What Do Seasons Have to Do with Our Careers?

I recently attended the HR Houston 2019 Gulf Coast Symposium on HR Issues. Amongst the many thought-provoking sessions, Wyn Bumgardner’s (Principal, Career-Locator) concurrent session, the Career Reboot: A Map for Maximizing Career Satisfaction, spurred me to reflect upon my career.  As a result, it promoted writing this article.

Bumgardner used a four seasons approach to explain the cycles experienced in our careers: Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. A season’s timing, frequency and duration are unpredictable and unique to the individual.


The Four Cyclical Career Stages

Season 1 – Summer

It’s a time of vision and energy.  We are running at full speed, growing and thriving in our careers, and flourishing in life.

Season 2 – Fall

Primary activities are reflection and introspection. Oftentimes, we ask ourselves thought-provoking questions:

  • Should I stay or leave the position?
  • What do I still want to accomplish in this role?
  • What do I want to leave as a legacy?

As Baumgardner stated, this season is a prime opportunity to engage a coach.

“Having a trusted co-active partner to ask challenging questions, listen, and create a safe environment to assess your present position can help efficiently advance to a state of rejuvenation.” – Lillian Davenport

Season 3 – Winter

This is a time of rediscovery and renewal, gaining clarity on direction, and establishing a new compass, including what must be present to move forward.

“It’s a time of letting go of the past and focusing on the possibilities of the future.” – Lillian Davenport

Season 4 – Spring

Reinvention is the action of this season.  It involves exploring career options, determining fit, defining talent and capabilities, launching a job search, or creating one’s own path (such as becoming an entrepreneur).

Making It Personal

Bumgardner encouraged asking these questions as a look back:

  • When have I experienced the season(s)?
  • What were my thoughts, feelings and actions?
  • What lessons did I learn?

In my look back, I readily recognize the seasons in my career, taking stock of my thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Could I have navigated the seasons more effectively? Probably. With conscious knowledge of typical behaviors and feelings during the seasons, I could have more fluently transitioned through the career stages to greater personal satisfaction.

That is, re-defining my dreams and goals, and then connecting my enthusiasm, interests, skill, and knowledge to quickly realize a new Summer.

An Action Challenge –

  • Determine your present season.
  • Ask yourself, “What might I do more of, better or differently to optimize the season or navigate to the next stage?”
  • Decide on three actions you will immediately put into motion.

Now that you are aware of the career seasons, applying this knowledge empowers and liberates you to proactively manage your career – fully enjoying your current Summer or successfully navigating to a new one.

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and women’s leadership strategist. Her leadership program, THE END VIEW FLAME SYSTEM, guides women in bringing together their talents, strengths, and executive presence to experience a thriving career.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.