7 Great Ways to Measure Career Success – or Signal it’s Time to Make a Change

I was talking with my niece one day and commented on all the buzz about Millennials in the workplace.

I mentioned that many websites were playing up that Millennials want jobs that are meaningful.

Her immediate response to me was, “Doesn’t everyone want that?”

I immediately agreed that I’d found it odd that this was played up. I also felt that way, and I’m not at all a Millennial. And I had also assumed that most people feel this way.

It led me to think more about what creates a successful career.

Success is subjective. Even so, there are certain criteria that seem to be more common in what makes someone feel more successful and happier in their career.

Multiple Ways to Measure Career Success

Career success isn’t simply measured by money, the number of years at your company, or job title.

People are unique and we all have unique values and priorities. For this reason, success depends on what’s important to you.

What one person considers important may not matter as much to someone else.

One person may value money more than anything else, no matter how mundane or stressful the work. Someone else may feel driven to impress others with an important-sounding title, even if the work is unethical.

And some people may start down one career path thinking it will be ideal, only to learn it’s not a great fit after all.

There’s no single job criteria that will indicate career success. A job that pays well won’t make you happy if you’re doing work that makes you miserable.

There are, however, several criteria that can more often lead to a sense of career satisfaction and success.

Here’s a list of seven criteria that can play a role in how successful and happy you are in your career.

1. Career growth

assertive communication skills

If your career offers ways to progress along a career path, you won’t feel stuck or limited in what may be possible.

And it may not be only a move to a manager position. It may instead be something like moving from project coordinator to project manager to project principal. You may move from being a project manager to being a portfolio manager or product manager.

Being in a career that offers options and growth keeps it interesting and satisfying through the years. You won’t be stuck in a dead-end career that offers no chance of movement. Instead, as you gain experience and expertise, you can continue to move forward along the career path.

2. Meaningful work

Having a career that allows you to do work that’s meaningful gives more purpose to your job.

This could be work that’s meaningful within your organization, or on a larger scale.

Your work is interesting and important to you. And hopefully, you’re able to spend your time doing something you can even feel excited about.

3. Livable wage or better

It’s important to be able to cover the necessary expenses to reduce stress in your life. It’s even better if you’re not just getting by, but able to cover indulgences such as dining out occasionally and travel.

You may also need to have money to care for others, like children or elderly parents.

It’s also important to be able to save money for emergencies and retirement.

Finding a job that allows you to earn enough without requiring additional jobs to get by can help you feel more successful in your career.

4. Opportunities to learn

A career that provides opportunities to learn new skills will keep it interesting.

You won’t get bored as easily, and you’ll be able to change things up as you add new skills and expertise in your role.

5. Work enjoyment and satisfaction

So many people dread going to their jobs and hate the work they do. Free time with family and friends is important, but it’s so much better when you also love your work.

And if you love your work a great deal, it often doesn’t even feel like work.

6. Making an impact

A career that lets you make an impact in your company can be greatly satisfying. Knowing that you’re able to do work that impacts the team, or the company, or the world helps you feel like your work matters.

It also gives you a sense of accomplishment that money can’t buy.

Leading or contributing to a project, helping to solve problems, or leading change within your organization are all contributions that can positively impact many people and teams.

7. Career stability

You have a career that allows you to live without the constant fear of being unemployed.

Even if you find yourself in a position of being downsized or laid off, you have skills and experience that are in demand and will allow you to find another position.

Working in a career that gives you skills and expertise that are in-demand and transferrable provides flexibility and peace of mind.

Bonus: Your work aligns with your values.

You get bonus points if your work aligns with your values. If you work for a company that supports a mission that’s important to you or you’re able to contribute directly to something meaningful, then you’ll feel a more direct link to how your work positively supports your values.

This can give added meaning to your work. Then it won’t simply feel like a job, but a way you’re contributing to a larger mission.

Project Management Can Meet all These Criteria

I’m constantly promoting project management as an amazing career choice.

Much of the reason is because it can satisfy all the criteria listed above.

Additionally, you can find project management roles in many different industries. Project managers work in industries such as healthcare, logistics, music and entertainment, hospitality, and too many others to list.

Project managers often work remotely and have flexibility in their roles.

And project management skills are in high demand and are projected to be for many years to come.

It’s a great career choice for many reasons. It’s not perfect for everyone, but it’s got so many great things going for it that it’s a great consideration.

I’d Love to Hear From You

Leigh Espy

I’d love to know more about your personal experience in working in or considering a project management career.

If you’d be willing to complete a short survey, it would help me serve you and others better, and I’d appreciate it more than you know!

Here’s the link to the survey:

Project Management Career Survey


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