Chaotic careers: a narrative analysis of career transition themes and outcomes using chaos theory as a guiding metaphor
ABSTRACT In a rapidly changing world of work, little research exists on mid-career transitions. We investigated these using the open-systems approach of chaos theory as a guiding metaphor and conducted interviews with seven mid-career individuals chosen for their experience of a significant mid-career transition. Four common themes were identified through narrative analysis, where ?false starts? to a career were a common experience prior to finding a career ?fit?. Career transitions, precipitated by a trigger state and/or event such as a period of disillusionment, were an important part of this ?finding a fit? process. Overall, career success outcomes were shaped by a combination of chaos elements: chance, unplanned events, and non-linearity of resultant outcomes. We discuss implications for future research and practice.