Career success is a personal definition, but too often we grade ourselves by the things that are easiest to measure. While a certain salary, fabulous title, or the corner office are all ways we can view achievement, they don’t always get to the heart of our career journey. These metrics may also lend to comparing against colleagues, instead of focusing on ways to evaluate and celebrate our own personal progress. Feeling ready to define what career success means to you? Here are seven helpful questions to ask yourself.
1. How much influence do you have?
One of the greatest measures of effectiveness in a group or work setting can be taking stock of how much influence you have. If you are the person that seems to always know how team morale is or if you are approached repeatedly by new team members with questions, you are likely a strong influencer. You may also find yourself being called on by other departments or management to weigh in on things that you aren’t directly responsible for—which highlights how much your input is valued. Being this type of resource in the workplace is a great indication of not only your emotional intelligence, but also of likely work-related success and your ability to make a positive impact.
2. What do you create and what is the impact?
When you think about you career, consider what you create in your job. It could be a product, project, or simply a great client experience, but realizing what you created wouldn’t have existed without your effort, care, and expertise is a way to measure success. Sometimes it’s the expectation that we need to do something huge and exceptional to make a difference. Not the case! It’s important to remind yourself that success and service can happen in many different ways—you don’t need to join the Peace Corp to do something that can change another’s world. In fact, it may be the simple ways we make an effort that stand out as successful.
3. Have you created valuable relationships throughout your career?
Once we’re out of school, the workplace often becomes where we make our greatest friends and grow social networks. Do you have a work best or group of colleagues that you share happy hours with, trade stories and career goals, or cheer each other on through rough days? Like energies attract! If you have been lucky enough to have met a few best friends through the office, appreciating these relationships and acknowledging the value they’ve added to your personal development is another way to view success.
4. What have you learned?
Some of our biggest career lessons are tiny moments where you gain a better understanding of company culture, how to handle office politics, or how to manage when dealing with organizational leadership. What are the lessons you’ve learned about how to handle issues? If you’ve mastered the unique quirks and how-tos of your office and company culture, you’ve become more well rounded as a professional.
5. How well do you fail?
It’s true: Sometimes success is taking a big risk, having it flop, and learning something really powerful along the way. Early in our career, we might not be great at failing—maybe we judge ourselves, feel like we should have known better, or didn’t handle a situation with grace or professionalism. Take a look at your responses to both big and small failures—and how it has changed over the course of your career. Do you respond differently now than when you were just starting out? Sometimes failing also helps us rule out the things we don’t want to spend our careers doing. And that insight can set us up for even greater success down the road!
6. How far have you come?
One of the best ways to measure career success is looking at where you began—it provides you a personal yardstick that keeps you from comparing yourself to anyone else! So often we focus on how far we have left to go in our career goals and think only about next steps and how to get there. Instead, call to mind the “you” of five years ago. What did that girl want to learn, experience, or risk to achieve? Career success in this moment can be about how well you’ve met those personal goals or how you’ve handled and learned from the changes in your path.
7. How do you feel on Mondays?
Every week you have an opportunity to evaluate your career success—it’s as simple as asking yourself how you feel on Monday morning. Are you excited about the workweek ahead? Do you believe there are new challenges to tackle and new things to learn? While we all may struggle with the Monday morning grind, ask yourself if, on average, are you excited about or dreading the week ahead? This is another way to evaluate how successful you’ve been in finding a career that fits your goals and lifestyle.