What Is Your Definition of Career Success?

I have another guest post for this career advice blog today. It comes from Jane Perdue, a leadership consultant.  Check out Jane’s thoughts on her blog http://www.lifeloveleadership.blogspot.com.

The very first tweet in my latest career success book, Success Tweets says, “Define exactly what life and career success mean to you.  It’s easier to hit a clear unambiguous target.  Jane agrees.  Here is her career advice on this subject…

How Do You Define Success?

The article title “Are you willing to pay the price for success?” did its job. I began reading. By the end of the second paragraph I knew this article was something aimed at “first act” me – that ambitious woman who was all too willing to pay the price the author offered up as requirements for success: long hours, the Blackberry grafted to my palm, living out of suitcases, singing the corporate song and perpetually doing more with less.

“Second act” me would love to introduce the article writer to Marilyn, a client who says “I’ve lost my way and don’t know what to do.” (Hey, I’d like to chat with him, too.) Marilyn, like so many others (including me!), enthusiastically anteed up the big blind for corporate success, and paid it over and over again for 20 years.

Marilyn achieved the success she sought – the coveted senior vice president role for a large multi-national firm. Now, after two years in her long sought treasure, she questions not so much the price (that was clear from the beginning) but rather the success — all that for this: even longer hours, more travel, a single-minded business focus on the bottom line and the stock price, and greater pressure to do more with less. As Marilyn described it, it was just more of the same only on a bigger scale.

“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” — Christopher Morley

What the article author and Marilyn did was define the price. Neither defined success.

• Is success the corporate corner office, the lofty salary, the grand job title?
• Is success feeling contentment, knowing that you’ve made a difference?
• Is success public acclaim or being a celebrity?
• Is success being able to work from home wearing your sweats and no mascara and/or not shaving?
• Is success writing that anonymous six-figure check to your favorite charity?
• Or is it something totally different? Even a combination of the above?

“Every human has four endowments – 1) self-awareness, 2) conscience, 3) independent will and 4) creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom: the power to choose, to respond, and to change.” — Dr. Stephen Covey

Whether we define and measure success by or with things or outcomes or feelings, the choice is ours.

The key for fulfillment comes with knowing what our personal success target is.  So when we claim our prize, we’re getting what we truly wanted!

What’s your definition of success?

I like what Jane has to say.  It’s common sense career advice.  To be truly successful, you have to define exactly what life and career success mean to you.  And, you need to make sure that your definition of your career success is yours and yours alone. 

Tweet 6 in Success Tweets says, “Make sure that your personal mission and vision are what you want – not what someone else wants for you.”  Unhappy doctors and lawyers who are following their parent’s dreams for them are almost a cliché.

The common sense career success coach point here is simple.  Truly successful people define what life and career success mean to them personally.  They look deep inside themselves to discover their purpose and direction in life.  They listen to, even solicit, advice from people they respect and trust.  But when it comes to defining their own career success they are “the decider” — as George W. Bush used to call himself.  It’s your life and your career.  You have to live it.  That’s why you have to define your career success based on what’s right for you – not what other people think is right for you.  Other people, particularly those close to you, have your best interests at heart.  That’s why you should listen to what they have to say; but you need to make the final decision on your personal definition of career success  by yourself.  That’s the first step in taking personal responsibility for your life and career success.

That’s my perspective on what Jane Perdue has to say about career success.  What’s yours?  I’d appreciate it if you would share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading.  I really appreciate you taking the time to read my musings on life and career success.


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  1. Very interesting post – to me, success is a job that I love and enough money to be comfortable.

  2. Good for you Sara.
    You’re on your way to creating the life and career success you want and deserve.
    Once you’re clear on what you want — in your case a job you love and enough money to be comfortable — you can begin creating your success.
    I wish you the best of luck in doing so.
    If you haven’t already downloaded “Success Tweets”, my latest career advice book, you can do so at http://budbilanich.com.
    Have a great week.

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