Four Ways to Measure Success

We all want it for our children: success. But what does a successful life look like? It’s a question worth answering, because you can’t parent toward a specific target until you define what that target is. The answer may vary from family to family, and may combine a number of different factors. To help you zero in on the type of successes you want for yourself and your children, we’ve outlined these four common means to measure success.  Which one, or ones, will you use?

1.  Professional Achievement. Professional accolades are a quantifiable, universally accepted means of measuring achievement. For an attorney it may mean becoming a partner in the firm. For a professor it may mean becoming the department chair at the university. Whatever your field, moving up in the ranks is usually a sign of a job well done and a growing skill set. While this is typically tied to increasing financial gain, it isn’t always. For example, an artist can garner critical success without making a great deal of money.

2.  Financial Gain. In our consumer-oriented society, salary has become the total measure of success for some. With professional or business success, increasing income is to be expected, and is a welcome reward for all the hard work. However, some professionals warn that lucrative jobs that offer little to the worker besides a paycheck can leave one wanting.

3.  Personal Fulfillment. The sense of satisfaction that comes from doing something that you truly enjoy is key to feeling successful. For some, working in a job like teaching or social work is very fulfilling because of the relationships with students or clients, despite the relatively modest income those jobs provide. For a writer, the process of writing may bring more personal joy than major professional recognition or pay.

4.  Contribution to Society. If you feel like what you do actually matters at the end of the day, it can go a long way toward making your professional life work. The pastor serving the needs of a congregation may measure success, at least in part, by the lives impacted by his ministry. The non-profit professional who sees the good her agency does in the community may evaluate personal success on the same criteria. For many, staying true to core personal values in their working lives is a primary goal.

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