When I shifted careers from U.S. foreign policy and intelligence to career coach, it wasn’t an easy transition. I was worried about money, afraid of leaving behind the path I had been carving for myself since college, and unsure of the overall future this tentative coaching career had in store. But there was one thing I knew for sure — I finally felt successful. In all those years working in the career I had been prepping for since spending all-nighters studying Arabic, while earning six figures and praise from everyone around me, I still somehow felt unfulfilled.
That’s when I realized the way that I measured success wasn’t necessarily the right way. Clearly the way I had been thinking about accomplishment and satisfaction didn’t add up to how I actually felt, and I needed to change my point of view.
Since then, I’ve helped several clients who had to navigate the discrepancies between finally achieving everything they ever wanted, and not feeling truly fulfilled from it. If any of this resonates with you, you may want to take a look at my tips for finding true success at work and on the job.
- Shut out the negativity
It can be tempting to ask others for their opinions on our success, especially those we love and trust. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll have anything helpful or positive to say.
Our world is noisy, and loud, and it can be hard not to listen to everyone’s opinions. Just think about how often we read the comments section on a social media post, or rely on reviews before purchasing an item. As long as you’re certain, and have a clear vision of what you want, letting others weigh in will only fuel your doubts and insecurities.
- Define success for yourself
When you think about being successful, what does it mean to you? Maybe you have some preconceived notions about what success looks like — earning a lot of money, or working a 40 hour week, or being able to take fancy trips whenever you want. But is this really what you believe? How about feeling satisfied in your work, happy at your job, excited about what you do? Believing in what you’re working toward? For me, I used to think success meant following the career path I had laid out for myself years ago. Now I know it means feeling excited and in love with my work, and being able to change lives!
- Determine your drive
Why are you doing what you’re doing? What’s the driving force behind your work, or changes you might be making in your career? Is it fear and doubt, or is it excitement and passion? Maybe you feel stuck because you’ve already invested so much into where you’re at right now. This holds especially true if you spent a lot of time and energy on an expensive degree, or if you’ve spent years training in your current job. But don’t be afraid to reflect, and make sure you’re really feeling called to what you’re doing. If you look within yourself and realize you’re being called down a different path, don’t be afraid to take that road less traveled by.
At the end of the day, your success should spark joy within you! At its very base, success is about what you feel, and what you want. You’re putting in all this effort into your career, so who is it for? Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” And I think we can all agree that he was a successful man!