Defining Success

"Originally published on Economic Times - The Times of India"

If you're dependent on external markers to judge whether your career is successful, you will find them, but only in some realms and on certain dimensions of achievement. If you pay attention to only this limited set of success indicators, you are less likely to experience your career as successful.

Imagine going to a sumptuous buffet dinner, but only tasting the salad. It won't be satisfying.

Visible, objectively measurable achievements such as sales results, salary, bonuses and promotions are forms of career success that we tend to fixate on —sometimes to the point of overlooking other aspects just as valuable. It's important to consider both objective and subjective markers of success.

The perceptions and feelings we have about our work experiences and what we achieve affect us as much as the extrinsic rewards do. Consider the fact that there are plenty of people who look successful, who hold high-level positions and earn impressive salaries, yet who feel unfulfilled in their careers.

You can feel success when you accomplish your own goals, when you develop greater understanding of a problem and perceive a solution, or when you express your identity or values through your work. Research shows that such subjective and relational experiences contribute enormously to assessments of career success.