Consider what motivates you when defining career success

170635730Some are tempted to define their success by comparing levels of responsibility, while others look for the hottest trends in occupations.

Instead of looking for external avenues of what others might use as a definition of success consider what motivates you as a starting point.

A couple of weeks ago, a manager described what a successful employee would look like in his department, the skills they would need in order to do the job combined with specific experience. What he failed to mention was the motivation factor that often determines whether a person is successful.

In a marketplace where promotions and compensation are limited, they can have a direct bearing on how you define success, and that can slowly chip away at your motivation. It’s not that people start their careers with bad intentions of setting themselves up to fail in their line of work, rather they could be basing their idea of success on external definitions.

If you find yourself in a successful career but are having doubts if this is what you really want to do in life, that could be a sign you need to step back and listen to your self-talk.

From a career point of view, nothing can be as painful as going to work every day in a job that is unfulfilling. Even though others perceive your career as successful, don’t allow yourself to be stuck in a job because it looks good.

Here are some steps to ponder when defining your career success:

Consider what’s really important to you. A good way to get in touch with your priorities is by answering the question of time. What would you do if you knew your career would end in one year? What do you truly care about? Pay attention to your first gut response, it’s often the one most revealing.

Identify the areas where you want to contribute such as; technical, market analysis, leading teams or managing projects. Are you spending the majority of your time in those areas?

In reviewing your career, look for themes of interest such as the industries or roles that always seem to draw your attention. What type of themes are woven throughout your career such as; non-profit, education, manufacturing and self-employment?

Success can often be defined as your purpose in life, such as the impact your work has on others. Look beyond the mechanics of job performance to the broader scope of good will toward others. Volunteering can often bring the greatest feelings of success when efforts make a difference in someone’s life.

Motivation comes from within and don’t wait for others approval before changing careers. Learn to identify what success means to you.

The question, “What would you do if you knew you could fail?” serves as a good reminder that most want to avoid risk even if their career path is not ideal. Life is too short for comprising your interests.

Keep a success journal throughout the year and make it a habit to jot down accomplishments that brought you happiness. Highlight the skills you used and your contributions.

How do you define career success? What are you giving up in order to stay in a career path that might have been influenced by others?

Kim Thompson