A Spectrum of Metaphors

The metaphors that will be listed are only meant as a starting point to encourage positive self-reflection and change. Many other metaphors might be considered. In a book on Metaphor Making (2010) I describe forty different metaphors that could be applied within the context of aging. This is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of metaphoric possibilities.

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Community of Pioneers (New Frontiers)

Leider and Webber (2013) point out that while we all have individual journeys to enter into, the key is not to go it alone. If there is a desire to take up a new challenge, then it is important to have others alongside that will offer direction, provide constructive feedback, and give support and encouragement along the way. It is essential to establish relationships that are sustaining. It is important to become part of a community where there are shared values.

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Calling

Starting a journey can be self initiated, or it can start from a source outside ourselves. In a spiritual sense, Smith (1999) states that calling is something everyone has and it comes from God; it reflects our basic fundamental identity and life story. Even if people don’t start from a spiritual perspective, there can still be the recognition of a pull towards something larger than one’s self. Calling is significantly different than a particular job or occupation; it grounds us and gives meaning and purpose to all our life and career actions.

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Career Flow

There are times in one’s life journey when everything seems to work out perfectly. Csikszentmihalyi (1991, 1997) uses the term ‘flow’ to refer to these special occasions. When you are in the flow you are fully engaged and some of the descriptors include terms such as: happiness, time standing still, unrestrained, energized, risk taking, peaceful, coping with change, focus, and intrinsic motivation. Being in flow involves an ideal interaction between challenging activities and personal capabilities. It often focuses on those moments when we are using our full capacity to handle challenging situations. In exploring these flow moments it is important to look for the patterns imbedded within the period of flow. What is it that stands out for you (feelings, thoughts, actions) and creates this very special sense of engagement?

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Journey

One of our most common metaphors is that of the journey (Inkson, 2004). Journeys, of course, can take many forms. There can be movement from one place to another by land, sea or by air. Also, one can talk about movement at a more abstract level, considering changes in ideas, emotions or perspectives. Movement is rarely in a straight line, but rather a series of twists and turns and a need to make adjustments along the way.

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Designing

In coming to terms with the challenges and the possibilities imbedded within the third age there is an opportunity for each person to decide how they will make meaning of their lives and take effective action.  Savickas (2005) suggests that this process is really one of life/career design. We are given the opportunity to engage with life and career through a process of constructing our reality.

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