Consider this – the average career spans 50 years.

Over that time, we learn new skills, meet new people, take on more responsibilities, muddle through transition, and if we’re lucky, we are able to balance personal and professional interests.  As much as we prepare and plan, we often navigate through uncharted waters, and sometimes the unexpected occurs. We change course and seek a new direction. All the while, we are moving forward. It’s the story of our professional lives, and it’s not so different than the plot diagrams we studied in school. Like a great story, a great career has a plot, setting, rising action, denouement, and resolution.

The Plot of a Story is a planned sequence of events. The Plot of a Career is a sequence of events, some planned and some unexpected, that lead you on your career journey.

The Setting of a Story is the time, place and environment in which the story takes place. The Setting of a Career is your life. It encompasses many locations and spans time. Responsibilities evolve. The constants are drive, determination and the desire to perform, excel and ascend.

The Rising Action of a Story is the part of the story where characters, obstacles, or conflicts are introduced and addressed. The Rising Action of a Career is the early stage of one’s career. It’s a period of time where people gain knowledge, foster relationships, and overcome challenges by seeking solutions. The Rising Action of a Career typically ranges for 5-7 years. In the United States, the average tenure with one company is 4 years which means that an individual in this stage of his or her career is likely working for his or her second or third company.

The Climax of a Story is the turning point of the story. It’s the point where conflict is resolved, or is being resolved. The Climax of a Career is the peak phase of one’s career and lasts 25-30 years. This is the stage where the greatest production occurs, and where the most money is made. People at this stage have refined skills, more experience from which they can learn from, and a robust network of personal and professional contacts. People in this group are tasked with continued career trajectory while often taking on additional personal responsibilities like caring for children and/or parents. People in this group should be assertive in their exploration of opportunities. It should be constant. At this stage, people work with multiple companies, in multiple capacities, and often follow former colleagues.

The Falling Action of a Story (Denouement) is the outcome, result of aftermath of a complex sequence of events. The Falling Action of a Career is not one incident. Rather, it is a series of problems solved, projects completed, time devoted, and relationships leveraged over time.

The Resolution of a Story is the part of the story that establishes a new norm; the way things will be from that point forward. The Resolution of a Career is the stage in one’s career where rewards and recognition become more meaningful. It’s the stage where people reflect. It’s also the stage where mentoring becomes essential. People at this stage want to give back. They want to share knowledge and experience. They are committed to the community, volunteering and continued learning.

It’s time to get reacquainted with your career. Your career is a journey and you’re writing the story.

David Rose is Vice President of Recruiting with YELLOW DOG Recruiting. Follow David on Twitter @YELLOWDOG_01.