Getting a raise, being promoted, landing a sought-after job: Most of us equate these milestones with success.
And while these achievements are cause for celebration, theyre not the only way to judge your career.
Real, lasting success stems from identifying what fulfills you most, and then allowing those things to influence your daily work and future career decisions. I know that sounds like a challenging task, but you can get started today by asking yourself three clarifying questions.
1. What Are My Values When it Comes to Work?
Its easy for days, weeks, and even months to fly by when youre consumed by the day-to-day pressures of your job. But, thats how people end up spending years in a career path that they arent quite sure is right for them.
Its essential that you put aside time to think about the bigger picture: where you are, what you find fulfilling, and where you want to be.
Is your work challenging? Do you appreciate an environment that celebrates risk-taking? Do you want more opportunities to flex your creative muscles?
Answering these questions requires a lot of self-reflection. But, taking the time to tackle these topics can help you discover more about yourself and your long-term goals. Itll help you zero in on how you define success, so you move toward achieving it.
For example, it could be that youre not making as much money as someone you know in a similar role at a different company, but they feel like their days are filled with mundane tasks and youre given many more opportunities to grow and learn and pursue projects that interest you.
2. Whose Career Do I Admire?
The answer might be a family member, a friend, or a former colleague. It doesnt need to be an influencer or even someone in your direct line of work. (Though, its OK if it is!)
Think about someone who inspires you, and ask yourself why you consider that person to be successful. Is it because of the industry they work in? The amount of travel they get to do? Or, maybe its because of the impact they have on peoples lives?
Maybe you know someone who you see as a real trailblazer in her field. Shes constantly taking risks and innovating, and as a result asked to participate in pretty cool opportunities. Once youre able to pinpoint the elements of her career that you love, you can allow those characteristics to inform your own path.
Whats more, dont be afraid to use that person as a resource and a mentor. Reaching out for advice and confiding in someone about your ambitions can be intimidating, but remember that people want to help and see you succeed. Having someone to talk to as you work toward your goals makes staying focused and navigating the ups and downs of your career path seem a whole lot more manageable.
If youre unsure how to go about that, here are the secrets to turning someone you admire into a real-life mentor
3. What Impact Do I Want to Have?
Many people want to do meaningful work, but are held back by a one-dimensional view of what that means. For example, you might initially think that this only applies to people who work at nonprofits.
But there are lots of ways to make a difference. For example, it could be that youre most engaged when youre designing useful products, or motivating a team, or working directly with customers.
To feel impactful in your work, hone in on specific areas within your organization, field, or community in which youd like to see change happenand allow that to influence your goals, both in the short and long-term.
Change will not come overnight, but identifying how youd like to leave your mark, and working toward that leads to professional fulfillment.
Answering these three questions may seem like a tall order, so start small. Grab a notebook (or start a new note in your phone) as your go-to place for when inspiration strikes. When you feel energized about something, jot it down. When you meet someone who impresses you, scribble their name and what you learned.
Continue this processobserve, reflect, repeatuntil your own goals become clearer. Once they do, youll have a well-researched jumping off point for how you want to pursue career success.
Updated 6/19/2020Ariel is a Certified Financial Planner professional at Society of Grownups. She believes that good financial advice starts with asking the right questions and determining how each Grownup personally defines success. Prior to joining Society of Grownups, she worked for a Registered Investment Advisor, helping high-net-worth individuals and families define and achieve their long-term retirement and investment goals. In addition to being a Certified Financial Planner, she is also a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA). She holds a BS in International Business from Northeastern University.More from Ariel Anderson