(New English Dictionary - not the most precise definition in this case)
As the dictionary definitions came thick and fast - OK, in truth there was only really a handful - it became apparent that some of these words had meanings that took on a new relevance and importance within the world of work and careers.
Explorations into our individual relationship with work brought changes so the language people needed to express themselves had to change too.
It's been a while but these changes in work, and in the language used to describe it, have caused me to re-open the dictionary and offer a new word and a new definition today. That word and that subject is, 'Continuity'.
The idea of continuity in careers is definitely changing. Continuity in the past (you might prefer the word stability, or theme, or consistency, or something completely different but I like continuity) was mainly spoken of in terms of employment. "How many years have you been in continuous employment?" is a question you might recognise from questionnaires and forms.
Now and in the future, 'career continuity' can also mean something different. It has taken on a new meaning that goes beyond employment and refers to an individual person and the life-span of their career too.
As you can see below, I have borrowed from the style of a dictionary - Yes, Dictionaries do have style! - to try to expose a little more of this new 'career' dimension behind the word 'continuity'.
Take a look and see what you think...
noun ( pl. continuities)
1 the unbroken and consistent existence or operation of something over a period of time : you can find a new continuity behind your career choices
• a state of stability and the absence of disruption : your career experiences demonstrate a continuity that goes beyond employment.
• (often continuity between/with) a connection or line of development with no sharp breaks : learning more about your individual relationship with work will help you discover a new sense of career continuity
2 the maintenance of continuous action and self-consistent detail throughout your career
• the linking of career items with a common theme and through all forms of communication (spoken, written, electronic, etc.)
ORIGIN late Middle English : from Old French continuite, from Latin continuitas, from continuare ‘continue,’ from continuus (see continuous).
I'll admit that the above definition only really makes sense if you can experience the difference between a lack of career continuity and possession of it. [or in the absence of possession, an understanding of career continuity at least.]
Without a sense of continuity, there is a good chance that your career can feel lost at times (e.g. if you are out of work for long periods).
With a sense of continuity that stays relevant to your career whether you are in work, out of work or facing anything else, you can never feel lost in the same way.
In other words, the feelings of being lost (or finding yourself in a place where recovery is impossible) aren't as destructive. In fact, if you can find a solid sense of career continuity, a great deal of power is taken away from difficult career situations and given back to you. The main threads and thrusts of your career remain in your hands.
I hope you don't mind this little trip down memory lane with the dictionary. I'd be very keen to hear your opinions on the subject of career continuity, including what your own definition of career continuity might look like!
All the best for now,
Here are some more dictionary definitions that have appeared on work/life fusion in previous posts: