Three Stages of Work Why It Pays Off to Strategize Early
Even at 60 years of age many of us have to work hard to make ends meet. No one is guaranteed health or wealth. Unless we are in line to inherit a huge fortune from our parents, we should all aim to go through three stages of work in our lifetimes. I want to share these stages with you now so we can be strategic early in our lives as we design our professional journey.
In our youth, we discover our profession. We build our careers, and we prepare ourselves to become the best we can be in our field. This usually takes years; don’t rush this phase of work in your life. If this step is skipped or abbreviated because you are eager to be more productive with your trade or your income, you may limit yourself in the second and third stages.
The building stage is centered on education. I always advise people to get the highest education they can, as early as they can. I have never met anyone who had a Bachelors degree, a Masters, or a PhD, who regretted it. I have met plenty though, who regretted not disciplining themselves to do it.
Building not only includes schooling, but also self-study, apprenticeship, or preparation of some other kind. For me, preparing myself for my career meant ten years of medical school. My “price to pay” was the entire decade of my twenties, as I completed medical school at age 30. This stage may demand a lot of sacrifice from you and those around you. Adjust your expectations to accommodate for that and commit to building yourself for your career.
One may ask, “Should I go back to school at an older age? In my 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s?” Of course every situation is different. However, if I were to answer this question it would be, yes.
Working hard is the phase in life when you put your education to practical use. It’s when you garner experience for yourself. Don’t be timid or lazy. Work hard and try new things in your field. If you are bold, it will be a time of both failure and success.
Work hard to prove yourself—both to yourself and to others. Through years of hard work, you will gain professional success. You will create a reputation for yourself not only by what you produce, but how you produce it. You will discover and prove your personal work ethic during this period of your work life.
In the third stage of work, we begin working smarter. If we have successfully worked hard during the second stage, we now have experience. Experience brings wisdom. So in addition to working hard, we can now work smart.
If we have developed ourselves from the beginning, others will respect our experience, success, and wisdom. Therefore, this is the stage we may notice others want to come along with us. But if we have not matured emotionally, intellectually, and in our character, this will not happen. This is why I make the point from the beginning that we should recognize the three stages early in our lives in order to maximize our development.
Regardless your age or stage in life, maximize your growth in your career. Teach your children and the young adults in your life the value of applying themselves in each stage of their development. Understanding these three stages and working diligently in each one will prepare you for the next. The people who commit themselves whole-heartedly in each stage make the most effective leaders and have the greatest impact on others.
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