Consider your career as a life journey and not a ladder

Consider your career as a life journey and not a ladder

Success is not a destination but a journey

Most of us tend to associate career development with climbing the professional ladder; trying to manage our careers as an upward only process, re-framing professional development as a journey rather than a ladder can be much more fulfilling and beneficial in the long run.

The career ladder although goal-driven, can sometimes give a limited view of success and it’s possible that an over-reaction to not achieving the vertical climb could be catastrophic through bad post- decisions and mindset.

Why ladder climbing is a limiting approach

Stop thinking of your career as a ladder and start to re-frame it as a path; very few people see a career history that goes up all the time, many people have solid years in work experience as preparation for more senior, more challenging or changing roles. Learning to think about career development as a rewarding and enriching experience will help you to focus on professional satisfaction and personal happiness aspirations as opposed to vertical achievement.


Reasons why the ladder model is limiting:

  • It’s important to remember that everything is possible and to keep open to new ideas.
  • You don’t have to pursue a strict and rigorous career plan, in order to be fulfilled.
  • Many people discover true happiness once they become open to alternative options.
  • Chances are that your dream job could be in a completely different sector or a different job type. Changing careers midlife is quite common.
  • Going for the career ladder approach will limit you and curb your attempts to unleash your full professional and creative potential.

The ladder-based career approach has a very narrow vision in terms of your own self-assessment of your potential. For example what if your ability is much more than the career goal you have set yourself and what if you have set yourself timelines that interfere with relationships and life interruptions; small successes need to be enjoyed at leisure.

But the biggest limiting factor of all to the career ladder is using this as the measure of success in life. There are many flavours of success; continuous work, happy job, work-life balance, etc. And here’s the key point; if you know a person who has reach the grand age of 100 years old, ask them whether they considered their life a success, the chances are they would say ‘yes’; not because they made manager in their 20’s, director in their 30’s and executive management in their 40’s, they’re more likely to attribute success in years gone by, family and friends, indeed survival.

So there’s a good and wonderful alternative you can adopt right now; to view your career as a life journey to help you accomplish the growth that you need, in the knowledge that the process will be accompanied by a lot of excitement, happiness and personal satisfaction.

A career path as a journey rather than a destination

You might change jobs a few times and adapt in order to discover your potential. The journey may take a few hairpin bends, it might get rocky or it might go straight along the tow path, you might reach a motorway for the fast lane and then turn off on the ‘B’ road; remember that exploring the possibilities and irrational job-hopping are two completely different things.

Seeing your career as a journey still means that you have a purpose and a goal, but you are measuring success entirely differently and experiencing fun along the way.

Discovering happiness and the perfect job is much more than being one hundred per cent committed to getting a promotion. The pursuit of the right career involves a bit of experimentation, an open approach, a bit of luck and planning, and on occasions some professional guidance.


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