What does a successful career look like?


If you could time travel 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years into the future and write a short story about your successful career, what would you like that story to say? Would you measure your success in terms of your financial rewards, or would you describe important environmental policies that you helped to develop and implement? Would you talk about your work in government and/or non-government organizations and how you made substantial contributions to protecting the environment or helping industries operate in an environmentally safe way? Would you talk about how you started a successful consulting business or industry which provided jobs and helped the economy? Would your focus on your family life and success outside of work and the great people that you worked with?

To answer that question I usually start by imagining myself at various points in the future, say six months, or 10, 25 and even 40 years in the future.  What will I be? What will make me happy and successful?  No one but you can answer these questions.  To get you started here are some things you might want to be:

  • rich and famous;
  • a recognized and highly respected expert in my field;
  • owner of my own consulting firm;
  • Vice President of Environmental Compliance at well-known, international industrial company;
  • Working in a secure positon with good opportunities for advancement;
  • Married with a good, secure job and a great work-life balance;
  • Retired at age 55 and travelling the world.

This is important!  Imagine yourself as what you want to be.  There are no rules or restrictions – if a genie granted you a career wish, what would it be?  Many who try this exercise end up with easily achievable goals.  Try to think big. Think ‘out of the box’.  It will help to imagine yourself at the end of your career some 40 or 50 years in the future.

As you start to ponder and answer these question write down what you find and describe what your life and career iwill be like at various times. Put in as much detail as you can.  Have fun with this exercise and imagine your perfect future.

Next time I will write a career vision for a fictional character, lets call her Jill.  Talk to you soon.