During our lifetimes, we go through five different stages:
1. The Dreamer Stage: From birth to age 18. This is where we plot a pathway for our life, using our educational interests to narrow our focus to identify what we love.
2. The Explorer Stage: From ages 18 to 36. During this part of our life, we explore our passions. We start, we stop, we change, we shift, and we spend time finding ourselves and what gives us the most pleasure.
3. The Builder Stage: From ages 36 to 54. With a strong foundation, we now build on our passions using our self-awareness and confidence in our talents to expand our grasp. We embrace this time in our lives with positive energy.
4. The Mentor Stage: From ages 54 to 72. A slight transition from "Builder" to mentor as you retain your sources of income. The difference is that your focus will shift from building to sharing your experience with the intention of guiding people who need it most.
5. The Giver Stage: From ages 72 to 90. After being a Dreamer, Explorer, Builder and Mentor, you can finally fully enjoy the fruits of your labor. Use your knowledge, passion and finances to advance the cause closest to your heart and keep living life.
During the Explorer and Builder stages, we face the realities of our work life, which in themselves have five stages:
- Cultivate Knowledge Stage. With no experience in your profession, you are willing to receive entry-level wages for knowledge.
- Absence of Experience Stage. You are ready to advance your career, but no one is willing to risk giving you a better position because you lack experience.
- Sought After Stage. This is the best stage of our working life — you are in demand because of your talent, experience and success.
- Too-Expensive Stage. Because of your years of service and your incredible experiences, you are in the prime of your working career. In spite of being perfectly aligned, your value is viewed as too expensive — and through your mistakes of the past, you are viewed as a failure — even though you are more than ready to be your best. You can dominate the interview, not the press conference.
- A Relic. As Soren Kierkegaard once said, “Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forwards.” In this stage, you understand your work, but no one is listening or cares about what you know.
For some, these five stages of work and life can occur in a decade. For others, we might spend decades in the second stage and appear as an overnight sensation in Stage 3.
We all want to spend a large portion of our work life in Stage 3 — but the only way to maintain that level of achievement is to constantly redefine ourselves.
We must blend work and living stages together. When we enter the mentor phase of life, we could be considered expensive, but when we give back to others, we can feature currency in our willingness to share. By sharing, we extend our "Sought After Stage," and even though we seem expensive, our ability to consult adds value.
Kierkegaard is right. Life is best understood backward — and giving back helps others.