Your Work/Career LifeMap–What’s Your Next Step ?


What does your history of work and career-related experience reveal about you in terms of your basic interests, passions, values, and your goals or aspirations? Can you trace patterns of development in how you have arrived at your current occupational and avocational situation? Where do you hope to be headed from here, and how will you get there?

To explore how life mapping as a general practice can be helpful in providing personal insights about work and career related life patterns and trends, I have mapped my own. To do this yourself, you may simply list all of the jobs or responsibilities and your career related experiences from very early in your life, til now. If you did the same thing repeatedly, list every time you did that; for example if your waitressed several times, repeat “waitress” in your list to reflect that pattern. When I did this I found I could identify an obvious  series of “stages” with regard to types of jobs and career related activities I have engaged in over time. So, I found it natural to “block” groups of work-related activities together according to developmental time frames. My work-related life-mapping to that point is shown below as an example:

Household chores  student   mow lawn   wax cars {learning responsibility, potentials, gender bender}

Ice chipping at Fair    crab/salmon cannery   Farmhand (suckering grape vines; trimming and picking peach trees)   summer drama coach assistant    usher/toll booth ticket seller at performing arts center {outdoors, physical labor; arts related}

/ college: student  reader   writer  journaling/ poetry   fencer /  {development of unique skills and              interests/outlook}

bar cleaner/solo    Mr. Softee icecream truck driver   {independent activities, nontraditional}

tutor    instructor    researcher    library researcher   author  teaching asst  fieldworker/researcher    faculty associate/ instructor   professor (assistant to associate)   spiritual services provider (talks, classes, workshops, writing PR)   author    personal development process developer    state spiritual services director    academic  committee member/chair   dept chair    personal development coach    author  {academics, spiritual services,  and then public oriented/ “applied research” author}

I created word clouds for each stage next to help me identify and reflect upon repeating themes in each grouping. Here is just the last one of those:


This process has helped me recognize a progression that, in my case, is leading toward a definite shift to a new stage and a major new direction. If I were being a bit more techy here—maybe you can do this with your word-cloud software—I would color-code specific kinds of words to track their development over time; for me, anything related to writing I would code BLUE, for instance, to trace the emergence and gradual transformation of that specific interest and activity. The shift my work/career lifemap reveals to me is that where writing has always been an avocation and later a professional tool, it has increasingly become a primary career focus, so much so that this mapping has given me a definite confirmation and support for an intention I have been nurturing but have been reluctant to act on for the sake of financial stability. My career mapping reinforces for me  that my next step (in 2.5-3 yrs) is ‘retirement’ from my academic position in order to engage full-time with writing and related public service aspirations.


Does your life-mapping of work and career-related activity reveal a pattern of growth and development in your life? Based on your mapping, what would be a natural next step, for you? How can you move yourself into a position to pursue that aspiration fully?

The main goal of a life mapping process is to empower you to Live Your Dream, Now! Reviewing where you have been in relation to where you are now can help provide a strong motivation to focus your attention on where it is you are going from here, and how you can get Here!

I welcome all of your Comments, your personal insights, and Stories