This paper argues that the psychological concept of identity development is constructed from ideals of maturity which support the political purposes of economic rationalism. This privileges vocational identity above other aspects, and in so doing marginalises the activities and purposes of large groups of adults. A reconceptualisation of developmental subjectivity as inscribed in life projects is proposed. This concept places emphasis on directionality and subjective purposes in defining self and asserting agency. The reconceptualisation is illustrated with case studies of four women. It is concluded that in the usual discourse of adult development and learning the agendas of these lives are invisible, and therefore not generally open for discussion as developmental processes.