What does it mean to be successful? When I was starting out in my professional career, success for me was associated with money, a car, a house, and other material objects. It meant moving up in the corporate world, being well-known and high-powered, and doing it all in a dress suit and stilettos.
But over the years, I have started to redefine my version of success. As I started achieving the things I wanted off my 'success' list - a new car, a luxury brand purse, and so on, that feeling of “I’m successful, check!” never happened. I didn’t feel accomplished. I wanted more. And more.
And for the things I did have? When I purchased them, I’d get that feeling of “I did it! I finally got 'here' ... and after a few hours that feeling would wear off. I would then want something else. I still didn’t have enough, and I wasn’t successful.
It was extremely dissatisfying.
Since then I have reframed what it means to be 'successful.' It turns out; I love the work I do and doing a good job is much more fulfilling than how much money I make or what my job title is. If you love what you do, everything else falls into place. You will have enough for what you need, and more because you're not spending on not-so-fulfilling things. You will have the job title you want because you'll be recognized for being a team player-- not pushing others out of the way to get to the top.
These days, here’s what I look for so I do feel successful— and in a way that it’s okay to keep striving for more success (which is always going to happen):
1. Be Authentic at Work
I love a job when I can be 'me' and be accepted for it. Instead of pretending to be agreeable and nice about everything, I can engage in friendly banter and disagreements about what I like and don’t like. If I need to take a vacation or need to leave work early for whatever reason, it’s okay— because I do the work when I’m there, and there is a level of trust that the things will get done. I have a life outside of work. A work culture that is built on trust is one that I can feel confident and successful in.
2. Ask for What I Want
When I started my new job, I finally negotiated for myself for the first time. After doing my homework and researching what others in my position make, I had a particular number in mind. When I received my offer letter, and it was lower than expected, I asked the recruiter that I wanted a salary that was comparable to what others in my industry make. I gave a range; the minimum needed to make accepting the offer a no-brainer. It was risky, and I was nervous feeling that I had "offended" the employer-- but not to worry, this is never the case.
On the opposite note, I have taken a pay cut for a job that sounded much more attractive, and they were unwilling to negotiate at all. I didn't even make it a year.
3. Choose something that is challenging you to grow
A boring job is not worth it. If you are surrounded by people you can grow from and are given new challenges, you will continue to strive for— and achieve!— success. With any job, even if you work for yourself, you will gain fulfillment from lifelong learning and figure out new things. It keeps life exciting.
So, what do you think? How successful are you right now, and how can you redefine success, so you feel successful while you’re still moving up?
Remember, there’s no endpoint to success, but rather, success is a feeling that you want to fall into over and over again.