As we were talking over coffee for his 39th birthday, my friend Steven described a very interesting life stage model he’d come across. It maps out milestones – such as young adult to mid-life transition – against five key issues that are typically resolved in each. It’s based on a book called Your soul at work (which I hadn’t heard of) but which appears relevant to managers wanting to focus on the health of their organisation, or its emotional intelligence, or the meaning work provides to employees.
I’m a very goal-oriented and achievement-oriented person.
In Strengths parlance, I’m an Achiever. About 15 years ago I set the destination for my career to be making a difference through international development, such as with Oxfam in an executive management role, by the time I was age 50 or thereabouts. I planned, and still plan to, build up my skills and support my family financially, and then at around 50 transition to a job in an NGO where my income wouldn’t matter so much anymore, but in which I could leverage all those skills I’d developed over the prior 25 years.
With that purpose in mind, when I look at the ‘goal focus’ issue in this model I can relate to the challenge they describe as happening at approximately age 40: “Questioning the dream whether or not it was achieved and developing a more mature sense of what is really important”.
I can tell you it’s still important, but it’s frustrating to have not yet accomplished as much as I’d have liked. I’d really like to progress faster.
And that is my deep need for achievement talking again.
As I’ve found the assessment useful, I imagine it could also be helpful if used delicately in the right work environment and with the right intent (ie. not lip service), to give employees a lens through which to view their lives and to thus make better career decisions.