With the rise of strategies like quiet quitting, it is clear that work-life balance and career quality are becoming even more essential. The world is changing quickly, and people no longer want to be stuck doing boring activities.
Our mindsets are changing about the purpose of work too. We are starting to move away from the idea that our day jobs can bring us the fulfilment we need in our lives.
The slow process of wealth is no longer appealing. We do not want to spend 35–40 years of our lives saving year on year in a stock account and waiting for a company pension.
Instead, many of us are now very focused on defining success, wealth and happiness for ourselves. Although this comes with a few problems, it ensures people can focus on the things that matter to them most.
When we think about career success, we tend to think about our role, salary and company benefits. These things do matter and will continue to shape job satisfaction for individuals.
However, it is essential to recognise that all these things are enablers of a great career. A good salary, role and company benefits package should help us perform better in our organisations. And performing well is inherent to a successful career because it contributes to self-esteem.
But, it is not just feeling accomplished that makes a good career, it is also clarity. A lot of our career success comes from understanding what you and the organisation want.
The problem is that career clarity can often be difficult to get. Organisations tend to have many career paths that an individual can take. Also, most of us lack understanding of what other people do in and outside our companies regularly.
Although we may know the purpose of an individual’s job, their day-to-day lives may look very different to what you would expect. Unfortunately, this leads to many people being unclear about what career path they want to take.
One of the first things we can do to get career clarity is to begin to focus on ourselves. It is easy for us to get caught up in others’ definitions of success.
Climbing the corporate ladder or becoming a CEO is not successful for everyone. And other people’s actions can often blur the lines between what we believe a good career is and what others expect of us.
Learning how to define career success for yourself is vital. So, here are three things you can consider to ensure you are on the path to a great career.
Choose the Environment Where You Thrive
Our environments are a huge part of our career success. It was not until I moved from London that I realised how important the location and environment we work in are to our career success.
Some people like environments where they can talk to loads of people and bounce ideas off each other. These environments tend to be open office spaces with a culture of working together to find the solution.
Some people enjoy autonomy over having a clearly outlined plan. Industries that are quite regulated and controlled would have an environment where there are processes to follow with little scope for freedom.
There are many careers that will not offer the environment you want or believe you thrive in. They may offer the money and even the role, but the environment is key to your own feeling of accomplishment and success.
Although there is probably no perfect environment that meets an individual’s demands, it is essential to understand what that perfect environment looks like. Then you can choose to practice adaptability to influence your decision-making when choosing a career path.
Being able to adapt to environments is vital too. It is a necessary skill if you wish to take your career far. However, you should not be choosing environments that deliberately make you unproductive or unsatisfied.
So, the first thing that makes a great career is having an environment where you can thrive. That does not only include the building and culture of the city. It involves the type of people you work with and the industry you are a part of.
Choose a Career That Supports Your Values
The theory of values, developed by Schwarts, suggests our values come from three universal human needs:
- Social Needs
- Biological Needs
- Survival & Well-Being
Although we share all of these needs, our perception of how we attain them is different. Our beliefs about a successful career are shaped by our values.
Values and career success are closely related. Research has shown that the differences in gender values may be why men and women choose careers differently.
It is not uncommon to see men valuing achievement and power. Also, women tend to value benevolence and universalism. Both of these value systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and both are needed in the world.
Therefore, it is vital to not let people look down on your values as if they were insignificant. Just because you value achievement, it does not make you a stuck-up and selfish individual. And just because you value benevolence, it does not make you a weak and unambitious person.
Your values are closely related to your well-being. Therefore, not choosing a career path with your values in mind will ultimately affect your well-being and how you feel about your life.
Therefore, consider your values closely and really think about what you want out of your career. A successful career depends on your ability to know your values clearly and to stick with them as you navigate the world.
Understand Your Socio-Demographics
Although we have little control or no control over some of these things (gender, age and place of birth), they are pivotal to our career. Studying what people who are similar to us are doing with their careers may steer us in a better direction.
There is a lot of free research published regularly on socio-demographics and careers. For example, studies have shown job tenure to be negatively correlated with promotion. Also, the age of an individual has been positively correlated with entrepreneurial success.
These patterns can help influence our decisions and access where we are relative to our peers. It is easy to believe that everyone is doing significantly better than you, but understanding where you are in your career gives you the clarity needed to make better decisions.
If you care about promotions, potentially staying in your current job for a long time may limit your growth. Also, increasing your level of education is negatively correlated with career satisfaction. That is due to people having crushed hopes after studying only to realise they will not get paid any higher.
Being aware of things like this can help us better understand our environment and navigate it better. So, take time to study the job market and the failures of others. Doing this will help you prepare for your dream career.
Clarity is the one thing that links all of these three points together. Being clear on your environment, values and demographic will inevitably help you make better decisions.
Remember, career success is determined by you. After all, when your career is over, you will be the final judge of whether it was fruitful and successful, not anyone else.
So, start putting your career in your hands by considering these three things as you journey through it.