Can you recall specific books that have had a great influence on your life? Perhaps they were inspirational books that really lifted you and drove you forward, or perhaps they were autobiographies that really touched something deep inside of you?
I have read a number of books that have changed who I am and how I view my life, and one in particular has shaped my career path. A number of years ago I read ‘The Empty Raincoat’ by the business expert Charles Handy.
One particular section of this book referred to the sigmoid curve, and for some reason it really resonated with me. The basic premise is that our working lives follow a pattern similar to a sigmoid curve.
When we start a new career path or make a significant change to our existing one we are full of energy and enthusiasm. Progress is rapid, and we are driven to get results. However, after a period of time the initial buzz begins to waiver, and we no longer have the drive or passion.
At this point we have two choices – (1) to continue as we are, and tend towards underperformance and frustration; or (2) jump to a new career path, either a new one entirely or a re-invention of our existing one.
If we decide to follow the second option, the most difficult decision is knowing when to ‘jump’. On the sigmoid curve this is shown by point ‘A’. If we fail to jump at the right time we may then enter the downward trajectory towards ‘B’ where it becomes increasingly difficult to make the necessary change.
According to the sigmoid curve theory, the pattern occurs at regular intervals throughout our working lives, but the time span between peaks and troughs varies from person to person. Looking back at my working life I know that my pattern repeats every 5 to 6 years. I have made four major career changes at the following intervals; 5 > 6 > 4 > 6. I am now entering the end of the fifth year in my present job, and I know that the time has come to make a change.
I have made a significant difference in my present position, but I no longer have the desire to push forwards. The time has come to look elsewhere ……
Consider your career path so far. Can you see any reflections of the sigmoid curve? Looking back, can you identify key moments when you should have made a change, but failed to jump?
Many people get frustrated in their existing jobs because they have missed the jump and are now heading inexorably towards ‘B’. Don’t let it be you! Be proactive, plan ahead, and get ready for the next exciting change in your life.
Keep dreaming those big dreams!