Most of us associate our career progression with vertical growth, moving up the rungs as it often translates to pay rises, better perks, a corner office perhaps, more recognition and being looked upon as a symbol of power. As we started off on our career journey in our early or mid 20’s dint we look up in awe at those men and women who held these positions of power and imagined ourselves in that C suite some day? This often becomes the definition of a successful career. But lets be realistic , a promotion or a pay rise that makes one feel satiated is not going to come every other year, so does that imply our career journey is listless and the only way one could really define success is by achieving these few so called milestones which are now seen over time as the cornerstone of success? NO.That would be a very demotivating place to be in , if one were to solely define their professional worth by these.
How then can one , while aspiring to achieve these goals no doubt, continue to build a fulfilling career?
Before I get into the how, its important to answer the question about why one has to look beyond these definitions of success? While we all agree this will come once in a few years given the flat hierarchy most organisations follow these days with fewer titles and cost pressures mean one would usually be not very happy with their pay raise. As we spend a significant portion of our time at work its key we derive satisfaction and feel we are adding value, learning something and at end of the day as our head hits the pillow, there is a sense of contentment. Else, imagine the agony we are putting ourselves through for prolonged periods of time if we are unhappy with our careers. Its not sustainable.
And with that I come to how I believe one can look beyond these few things which are important and one should aspire for, but are not the “only” milestones of success-
- Pick something at your workplace beyond your desk job, find something that the organisation offers and that matches with your personal interest. It could be being a part of Diversity and Inclusion stream, Health and WellBeing, Learning and Development, Fun activities, Volunteering in non profit organisations. While this gives you an opportunity to move away from your desk and meet people from diverse backgrounds thereby widening your network , its a great way of deriving a sense of fulfilment from a completely difference source at your workplace.
- Mentor someone, share your network, and take others along as you grow. People are not going to remember you for your designation , your net worth is all about how you made them feel. Dont we keep in touch with people long after we have moved organisations because we have a sense of respect, we value them for how they treated us, especially on our not so good days. A mentor I look up to and greatly admire always told me “Pass on the good deed” and its been my motto since. While the corporate world is brutal, there is kindness in pockets, people who genuinely care about you and are willing to support you without any expectations. Its time you be that person for someone too.
- Have a set of friends, hobbies, things that make you feel joyful outside work. I cannot reiterate how important it is to have a circle of friends outside work where for once you dont talk just work and workplace gossip which can get toxic sometimes. Its equally important to have a hobby, an interest, something that ignites passion. This could be spending time on self care, with your loved ones or anything else that sparks joy. On your not so good days, its often this that will keep you going. While work is important , there is a whole life beyond work waiting to be lived.
In todays fiercely competitive world and the exodus of people across industry with everyone sporting a fancy title and talking of insane amounts of money, its normal to sink into an abyss of self doubt but that as someone I love told me is a bottomless pit and the choice lies on no one but us if we choose to sink or or not step into. Remembering each of our journeys are unique, we have our personal stories, our aspirations, our limitations, the choices we make are going to be different.
Whether we choose to determine our net worth solely based on what has been earmarked over time as the measure of success or chart our own destiny and define our success on our own terms, is the choice each one of us need to make.