The Key to Balance…Know Your Work and Life Seasons

The Key to Balance…Know Your Work and Life Seasons

Work and Life Seasons

When I first took the time to layout and try to align my work and life seasons, I found it pretty fascinating.

I was trying to figure out why I was feeling so burned-out and disengaged at what would otherwise be considered the “peak of my career”.

I developed this “typical” Work and Life Seasons graphic as part of my own life mapping process.

Take a minute to digest it.

chart graph

This is what I found:


We can have an active adult work-life timeline of up to 50 years.


Our work and life seasons do not always align.


Transitioning from our “master our craft” season to our “make a name” season at work can coincide with transitioning from our “me/we” season to our “family” season in life.  This shift makes sense in that we would now be working to provide for our family’s financial needs.


Transitioning from our “make a name” season to our “make a difference” season at work can coincide with our transition from our family season’s “raising” phase to the “letting go” phase.  This shift again makes sense as, at this point, we may be operating at fairly high levels of expertise at work and looking for more challenges.  Depending on our circumstances, it may be harder to find those challenges at work.  We may also be in a comfortable financial position and the allure of money may not be the same as it once was. This could be especially true if, at the time, it became apparent to us that our kids were suddenly growing up and time with them is growing short.  In this context, many of us become retrospective and wonder what life will be like in the future when the kids leave to begin their own lives.  Aligned with our shift at work, our interests and actions often shift to more of a coach and supporter role.  Our goal becomes to pour into our kids as much of our wisdom and knowledge as possible so that they can be prepared and be their best and work to maximize our positive impact.


Similarly, transitioning from our “make a difference” season to our “leave a legacy” season at work can coincide with our transition from our empty-nest season’s “pre-grandchildren” phase to the “grandchildren” phase.  This can make sense as we may be beginning to face our mortality and want to give back as much as possible to those who will follow in our footsteps.



Each of our work and life seasons is different and comes with different goals and aspirations.  These changes are reflective of where we are in life and the experiences we have had to date.  Each season can also represent a transition point or “fork in the road” that we need to navigate.


“Each of our work and life seasons is different and comes with different goals and aspirations.”
– Peter C. Atherton


There can be conflict and confusion if we don’t navigate well from one season to the next or we are not operating in sync with our present season.  For example, if we have a family and operate in “me” season mode, there can be conflict and confusion.  Similarly, if we operate in a family “raising” phase mode when our family is really in the “letting go” phase, we can also have conflict and confusion.


“Understanding both life and work seasons will help you avoid the conflict and confusion that often occurs at their transition points.”

– Peter C. Atherton


On the work front, if we have mastered our craft and new opportunities to leverage our proficiency to larger and more complex assignments or opportunities for greater management and leadership roles don’t come our way, it can be frustrating.  Similarly, when we are no longer inspired and motivated by aspects of our jobs, and no new growth opportunities are available, we could grow both bored and frustrated.


Transitions between work seasons can affect our non-work life, and transitions between life seasons can affect our work.  As presented in some of the observations listed above, these transitions between seasons and phases can complement each other.  Transitions between seasons and phases can also work against each other and contribute to feeling burned-out, bored, and trapped.


Once we have a handle on our seasons, the next step is to decide:

How best do we balance and integrate our various needs and obligations with our goals and aspirations?

How do we begin to incorporate desired elements now missing from our lives?

I’ve outlined a process to do so in my recent book, Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and will also be covering these in future blog posts but, for now, we need to take some time to map and reflect on our own work and life seasons.


What work and life season are you in?

Have you transitioned into a new season and not realized it?

Is that the source of any conflict or confusion at home or the office?

What opportunities do you see for better alignment between your work and life seasons?


To your winning,

PS – Feeling burned-out, disengaged, or that you are missing out?  Check out: 7-weeks to Reversing Burnout and Avoiding It Forever Fast Start Program

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Pete Atherton

About the Author

Pete is the President and Founder of ActionsProve, LLC, author of Reversing Burnout. How to Immediately Engage Top Talent and Grow! A Blueprint for Professionals and Business Owners, and creator of the I.M.P.A.C.T. process.  ActionsProve works with professionals and business owners to create greater growth and profits through more effective employee attraction and retention, impact, and branding.  Prior to founding ActionsProve, and for more than 20 years, Pete was a very successful and accomplished professional engineer.  Pete sold his engineering firm ownership to focus on designing systems for you and your organization to grow and succeed in more relevant and effective ways.  For over a dozen years, Pete has also been serving in multiple capacities in the non-profit sector to achieve both local and global impact, and is a co-founder of the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Knoxville and the 100 Men Who Care chapter for Southern Maine.

For a more expansive biography and experience summary.

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Work and Life Seasons