What Does Career Success Mean & How Do You Achieve It?

THE WORD SUCCESS is defined as having achieved a purpose or goal. Conversely, career success would then have to mean that one has indeed accomplished their goals in their chosen field. However, despite this simple definition, there are still too many “gray” areas to consider this mini-controversy over and done with.

One of the things that are problematic with above is that success comes at different levels and therefore it’s too difficult to ascertain what level or plateau has to be achieved before you are deemed to be a success or successful. It also has to be decided who determines and what factors go into this.

In the case of career success, it would appear that the precise meaning is different to each individual. For instance is it your expected or desired income being achieved that would award you that tag? Is it the prestige of your title or perhaps a combination of the two?

Perhaps to get a better handle on this issue it might be prudent to look at the process that one must go through in order to obtain that final stamp. Aside from the obvious step one of deciding on a career, you must delve deeply into the workings of your chosen field to see who has done what and where did they end up.

Your next step is to plan a course that is compatible with what your career would dictate. Putting in your own intuitiveness is a very constructive thing to do providing it does not take you into uncharted waters. If you chose to disregard this be prepared to accept whatever the consequences may be.

To conclude this part of the discussion as to how you achieve career success I will leave off with the fact there are no shortcuts to take or ways around the process. Mentally priming yourself to the point that you can and will overcome the obstacles that invariably present themselves at the most inopportune moments.

Having utilized a career GPS (for lack of better terminology) you finally pull into yourself- predetermined parking spot at that point technically you can consider yourself as having achieved career success.

If you were a poker player would you then “stand” with the deck of cards that gave you your winnings or would elect to go for more? The analogy I am making here is you have gotten to where you want to go are you now content to be “there” or can you get to a higher “there”?

It is the opinion of this writer that no one factor determines if you have as I previously stated achieved career success. In my own personal estimation, there is not just one meaning to the word success as it relates to careers.

For every start, there is an end. If where you ended up is a place you always dreamt of being you should now look in a mirror give yourself a pat on the back and say (out loud if you wish even if there is no one around to hear you) I am a success. Then and only then have you defined what success means.


Joel Elveson
Joel Elveson
INDEPENDENT Executive Recruiting By Joel is an "up and coming" Executive Search Firm formed and headed up by Joel Elveson whose visionary ideas, leadership & creativity have brought to life a more "user-friendly" approach to recruiting. His clients and candidates form powerful strategic partnerships that we use to help you. Joel’s Firm offers Permanent, Temporary (case by case), & Temporary To Permanent staffing solutions for all of your Human Capital Requirements. Contract IT/Consultants are available if needed. Above and beyond they are experts (by way of their personal industry work experience) with mortgage, mortgage banking, middle-market banking, accounting, along with many others under the vast financial spectrum of disciplines. Their business goes beyond candidate recruiting as they also train, mentor and develop your internal recruiting staff with an eye towards helping you reduce the cost of hiring. They will also work in areas such as compensation, effective onboarding processes and alike. In other words, their business is to help your business by becoming an extension of you by filling in gaps that cause delay or waste. The recruiting methods employed by Joel’s team are time tested that results in a high rate of successful placements. Joel was trained in the art of recruiting by some of the top staffing industry executives in addition to the best recruiter trainers who to this day drive me to exceed the lofty goals he has set forth.

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  1. My dear friend Joel When I look in the mirror I see someone blessed to have friends Like you. We write our stories and listen to our songs and in the last days we walked down a dirt road laughing at our folly… Yet thankful for the times we found laughter, and people to call friends. Great article my friend.

    • Larry, music is a constant in my life It gives me the impetus to keep going. If the two of us ever got to together just think of all the trouble we could get ourselves into while weaving our path down that dusty road. What I wouldn’t give to spend a day with you. Thank you for all of your support and not to mention all of your stories that are so captivating to me.

  2. The definition of career success varies from person to person. For me, it’s a kind of job satisfaction. Let me tell you one thing that- the career success starts with the sharpness of determination and prescription. So, if you are positive and confident, then it will be quite easier for you to hit a clear and unblurred target. By taking the initiative, being prepared to learn, expecting the requirements, setting goals, gaining trust, finding solutions, being an old softie, you can excel in your career. I think the role of a career coach will be vital in the attainment of your career ambitions. So, be a part of career coaching program- , to make the transition successful and attain a fulfilling career.

  3. Happiness with ones career is the key to success for that career. When you understand the metrics for your happiness — it is easy to gauge your success. Problem is that not many know what makes them happy so they blindly look to others for the answer. They’re happy doing this — so if I do it, I’ll be happy too. Though rationally this is ridiculous logic, emotionally it makes way too much sense.

    • Chris, Thank you for your comments. Happiness or enjoyment of what you do for a living is a key barometer to measuring success. I agree with you in that many people do not honestly know what makes them happy Some think it is a wealth of money even though that does not really make a difference. Nobody can definitively tell you what makes you happy or would make you happy. Being in a strong, stable, and loving relationship may very well change one’s outlook for success. I hope all is well with you Chris as I rarely get comments from you anymore.

  4. Joel, great thoughts. It’s so easy to let someone else define our success, but then it becomes meaningless. I think we should also forget the idea that there’s some “final success” instead of a series of positive steps over a lifetime. Thanks!!

    • Carol, Thank you for your kind words. People often tend to think that there is “final success.” As we go through life we are always learning even if we choose not to acknowledge that fact. In picking up new knowledge or skills it can be to some a daunting challenge to understand what they have just learned. This leads to the thought process that draws the conclusion there is some type of “final success.” We are all students of life and such there will always be new successes in our life. It was a pleasure reading your comments and look forward to your future comments. All the best.

  5. Joel, for me there are three take away lessons in your article.

    *Only you can say whether or not you have had career success;
    *There are no short cuts. Hard work, long hours, and consistency are essential. Those that want it all now because they are entitled are in for a lot of disappointments; and
    *Career goals are not a fixed target. Goals are likely to change as various levels of success are achieved and as outside events and opportunities present themselves.

    • Ken,
      Career success is devoid of shortcuts. Instant success is often short lived. How your success has held up over time is another litmus test as to whether or not you have succeeded. However, I agree with you wholeheartedly that you are the final judge when comes to determining if you have succeeded or not. Thank you for taking the time to read my article in addition to posting your comment.