to make during the Midlife Transition are external and reactive: change careers, change cities, change spouses, change hair color, change cars.
But unless you take the time to truly understand yourself and get outside of your System Self, these changes are just temporary fixes that will run their course and leave you back where you started. And this is true of all Turning Points—without knowing who you really are, they will never lead to lasting change.
So how do you make decisions during these critical junctures that will bring you closer to your True Self? How do you really change?
By creating a Personal Vision Statement with the Highlands Don’t Waste Your Talent: Your Personal Vision to Life & Career Fulfillment Coaching Program.