Campling’s Age/Work Arc Theory

ideaaaMatthew Campling, a prominent psychotherapist, once completed a case study after which he created what is now known as Campling’s Age/Work Arc Theory (or CAWA). The theory was developed after Campling asked a simple question – can a job in today’s work environment be held for life or will you have to move on as your career goals change?

The first question we really must ask ourselves is whether or not we are talking about our jobs in terms of our lifetime or in terms of careers. In today’s day and age, it is less common to find a person who sticks with the same career for an entire lifetime. Many people change careers completely at least once and some will change three or more times.

There are two facts to consider when we think about our ages in relationship to our work are a) what will make us happiest longest and b) how long we will live. We already know that people are living longer lives, so will the same jobs our parents kept from their teenage years through retirement keep us happy just as long? Whereas people were once afraid of change, change in life (and career) is now almost guaranteed.

Here are a few questions you’re eventually going to have to sit back and ask yourself:

  • Do you have consistent levels of talent or will you be considered a “one hit wonder” in your career field?
  • Can you ensure that your career will never be sidelined?
  • Why are some people very happy with their career choices while others seem to have a tough time finding one that works for them?

There are dozens of other questions but, in short, they look to bring an understanding to the realization that many people will have a low point, high point, and then a low point (forming an arc) in their career patterns. People tend to reach a “high point” and after that seem to spiral downwards as their career cycles end.

If you are “happy” at work you may be at the peak of your career and in a few months or years may suddenly feel as though you’ve lost track of your goals, sidelining yourself.

The real question is this: what can you do as you build your career, or before you get to that pivotal high point, that will ensure you’re always happy.

Do you think it’s even possible to remain truly happy at work – forever? Think on it and let me know your thoughts.

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by Feelart of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Updated on: 11 November, 2009

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