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Should One Aspire To Have A Traditional Career?

I wrote the following on LinkedIn earlier today:


I recently read an article in The Atlantic about managing your professional decline as you near retirement. It was a thought-provoking article that left me to consider the following things:


1) Given the ageism rampant in hiring in the latter stages of one's career (see LinkedIn's trending news for more on this), should we optimize having a shorter career with higher impact vs. a traditional 30-40 year career?


2) We will all face our professional decline sooner or later. Isn't it worth reexamining how emotionally invested we as individuals and society place in our careers and working?


Here's my answers to these questions:


Yes to optimizing for a shorter, yet higher-impact career. The truth is you don't know when Corporate America will decide when its your time to go. The 20, 30, and 40-year careers at a company are of a past age. The fact that ageism is a real and extensively documented phenomenon within the workforce shows that you most likely won't have the luxury to decide when you want to call it quits.


I'd rather leave my own terms, especially once I've hit my professional peak, than be laid-off due to "downsizing."


In Western society, we place to much emphasis on our careers and work in general. What we do as professionals comes to make up a huge part of our identity.


I don't think that's healthy at all. It goes without saying that there's more to life than work, but it should be said that how we view ourselves should account for our passions and hobbies, our relationships with others, and our aspirations for what we want to become, not just what we do for a living now.


I'm trying to internalize to myself that I'm more than what I do for a living or what I've accomplished on my resume, so I can live a more meaningful life.

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