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What are your personal career success standards?

It’s been said so much that it’s rather cliché now, that money doesn’t lead to happiness. While I agree with that sentiment, I can’t help but think that money does lead to options, which in turn lead to a type of happiness, albeit temporary. As I progress in my career—being in the professional sphere for just over ten years—I’ve changed my definition of career success. Even what I thought were non-negotiable standards changed early in my career. For me, personally, I’m not where I had intended to be at this stage in my career. I’ve put forth effort repeatedly to get where I want to be. Though, I’m not there. Call it serendipity, the providence of a higher power, or what have you—but the fact remains I’m not there. What about you? What are your personal career success standards? Is it a monetary goal? How much? Is it a purpose goal? What purpose? Is it a status goal? What status?


Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

I think it's wise to have career aspirations and goals set for yourself. I always did. In five years I want to making X. I think it's also imperative to reassess as it sounds like you are. Three years into that target, is it still obtainable and if not what now. Can you switch jobs for a more aggressive salary? What would you be sacrificing to get that higher salary/status?

Up until about a year ago, I would have told you I was going for gold and I would put in as many hours as needed to get there. Things change as you evaluate your life and what's important in it, to your point; happiness. I no longer want money and status to define me, I want the peoples lives I impact along the way and the time I spend with loved ones to matter.

When I am lying on my death bed, it will no longer matter how much money I made or how many hours I put in every day. Set goals, evaluate those goals often and if they are not obtainable in your current position, status or structure you will need to decide what course of action to take. Most importantly, make the most of whatever you do; you only get to do this once and don't be afraid to take risks.

Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

Christie - Thank you so much for your answer and transparency. Those are excellent questions for people to ask themselves too.

My favorite question is what are you willing to sacrifice.

If we answer that honestly, there's a good chance that it will scare us into changing our mind. It did me at least. Being close to family is a big reason I don't want to move to a larger city such as anywhere in New York, or anywhere in California. It's a sacrifice I'm will to not make for the sake of my career.

Ross Anderson, CPA, MBA
Title: Controller
Company: TFS Capital
(Controller, TFS Capital) |

Leave your mark on everything you do and every organization you touch.

Ernie Humphrey CTP
Title: CEO & COO
Company: Treasury Webinars
LinkedIn Profile
(CEO & COO, Treasury Webinars) |

You need to define what success means to you and be willing to have that evolve as opportunities and life impact your circumstances.

Here is what I know:

Success is not (and does not):

A Thing – it is yours to define. Define it for yourself, reach it, redefine it often, be happy when you reach it, enjoy each journey to it, be proud of how you got there, and let it enrich and not define your happiness (because if you “get it” you will be chasing different versions of it your entire life).

Define You– it may be where you aspire to be, however, not “being there” does not define what you have (or can be) accomplished in your life.

A 4.0, or a Degree from any Institution— Those are accomplishments, and they may well open doors for you, but in today’s world you need to knock down doors and/or build your own doors along the path to realizing your dreams.

Money— this one seems obvious, but many people still see it as the ultimate goal. Money can help you open doors for yourself and others, but it does not define success.

A Job Title— there are many CEOs and Ph.Ds, Surgeons, Lawyers, Actors, etc. who, quite frankly, are idiots, and unhappy, and make others unhappy on a daily basis.

Being a CEO or Billionaire by 25— if that happens for you good for you, buy a lottery ticket. What are you going to do with the rest of your life? The 99.99999% of the other people for whom this does not happen, how do you allow not meeting this goal impact you? This is not a failure.

Being “Better” than Someone Else— you should worry about your own success, and not define your success and self-worth relative to someone else. Yes, someone else’s achievements can motivate you, but they should not define you in any way.

Easy– no matter you define it, it takes work. If it does not, then it is time to redefine your definition of success.

A Solo Journey– you will need help, so do not be afraid to ask for it.

Achieved without Failure– anything worth achieving will involve failures along the way

Randy Moore
Title: CFO
Company: SJB Bagel Makers
(CFO, SJB Bagel Makers) |

Be an inspiration to others.

Mark Matheny
Title: VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis
Company: Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)
(VP - FInancial Planning and Analysis, Novolex (formerly Hilex Poly)) |

This will likely be even more cliché, but I want to come home every night knowing I did what was best for the company that day. The doesn't always mean that I blindly followed directions if I thought a case could be made for a better way. It also doesn't always mean that what I accomplished was in the best interest of my compensation or career. It also means realizing the you have made mistakes and making sure you learn from them and correct behaviors accordingly.

Bryan Fritz
Title: Taoist Finance Officer
Company: Business Consultant
LinkedIn Profile
(Taoist Finance Officer, Business Consultant) |

This is kind of a funny question to me, because I have struggled with it my entire life. It leads to the ultimate question, what is the point of life? Since none of us know the answer it is kind of freeing, because since we do not know we get to make up our own meaning. Based on whatever you feel that purpose is will define success for you. That said, there is no wrong answer to this question. However, since we all believe different things we can never completely agree on what success is.

Anders Liu-Lindberg
Title: Regional Finance Business Partner
Company: Maersk Line Northern Europe
LinkedIn Profile
(Regional Finance Business Partner, Maersk Line Northern Europe) |

I would say I'm around where I want to be, but some mistakes early on in my career set me back a little bit. I think you can have a long term ambition about where you want to land in the latter stages of your professional life, but rather you need to have a plan for the short to mid-term. If you can keep realizing your short to mid-term plans you should eventually land there or there about where you ambition is.

6 years ago I was a financial controller and made a plan to get closer to the business and, later on, take a job abroad. I got to do both as I became a business controller and afterwards a finance manager in the USA. My next ambition was to go into the business and/or work more with leadership. In my current role, I'm sort of halfway there on both so my next role needs to nail one of these.

You can always dream big but focus on the next 1-2-3 steps. You will find that it's very difficult to plan anyway.


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