By Meghan Bailey

There are certain points during your career that you will need to step back and re-examine where you are going and what you are looking for. Just like seasons during the year, there are different seasons in your life. Life being as unpredictable as it is can sometimes catch you off guard and the goals you had set for yourself throughout your dream career path may not be working anymore. Here are five key times in your life to re-examine where you want to be.

One to Three Years After College/High School
Sometimes you major just to major, other times you know your path. Either way, once the books are put away and it’s time to live in the real world you have to figure out what the real world is to you. Does it mean moving away for a dream job? Taking an internship? Now is the time for you to take a chance and see where the world will take you.

On Your 29th Birthday
You are five to seven years into your career, things may be going great, but there are some things on the horizon that you need to prepare for. Whether it be your personal values, a family you want to start or the inevitable glass ceiling you are going to have to conquer in the corporate world.

Your 35th Birthday, Or The First Promotion You Were Passed Over For in Your 30s
This is a good midway point in your career. You’ve had time to grow and make mistakes. Now it’s time to get down to business. At this stage in your career, you’ve put the work in, and you know what it takes. Are you where you want to be? Have your morals, goals or aspirations changed? What do you want (with no one else in the picture)?

The Prime Earning Age
When you hit 39 or so, you will be in the prime earning window of your career, and this window affects you long term. This is the time you need to check your surroundings ( or to see if what you are earning is near the top point in your market. If not, it’s time to evaluate what to do about it. Your income at this age is necessary because of retirement. You may have a harder time after this to get to where you want to be, not impossible, but this is the time to figure it out.

Close to Feeling Done
Retirement. At some point in your career, there will be a switch that happens. You will start to feel complete in the sense of your career, and you may feel a pull to do other things with your talents besides corporate work. Your finances are sound; you feel that your time in the workplace is coming to an end. When this happens, be honest with what a retirement would look like for you. Will you volunteer? Travel? Take on a less stressful and non-paying job just to get out of the house? When you’ve put your time in, figure out what you want out of time moving forward.

No matter when you check in on yourself, know that it is okay to change your path. Life is made with zigs and zags, a straight line never happens. Being a successful corporate working woman one day and then wanting to stay home to raise your family the next is ok. Working in a nonprofit only to realize you like the idea of working in a corporate setting is okay too. It is your path and you only need to please yourself.