Regardless of industry, most of us enter the workforce with a few basic goals and aspirations: career satisfaction, financial independence and a steady paycheck.
As time goes on and time-cards get punched, however, it becomes apparent that the source of real job satisfaction runs much deeper. The true test of a well-crafted career is the amount of pride and enthusiasm with which you begin and end each day — being proud of where you’ve come from, what you’ve achieved and where you’re headed.
While every job has its ups and downs, your overall level of happiness with your career choices is readily apparent when faced with the question, “So, what do you do for a living?” Do you answer this question with pride?
Here are a few tips on developing a career worth some serious bragging rights.
1. Don’t Take a Job You Don’t Like (or Stay at a Job You Hate)
Yes, you need to pay the rent, and yes, you need to fill up your gas tank. But that doesn’t mean that you need to take any ‘ol job that comes your way — especially if it’s one that you know from the get-go doesn’t fit with your long-term goals, or even match up with any of your interests.
Though it is often easier said than done, try to consider the long run when on the job hunt or when making a career change. Keep in mind that sometimes you might need to take a step back — or even sideways — in order to ultimately reach your goals. There is almost always another option available rather than staying at a job that makes you miserable — even if it means taking a temporary pay cut. Whenever possible, find a position that aligns with your overall career aspirations.
2. Exit Each Job Gracefully
Let’s say you had an overly micromanaging boss who made every day at your previous job difficult and stressful. When you land a new position, you might be tempted to bid your colleagues (and your oppressive boss) a not-so-fond farewell.
The better option is to be civil and, above all, professional. You never know who your former boss knows — and not having a proper (or graceful) exit strategy may negatively affect your future career. Learn to enter a new position with gratitude and humility and exit in the same manner — this practice can positively impact your career and, ultimately, your life.
3. Find a Mentor
You may have a vague idea of how you would like your career to flow, but getting from one job to the next can be tricky without some form of guidance. You’ll discover that as your career progresses and takes its own twists and turns, you may need various mentors along the way. Learning from those who have journeyed down a similar path can offer you comfort when you’re faced with tough decisions or new responsibilities.
4. Pursue Your Passion
You may have accumulated numerous accolades over the course of your career, but they won’t hold significant value unless you’re doing something that you love and find fulfilling. Taking risks and chasing a dream can often become highlights of a previously ho-hum career; and these types of challenges might inspire you to take more chances in the future.
5. Be Memorable
For years, you’ve shown up for work day-in and day-out. You dutifully do your job, and you make an effort to be pleasant and punctual. You’re a good worker; but are you memorable? Do you make your coworkers laugh during stressful budget meetings? Do you come up with big ideas that could help save your department oodles of cash? Being a valuable employee who is remembered long after she has left the company is one indicator of success.
Over the course of your career, you’ll inevitably have moments that will cause you to take pause and reflect on everything that you’ve accomplished. By being smart and intuitive, and by following your heart, gut and long-term goals, you’re more likely to find yourself on a career path that fills you with pride.