If your career success were represented as a target, what would you label the bullseye? How much money you made? The degree of status you achieved? The depth of expertise in your discipline? The complex problems you solved? The number and quality of relationships you formed?
I would make a case that your sense of fulfillment is the core of a successful career. In the end, you want to be proud of how you spent your time and effort. To get there, you have to answer a certain question over and over again throughout your days. It doesn’t remain answered and continues to present itself.
The question is this: What do you want to do?
The first time you have to face the question is in high school and college to guide what you study. It surfaces again when you choose your first job and again as you narrow your career focus about what, where and with whom to develop your career. Wherever you are now is a result of the choices you made.
While the question is the same, it resurfaces over again but at deeper levels, like honing in on the bullseye of a target. Early on, you make choices about what to do. From there, you determine how you want to practice what you enjoy. Then you face the question regarding what role you want to play. Technical? Managing clients and their work? Developing new opportunities? Leading others to success?
Regardless of your choices, they are yours to make and to own. Just be sure that that you are careful (full of care) by avoiding these three “don’ts:”
Don’t be seduced into believing that one option is better than another.
Don’t allow someone to make the decision for you.
Don’t compromise what is really important to you.
Make a quick assessment of how you’re doing: Are you having fun? Enjoying the challenge? Making progress? Feeling proud? Remember—it’s yours to own by the choices you make.