Finding Your Career Success Zone

At a recent community event, I had a long conversation with a neighbor about my experience and passion as a career coach.

As he discussed his success as a social worker, he noted, “People keep asking me to take on leadership roles, but I am not interested. Does that mean I am holding myself back?

Upon further prompting, he revealed to me that he didn’t want a leadership role because it didn’t line up with his personal values and life priorities at this time.

He wanted time with his family and more importantly free weekends. Nothing wrong with that.

It got me thinking about how you define career success for ourselves may not be the same for your colleagues, teammates, family members or friends.

  • How many times has someone with well-meaning intentions questioned your career decisions?
  • Did someone think you were crazy because you turned down a promotion or new leadership role?
  • Are you getting blank stares when you tell others than money is not your top career motivator?

When our careers align with our interests, passions, values and life priorities, we are definitely in a good place and in our own career success zone. Even if it makes no sense to some other people.

So how do you know when you are in the career success zone? More importantly, how do you stay there?

A) Decide what career success looks like for you

We are not all motivated by the same things. Some common motivators for career and job satisfaction include:

  • High salary
  • Flexible work hours
  • Awards and recognition
  • Autonomy
  • Rapid career promotion
  • Opportunity to travel
  • Continuous learning
  • Stability
  • Challenging projects
  • and much more

What puts you in the driving seat and helps you land in the career success zone may be not do anything for me, but that’s okay. Make sure you are measuring your career success by your own personal and professional values.

B) Avoid getting stagnant or complacent

  • Have you ever started off at full speed with a new project or assignment only to lose steam later on?
  • Did you diligently attend on the new training courses, but never put that new knowledge to use?
  • Are you guilty of going along with status quo because it feels easy and safe?

Industries, technologies, market trends and business needs change all the time. Any knowledge you have today will quickly become obsolete unless you make the effort to stay current, stay informed and stay engaged.

Now, you don’t have to run out an get a new degree or certificate every couple of years.We live in the age of information, finding out more and gaining new knowledge is not difficult.

Try reading your industry publication every week, get news briefs on what is going in your market, take webinars, go to brown-bag luncheon, talk to colleagues and subject matter experts in your field.

Just make growing and learning a priority for you…don’t be complacent and overly confident in the knowledge you have today.

c) Stay in the right circles

Have you ever heard the expression, “success breeds success”?

So I ask you this question. Who is in your close circle of influence?

If you needed to find another leader who inspires you and motivates you to grow, would you have to look far?

When you surround yourself with positive, supportive people who have similar goals and drive for success, it helps you to keep moving forward.

Their ongoing career successes and professional growth give you a visible reminder of what is possible.

Also, make it a regular practice to evaluate your professional progress and chronicle your achievements.

When you can see in writing what you have done before, it gives you energy, confidence and momentum to keep raising the bar for success.

d) Be willing to try something different

I worked with a client many years ago who wanted to transition from banking to another industry. She was burnt out from doing business development and having to press against aggressive and often shifting revenue goals.

After doing some career exploration coaching with her, we identified the non-profit industry as a good fit based on her board and community involvement and her deep passion for youth development.

In less than 30 days of launching a job search, she landed a Director-level position for a top, national non-profit organization.

Her success strategy here? Being willing to try something new and something different

Don’t limit your success or value proposition based on your technical skills and expertise.

  • Your expertise may be in marketing, but you are a wizard at managing difficult client relationships
  • Your expertise may be in financial analysis, but you are adept with delivering operational improvement and efficiencies
  • Your expertise may be in sales, but you are unmatched when it comes to finding untapped business opportunities

Think outside the box and be willing to use your gifts, strengths and experience in different ways.

Do you consider yourself to be in the career success zone?