Defining Success

by sysop in Career Pathways

Road to success

by Kristina Burroughs

One of the most important things you can do in narrowing down your job search starts with a series of questions that only you can answer. The first step is defining what success practically looks like so that you move closer to achieving the goals you established.

There are very few people in the world who knew what they were going to do with their life at an early age. In fact, the Wall Street Journal just reported that the average American worker will change careers seven times in a lifetime! How is that for certainty and stability? The Department of Labor Statistics reports that the average worker’s tenure in America was 3.8 years in 1996, 3.5 years in 2000, and 4.1 years in 2008.  This is very different from the traditionalist generation that viewed staying with a company for lifetime as successful. All this to say, the world is changing, and it is vital to define what success looks like for you – both today and in the future – so you can navigate the changing landscape of the global market accordingly.

Here are a few basic guidelines for defining success in whatever stage of your career:

  1. What are your non-negotiable core values? How can you determine what organization you want to work for if you have not established what you personally define as important?
  2. Success may look different in different seasons; determine what success looks like for you in the various stages of your professional development. Break the vision down into manageable pieces.
  3. Be honest with your potential employer about how you would define success when they ask the proverbial question everyone dreads, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”  Bring vision with you to your interview and be authentic about how you define success. This question tells the potential employer or recruiter a lot about what you value.

There is no right way to define success but establishing your own personal standards and values is a critical step in the process. If you do not know the general direction in which you are going, recruiters cannot help you get there.


These remarks were originally posted on Free The Future on November 21, 2012.