In nature and in life, things tend to progress in cycles. Think of the cycle of your working career. In the beginning, you invest a lot of time in your federal career. Over time, there is a period of growth when things begin to go well. You learn more about your position, develop more skills and become more familiar with your role. At some point your professional growth reaches a standstill. Before that happens, you may consider reinventing yourself, not professionally but personally.
Bob Buford talks about the Sigmoid Curve in his book Half Time: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance. The Sigmoid Curve can be used to express professional and personal performance over time. It describes four phases that federal employees experience throughout their working career but encourages that retirement isn’t “the end.” Its only the beginning.
Phase 1: Introduction
Introduction takes place when you begin a new job. You work hard but little seems to get accomplished. You do all the right things with little reward.
Phase 2: Growth
During the growth phase, your federal career begins to take off. You learn more about your job and become better equipped to get tasks at hand accomplished. You have a sense of energy and success. Each day brings improved revenue and growth.
Phase 3: Maturity
When you reach maturity in your position, all of the passion and intensity you felt during the growth phase begins to die down. Energy levels drop and your working career begins to coast along. You’ve essentially mastered your job.
Phase 4: Decline
Finally in the Sigmoid Curve we have reached the decline phase. Energy levels fade away and you no longer achieve the results that you once did. This may be around the time that you retire. During the decline, you may find yourself asking—What now?
If you think of the Sigmoid Curve from a business perspective, you reach a plateau in growth. Meaning you are no longer growing but instead reach a point in your career where you become stagnate. We refer to this as a strategic inflection point. A strategic inflection point is the realization and need to reinvent yourself before you begin to experience complications. Consider taking up a hobby like Tai Chi or signing up for a sewing class. Stay aware of where you are on the Sigmoid Curve. As you near the peak, have a strategy to begin or continue your passions that will allow for a life of significance after federal employment. The later you wait in your federal employment, the harder it will be and the longer it will take to launch your new life of significance.