Recognize your career successes

We are largely driven to enhance our careers by the need to feel successful. The urge to link our efforts with purposeful outcomes is a primal motivator for the professional person. The desire to make a difference for others and ourselves gets us up in the morning. Capturing success may be frequently elusive, but it’s a goal most of think is worth pursuing.In today’s world, being successful implies there is continual growth and improvement. Some professionals are fortunate to find they have chosen a job that allows for and even rewards career evolution. New, novel and stimulating challenges are always being presented, which provide opportunities for repeat successes. These people are happy with their jobs. They don’t want or need to enter a job search. They feel successful where they are.But for many others, the ring of achievement is not sounding at their jobs, or at least not enough. This group feels stuck. For them, work isn’t offering enough pay-off. Boredom and too much routine have set in. And these people are just as professional and talented as the above group. So what’s going on? It’s called reaching a plateau.Here is a very typical scenario. We finish our formal education and get a job, or series of jobs, which may or may not be related to what we studied in school. Eventually we settle into a “decent enough” job. The salary is OK, co-workers become friends, and we start experiencing our first professional successes. We feel grown-up; we’ve arrived.But give it five or 10 years and the dull weight of a been-there-done-that attitude takes hold. Work weeks start to feel too long and weekends too short. Frequent funks and a sense of stagnation start to become the norm. Inertia now seems to guide us more than the exciting quest for work gain.Defining successThis becomes the time to strongly consider a career defibrillator. You need to get back to feeling worthy. Now you could look for a job change, or redefine your role with your current employer, or you could go entrepreneurial. Whichever route you take to rekindle career happiness, it will involve enlisting one fundamental practice to place you in the most advantageous position to reach this goal – that is, to determine clearly and be able to communicate effectively what success means to you and how in the past you have gone about attaining it.When you’re able to identify your unique success metrics, you are then able to make claim to your professional value. You can cite contributions that have benefited others. With this self-realization you know what ball to keep your eye on. It becomes easier to envision yourself in situations in which you can practice your craft and again be successful.So how do you measure success for yourself? Here is an exercise for distilling career success and happiness into practical and powerful statements that can be used as guides for future work. This is a way to promote yourself to those who may be able to provide opportunities for future successes.Begin compiling a record of your greatest hits. List the achievements of which you are most proud. Have these statements contain actual, and if possible, quantifiable results. Look for the ways you found remedies to problems, resolved issues, mediated conflicts, assisted in growth, created novel solutions, improved efficiencies, and so on. For example:• “Created systematic process for client interactions, deal flow and follow-up.”• “Grew occupancy from 67 percent to 88 percent. Steadily increased average guest satisfaction to 99 percent.”• “10+ years of administrative, volunteer and team experience in the coordination and implementation of educational, nonprofit and community service projects.”With this valuable insight organized in your mind and on paper you are then prepared to chart a course for continuing career fulfillment.And when your work is successful, your life is greatly enhanced.Bill Ryan, founder of Ryan Career Services LLC, Concord, also is a regular blogger on NHBR Network. He can be reached at 603-724-2289