What Does Career Success Mean To You?

Posted: Thursday October 14 2021

By: Abbie Coleman

What Does Career Success Mean To You?

By Nicola Semple

Life is busy. It’s easy to get swept up in our day-to-day routine and find ourselves working toward goals that aren’t important to us.

If everybody around us is working longer hours, focused on that promotion so that they can afford a bigger mortgage or to pay for school fees, or to fund foreign holidays then it’s easy to get swept along and believe that we should be doing the same things.

The author Anna Quindlen, sums it up beautifully:

“If your success if not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all”

I want to encourage you to identify what career success looks like to you, so that it feels good in your heart.

A lot of people find it difficult to identify what they want. In fact, often people find it easier to define what they don’t want rather than what they do want.

This can provide a helpful starting place but unless you get to the point of defining what you DO want then you will never know what you are working towards.

Some helpful exercises to help you identify what career success looks like to you are:

  1. Map Out Your Ideal Day/Week

This is an opportunity to play and get creative about how you want to spend your time. You can choose whether to map out your ideal day or week. For some people a day makes sense as there is an element of routine to the work that they do. For others, the type or location of work they do may vary throughout the course of the week.

Use your imagination but also get highly practical and into the nitty, gritty and logistics of your day.

  • What time will your day start?
  • How many hours will you work each day?
  • Where will you carry out your work?
  • If you don’t work from home how long is your commute?
  • Will you work alone or part of a team?
  • Will you manage other team members?
  • Will you have a lot of responsibility?
  • Will your work involve travel?
  • What will you spend your time doing?
  • How will your work fit with other family commitments?

Once you’ve created this vision of your working day you can then move on to more practical question of money.

  1. Understand Your Financial Motivations

Building a successful career is not just about the amount of money that you earn. However, you need to be realistic. You need money to put food on the table and a roof over your head, so it needs to be part of your consideration of what career success looks like to you.

Ask yourself:

  • How much do you need to earn?
  • How much do you want to earn?
  • What is the gap between what you need to earn and what you want to earn?

Be honest with yourself about this. I have worked with clients in the past that have said ‘money doesn’t matter to me’ only to discover there are things they would love to do with their life that require financial investment. They don’t want to appear greedy or overly focused on financial gain because of their upbringing and ingrained beliefs about money.

One other interesting perspective to thrown in is to ask yourself:

  • Are there elements of your ideal working day that take a higher priority than earning what you want to earn vs what you need to earn?

This helps to unearth your priorities around what you are willing to sacrifice for incremental financial reward.

So would you accept a lower salary than you would ideally want so that you could permanently work from home?

Or so that you could work a 4 day week?

Or so that you could walk to work each day?

This provides more detail to the picture of what career success means to you.

  1. Create Your Development Plan

Your ongoing progress and development is also a major factor in determining what your career success looks like. Ask yourself:

  • How would I like to continue to develop in my career?
  • What does that look like specifically? For example, qualifications, courses, skill development, industry experience?
  • What resources do I need to help me to develop?
  • How can I contribute and support others with their career development?

This final question I think is incredibly important. As we grow and progress in our own careers it’s important to be mindful of how we can help those that are coming up behind us.

These three exercises will help to clarify your thoughts on your version of career success.

Remember, you are in control of YOUR career. Once you know what it looks like, you have the power to create your version of career success

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