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Know What You Want From Your Career

Identify Your Success Criteria for Career Satisfaction and Success

Seems simple, right? It’s not that simple, but that is where the secret comes in. Career Design (CDA) has successfully helped countless clients transition their career since the ‘70s. They go through an in-depth self-exploration process to identify skills, interests, motivation, talents and much more.

One of the things all CDA clients do is identify their Success Criteria, which is a guide for them to use as they make decisions, especially those that relate to their career life and its effect on their personal life.

Scientific research is increasingly documenting that job satisfaction – having work you enjoy getting out of bed and doing – is a major factor for a healthy long life. The major problem with most of us is defining, deciding, and knowing what brings us work satisfaction.

We originally thought that the work world through 2020 would provide much opportunity for knowledge workers who keep their skills current. The future looked bright in 2006 & 2007. However, as we move into the 21st century, there is continuing change, chaos and increasing complexity, both in our professional and personal lives. Traditional rules managing our careers and selecting career options are passé.

As we move through 2014 there will be many opportunities for the talented technology/ information worker, but it will demand much more careful career planning. Deciding what will bring you satisfaction in your work and which option has the most promise can be a real challenge, especially since many of us have not spent quality, focused time in assessing what is really important to us. What are our the “glass balls” as opposed to the “rubber balls” in our lives? The glass balls are so critical for us to feel successful that we cannot drop them. If a mirror is broken, it can never be repaired to restore the original image; it will always be distorted. Rubber balls can be let loose and picked up later without a great loss. Making a decision on your glass balls is critical!

Many families, for example, decide that close attention to rearing their children is a major glass ball – we don’t get a second chance at this. Keeping our health is certainly a critical glass ball. As clients go through the CDA Career Enhancement Process, they bring to the surface the factors that they know are deeply important and they list them. These “glass balls” become their “Success Criteria” – what they must have to feel good about themselves in their work lives.

Our Success Criteria make up our individualized bedrock, springing from our DNA fingerprint. They are not what society or someone else tells us we should want. The foundation of a house with its piers on bedrock can shift but it will not crack. So it is with our career. If you know and maintain your Success Criteria you can cut through the stress and chaos of our changing and shifting work world. Without this you cannot be in control of your work life. Believe me, if you aren’t in charge, no one is. We are now in the Yo Yo Career Model: You’re On Your Own! (Read more about the Yo Yo model.)

Some clients, especially males, will tell me that making a six-figure income is their first and only Success Criteria. Frequently this is because our society has geared them to think of success in terms of money and status only. As they work through some sound self-assessment this may move off their list entirely or certainly drop down on the list.

As you accumulate your Success Criteria, write out specific examples of how you will know when you are achieving a particular criteria. These are some samples of the criteria I hear most from professionals.

Career Success Criteria Example

I tell all my clients that I want “meaning and money – purpose and profit”.

It is very important in the coming work world that we become the entrepreneurs of our own careers. We must be in charge. Developing the list of Success Criteria is basic to that goal. If we can’t name or put words to these, we can get them only by hit and miss – a risky way to live your work life.

So sit down and list your Success Criteria, your glass balls, and define how you will know when you get them. This criteria will become your written prescription for your present and future jobs.

Download the Success Criteria form!

View my Success Criteria.

Excerpted from Capitalizing on Career Chaos: Bringing Creativity and Purpose to Your Work and Life. Order your copy today.