The Three Stages of Your Career and Their Lessons: Part 1

Antonius Tsai
3 min readJun 13, 2023

A year ago, I turned 50. It’s an age that triggers a reflection of the life journey so far and wonderment at how time goes by. In the area of life satisfaction, things couldn’t be better. Great relationships. Check. Good money to do stuff with. Check. Enjoying my career. Check. Good health…check…sort of.

As I reflect back on the me of 50 and the me of 30, what was the difference? The difference is I’m tired all the time now. I don’t have the energy that I used to have. But why does life seem better? It’s because I’m better at the life thing than I used to be. I’m really honing in on how to navigate work politics to get what I want. I’m really honing in on how not to trigger my wife and have her like me. I’m also honing in on the beers that I really like. (no more of that crap Coors Lite that I used to drink)

Let me represent this phenomenon in the chart below:

Back when we were young, we had all the energy in the world. Pulling an all-nighter was a breeze. That was our abundant resource. In my 20’s and 30’s, I was in great shape. I could eat a breakfast buffet at Shoney’s, McDonald’s for lunch, and go to the mall food court for dinner without gaining any weight. Well, those days are long gone.

In its place, is a greater sense of calm and understanding. I’ll call this “wisdom”. When I run into a challenging situation or a difficult person, I know how deal with them without getting too frustrated. In my work when I teach, I used to have to prepare hours and hours just to give a 1 hour class. These days, I can just talk extemporaneously from my experience.

The assets that we have in the first half of life is predominantly physical. As we age (if we continue on the path of learning and development), the assets we have are transmuted to the mental and spiritual. This transmutation has implications on how best to conduct our life and career, and I’d like to apply this insight towards creating a successful and meaningful career.

Let’s suppose that we will live to 90 years of age. This allows us to divide up our lives into three stages:

In the first stage (novice), it is characterized by an abundance of energy but a dearth of wisdom. In the second stage (professional), it is characterized by a balance of energy and wisdom. In the third stage (mentor), it is characterized by higher wisdom but failing energy. Based on the availability of energy and wisdom, this shapes the types of career activities which is optimal for that stage.

In Part 2, we will examine the three stages and learn the lessons that stage holds to create a great career.

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Antonius Tsai

My work is in helping people connect to their greater selves and authentic purpose. (https://antoniustsai.com/)