Sunday, February 03, 2013
What Does Success Look Like?
A small part of me felt a bit of a sting upon seeing this article- no one is likely to write a big, flattering article about me in my local paper, after all.
But mostly, I didn't care, beyond being happy for my classmate. And since I'm the introspective type, I immediately started wondering about why I didn't care, particularly since I've been full of career-related angst lately.
I think it is related to the career advice I've found myself giving a lot recently: know what success looks like for you. My classmate is very successful, but that life is not what success looks like for me.
So what does success look like for me? I think that if I really had that figured out, my career angst would solve itself. Despite the fact that I tell other people that figuring out what success looks like to them is an important first step to figuring out what sort of career options will be viable, I can't fully describe what success looks like for me. I have the broad outlines, though. Success for me is to be always learning new things. I am starting to suspect it also involves creating things, which surprises me. It is having the recognized expertise in some field to make other people want to learn things from me. It is feeling like I'm doing something useful for other people. It is having a lot of autonomy in my work, and feeling like I can make the decisions that matter to me. And it is having a job that provides both the funds and the flexibility to live the lifestyle I want.
The reason my classmate's success is not the success I want is in that last bit- that particular type of academic career path doesn't provide enough flexibility for my tastes, and doesn't offer a reasonably likely path to that flexibility until quite late in the career, if at all.
But the more important questions of whether some aspect of my definition of success is missing from my current career path, and if so, which aspect is missing? Those still elude me. I'm working on that.
What does success look like for you? Are you on the path to achieving it?