June 29, 2021 - Fulfilling Career? Start with “Success” and “Values”

Want a Fulfilling Career? Start with “Success” and “Values”

Have you ever felt like having lost interest in your work, getting bored more and more often, wondering if you were on the “right” career path for this period of your life… and thinking that, maybe, it was time to make some changes? I certainly did, several times - and I expect that this will happen a few more times in the future…

Just realizing this loss of interest and wondering about changes is a major step - but it’s only the beginning of a journey that will, hopefully, take you to a different career path (whether it’s just a slight change or a major one), one that fulfills you again… until the next time!

Personally, I find that the next best step is to re-assess what it is I really want out of my career, that is, what “success” means to me.

What Does Success Mean to You?

Identifying what “success” means to you, whether you’re a seasoned professional or starting in your career, is key in identifying a career path that suits you better:

  • Do you want to reach a more senior position in your line of work, such as being a project coordinator and wanting to become a project manager, maybe a project director?
  • Do you want to reach the highest position possible on the hierarchy ladder, even considering becoming a CEO or President?
  • Do you prefer a meandering path based on opportunities “passing by” and interesting experiences: working for different types of companies, on different types of projects, in different positions, in different countries…?
  • Are you happy with a stable position, where you know what you have to do without suffering too much stress, and have the time and earnings to lead the life you want outside of work?
  • Or would you like working intensively for several months, such as working on a remote construction site and living in a camp, and then enjoying a long break that allows you to spend quality time with your family, travelling, or doing anything else that matters to you?
  • Or a mix of any of the above options?

Why is understanding what “success” means to you so important? Because, as Alex Jasin stated:

If we don’t answer this question, we can end up climbing the wrong ladder and pursue someone else’s version of success. We get to the top only to discover we climbed the wrong mountain. We achieve our goals only to realize they were the wrong ones.

How Do You Decide What “Success” Means?

For some of us, finding what “success” means comes easily. But, more often than not, what we identified as “success” as teenagers, young adults or at the beginning of our career doesn’t fulfill us anymore after a while, or when our priorities or circumstances have changed so much that we need to review our position on what “success” means to us. But how?

Having asked myself this question for some times, and not finding a satisfactory way of doing it on my own, I decided to embark on a mentoring program – a first for me!

I’m finding that this mentoring program provides great guidance on how to reflect on past experiences, identify strengths through some personality test, and on how to look forward into the short, mid and long-term. But that’s what it is – a guide. It’s still up to us to ask ourselves what it is we really want from life, especially from our professional life.

For me, reflecting on past experiences and thinking back about the “why” I took on these positions, the “why” I felt fulfilled in some of my responsibilities, and the “why” I moved on, brought me back to my “values”. And, by “values” I mean:

“the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity” according to psychologist Barb Markway and Celia Ampel in The Self-Confidence Workbook

Each of us has a different set of values that flows from our personality, past and present environments, life experiences, social and professional circles, cultural knowledge, etc.

Sometimes, even a very short, totally unexpected encounter can awake our curiosity, lead us to identify a new “value”, and take us onto a different path…

Sometimes, our family, friends, colleagues and other people in our social and professional circles don’t understand some of our key values. It’s really up to each of us to decide whether these values are worth committing to, taking them into consideration when thinking about our future…

And there are other times when we have to adapt our values based on our life’s circumstances, whether they’re familial, economic or administrative - and do the best we can to retain enough of our values to still fill fulfilled, or at least satisfied with our current career.

Are our Values “for Life”?

Of course not! Our values, and what “success” means to us, will change as time passes by, following our multiple life experiences and changed circumstances. But we need to take the time, and have the “courage”, to reflect on where we stand from time to time – and that is easier said than done!

It is so easy to fall in a routine, or to lose interest in what we do without realizing that we need to address the situation, or, even worse, to fall into the vicious circle of negativity and potentially depression…

But how can we avoid falling into these traps? Should we:

  • Set-up our own regular “career review” (independently of the one organized by our employer)?
  • Be part of a mentoring program that guides us in reflecting on the past and reconsidering what we want for our future?
  • Take on a life coach to gain a fresh perspective on our challenges and opportunities, and to reconnect with ourselves?
  • Create our own “Board of Directors” with whom we could have more personal discussions than at work, and get a different perspective from?
  • Other options?

So, are you ready to re-evaluate your “values” and identify what “success” means to you at the present moment, and take a step toward a more fulfilling career – or at least make sure you make changes from time to time to stay fulfilled?