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What Career Season Are You In?

Have you ever said to yourself, “Where am I?”, when thinking about your place in life? Maybe you felt like you missed it or that you’re late to where you’re “supposed to be”. Let me ask you a really sobering question, How do you know that you’re not in the right place at this very moment?

Unless you have been knocked upside the head with red flags, you don’t really know.

In order to make real moves, you need to know where you are – ultimately the season you’re in. With the four climate seasons, we know exactly what time of the year it is, how to dress for the weather, how the season will affect our mood, what celebrations to prepare for, the changes needed in our self-care routines, etc. Your career operates in a similar fashion. Frustration and stagnation surfaces from not knowing what career season you’re currently in.

Within each career season there is a purpose designed for you. There are also challenges. The key is knowing what this season means and how to maneuver through gracefully so that you are successful in the next season. Take a look at each season I’ve outlined to pinpoint where you are and how to thrive within it!

The Green Season

This is the season where you are what is considered “green behind the ears.” At this point, you are new to the workforce, have entered a new industry, or are working in a new function. This does not necessarily indicate entry-level but rather your inexperience in a particular area. Your managers know that they must create an environment for you to grasp the systems, processes, and concepts for you to perform properly. There will be a good amount of repetition in this role, but it is designed to build your foundation. Mistakes are inevitable as this position requires minimal expertise. You can consider yourself to be in a Green Season if you have three years or less of experience within your current role, function, or industry.

To be successful in this season:

  • Focus on learning everything you can

  • Seek a mentor who is a few levels above you, will pour into you, and has been in the same green season as you are in now

  • Supplement your on-the-job training with curriculum learning

What stunts your progress:

  • Trying to run before you learn to walk in this new area of expertise

  • Thinking that time alone will usher you into a new season without putting forth a good effort

  • Not listening to constructive criticism

The Sharpening Season

This season is the most uncomfortable one, however, it Is also the most critical one in terms of how you high you can reach in your career. At this point you have some skin in the game in terms of experience. The sharpening season refines your skills and habits for the most optimal use – if you let it.

Any way you slice it, refining is not a pretty process. In this space, you will be working hard without seeing the reward. Your expertise may not be recognized for how great it is nor for the fires you have put out. You may even witness people, who are less qualified than you, be recognized or promoted over you. This is agonizingly frustrating, but it is NOT the time for you to throw in the towel nor attempt to claw your way out. This is a hidden season designed for you to labor into superior performance. On the other side you will become the unique solution to many of the market’s problems.

To be successful in this season:

  • Allow the refining to take place

  • Create good habits that will sustain you when the promotion comes

  • Remain humble no matter what

  • Make self-care a priority

  • Surround yourself with cheerleaders

What stunts your progress:

  • Forcing your way into promotion or “better” opportunities

  • Brooding, complaining, and throwing tantrums because of your discomfort

  • Taking advice from too many people

The Tipping Point Season

There will come a time in your career where you realize that you have outgrown or fulfilled the requirements of the current season. At this point you are in transition. Contrary to popular belief, transitioning does not occur overnight. It is a whole season and process within itself. When you are in the Tipping Point Season, you start to feel internally stirred about your current job because it no longer fits. Maybe you're not experiencing any career strife, or on the other hand, there was an abrupt change that occurred that was out of your control. Either way, change is in the atmosphere and you will need to shift in order to reach new levels in your career.

You will recognize this season if you are feeling the pull to seek promotion within your company, leave the company, change careers entirely, or launch into entrepreneurship. In any case, you are faced with deciding to move or stay put. Here’s where you need to pay attention to that innate inner feeling because it’s usually right. Just know that at this impasse, choosing to ignore the feeling to make a move will not just allow you to stay put, it will cause you to regress.

To be successful in this season:

  • Let your “Yes” be yes and your “No” be no

  • Review, reassess, and revise your goals to expand your capacity to receive the benefits of the next level

What stunts your progress

  • Straddling the fence

  • Not seeking wise counsel

  • Not trusting yourself

The Serving Season

This is the season of walking in the utmost form of humility. The Serving Season is where your focus is utilizing your skills and gifts to intentionally support another person or team. Cultivating this season is definitely countercultural because your efforts are not to primarily benefit you. At least not at first. If you’re honest, it may feel like you’re cheating yourself the chance to shine. That is so far from true! In this space you have the opportunity to expand your creativity to elevate everyone involved to ultimate accomplishment. Don’t forget that life is reciprocal. What you sow in service, you shall reap in your own success!

You’ll know that you’ve arrived at Serving Season when you start receiving ongoing requests to support or serve people with your specific expertise.

To be successful in this season:

  • Serve the person or team that you are called to with the same grit as you would need for someone to serve you into greatness

  • Focus on building strong interpersonal relationships with the people attached to this network

What stunts your progress:

  • Being jealous of the people you are serving

  • Putting forth a lack luster effort

  • People pleasing in order to be seen favorably

Sage Season

The Sage season is the one that everyone is racing to get to but shudder at the inner and outer work required to carry the expectations attached to it. This is the season that would be considered the peak of your career. You are recognized as the expert in a specified field or function, are equipped with enough training and personal growing pains to teach and mentor others, and you receive opportunities to lead or collaborate in initiatives without having to search for them. As a sage, you are a leader who has enough work and life experience to fully command and design every aspect of your career.

You can consider yourself to be in the Sage Season when you have experience each of the aforementioned seasons and you require support to create room for you to shine in your expertise.

To be successful in this season:

  • Keep up with trends and changes that affect your industry

  • Create a network of like-minded colleagues at different levels where you can freely share and learn ideas to keep you fresh

What stunts your progress:

  • Arrogance that will sour your network and spoil your reputation

  • Lack of delegating

  • Not expanding your knowledge base

The biggest disservice you can do to yourself in any of these seasons is to rush through them to jump to another season. Although some of them are more uncomfortable than others, there is a reward at the end of each if you stay planted and do not uproot yourself too soon. Keep in mind that the seasons are not necessarily linear! You can cycle through them at different points in your career depending on the pivots you make. You can also stay stuck in a season through self-sabotage and rebelling against the characteristics of that season.

Remember, as the cold of Winter turns into the budding of Spring and the heat of the Summer gives way to the changing colors of Autumn, you are meant to progress and shift in your career to arrive at your ideal status.

What season are you in today?

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