Is a successful career all about the money? How about prestige and recognition from your peer group? Those things are definitely key factors, but most professionals agree that being proud of their career is what matters most when all is said and done.
To build a career that you can look back on with pride, you need a vision, a passion, and strict principles that guide you through the many twists and turns to come.
Here is some advice from successful business professionals on achieving this all-important goal.
The power of passion
It’s the word we hear time and again – passion is what propels us forward in life, and it’s key to a fulfilling career.
“Entrepreneurship was a passion of mine that I found early on in life and am willing to dig deep and put in the work. I love knowing that I built something entirely from the ground up. That is what I take my pride in. Find your true passion whether that be in entrepreneurship, corporate, non-profit, tech, health/fitness, whatever. Find it for yourself, and you will make something of it if you enjoy it enough and work on it.” – Jason Wong, Founder of Doe Lashes.
“Work and career can be enjoyable when you find the correct line of work. You should have fun in your day. That is my tip to building a career I am proud of. Did I enjoy the work I did, did I give it my all daily, and did I have fun? That is how I measure success. Work should be fun a majority of the time.” – Bari Medgaus, COO of Stabili-Teeth.
“To build a career you are proud of, you have to feel a passion for what you do, but it all must be backed with a solid foundation and strategic planning. Often, we hear the term ‘passion project,’ which does have an appealing ring. However, to ensure the best outcome, harness that passion to encourage a strong business plan, including innovative ways to brand your company, create a positive image, and become both visible and relevant to your target audience and beyond.” – Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB Sports.
“Building a career takes time and dedication. Find a path that you want to pursue, not every job is going to be your career, so don’t be afraid to change jobs. Finding the right career needs patience, it is okay to not fall into it right away. Figure out your passions and where you want to place your energy within the workspace.” – Derin Oyekan, Co-Founder of Reel Paper.
Set your own standards
Not all of us have the same goals in life. Establish your own definition of success and strive for the ideals that matter most to you.
“(Success) doesn't have to look like everyone else's brand of success, as long as (you are) fulfilled and can make a contribution to others.” – Career Strategist and Author Tamara Raymond.
“In the health and fitness industry, you have to have dedication in order to be successful and proud of your work. Dedication and success is measured differently by everyone though. If you set your goals and meet them, then you are successful in your career within this industry. You set the pace, you set your goals. Success is what you make of it.” – Guy Bar, Founder of Hygear.
“Many people believe money to be the greatest indicator of achievement and success, but I think you need to think a few steps further to really have a fulfilling career and not just chase the dollar. How much money do you want versus how much do you need, and what tradeoffs are you willing to make? These are the tough questions to ask, but all-important to answer, no matter what your career pursuits may be.” – Lindsay McCormick, Founder and CEO of Bite.
“It’s so important to set your own parameters for success and not let others dictate what is best for you. That’s how so many people get demoralized in our world – they aren’t true to themselves. It sounds cliché, but you really need to define success for yourself and be immune to the noise around you as you navigate your career.” – James Ville, Chief Product Officer of GunSkins.
Actions > words
In the world of business, actions are far more important than words. To have a fulfilling career and lead a meaningful life, you’ve got to be action-oriented from the jump.
“I am sure that if you talk to different entrepreneurs and leaders, their advice will all be unique, but all will agree that it takes focus to build a career you are proud of. It is not something that happens overnight. You need to focus on your goals and objectives, and chip away at them every day. It is a day in and day out kind of thing. That is how you build a successful career to be proud of.” – Kiran Gollakota, Co-Founder of Waltham Clinic.
“Our modern world is all about shortcuts and quick solutions, but that’s never the answer when building a career you love. Commit to taking action every day to make your vision come to life, and even when you hit that initial goal, keep going. The grind never ends, and if you love what you do, you wouldn’t have it any other way.” – Courtney Buhler, CEO and Founder of Sugarlash Pro.
“There is nothing more satisfying than mapping out a game plan and putting your best effort forward every single day. Even if things don’t work out exactly as you imagined, you still have the satisfaction of knowing you gave it your all. That’s what career satisfaction is all about.” – Chris Riley, Founder and CEO of USA Rx.
“You don’t need to rapidly climb the corporate ladder to have a career you can be proud of, but you do need to make incremental improvements each day and avoid stagnating for too long. Keep increasing the challenge and sharpening your skills – that way you’ll never get bored and you’ll rise to the top of your profession naturally.” – Lauren Kleinman, Co-Founder of The Quality Edit.
Discomfort, risk, and failure
The big three of entrepreneurship that nobody likes to talk about. However, they’re vital to a fulfilling and successful career, so be ready to encounter them on your path.
“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” – Psychologist M. Scott Peck.
“It’s not a question of if you’ll fail along the way – that’s going to happen countless times. The real question is how you’ll respond to that failure and build yourself back up to go after your goals once again. That’s where true career satisfaction lies – when you learn to just keep going.” – Lori Price, Co-Founder of PixieLane.
“What are you willing to risk to achieve your dream career? To attain the best things in life, you can’t necessarily ‘play it safe’. Learn to deal with risk and trust that you’ll be able to perform in spite of the odds and challenges you face. It takes some faith and grit, but the rewards are great.” – Michael Jankie, Founder of Natural Patch.
“If you reflect on your career and can’t recall any failures or setbacks, where’s the satisfaction in that? If anything, it shows you didn’t try hard enough or live up to your potential. Fear and failure are just a package deal when it comes to career fulfillment, so learn to deal with those things and push forward regardless.” – Jeff Meeks, VP of Sales and Marketing at EnergyFit.
The long haul
A career can last 30, 40 years, or more. You better be ready for the long road ahead and have the right mindset to endure the challenges along the way.
“When you look back on your life, you want to be proud of what you accomplished and be able to share that feeling of fulfillment with your family and friends. That should be at the core of your career choices and entrepreneurial goals. Instead of chasing trends and short-term solutions, consider what matters most over a longer time horizon.” – Marc Atiyeh, CEO of Pawp.
“Prepare for a long road ahead and find the balance you need to pursue your goals in a sustainable way. Recognize that every ‘overnight success’ was made possible by years and years of sustained effort and continued refinement. It’s okay to ‘sprint’ on deadlines every now and then, but it’s wiser to treat your career as a marathon and try to enjoy the journey.” – Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder of Audien Hearing.
“Building a career is usually a team effort. There are peers, mentors, and leaders to learn from in your professional life. Utilize these connections to build on their advice and implement it into your own career. That is how you can help build a career you will be proud of, it is good to ask for assistance. Leaders are never alone, especially when building a career.” – Olivia Young, Product Manager at Conscious Items.
“To build a career you are proud of can be a long journey. You have to have the right motivation and the right mindset. Find a career that you see longevity in, and place goals to grow with the company. A career also leads to leadership opportunities, so learn early on how to be a great leader.” – Eric Gist, CEO of Awesome OS.
“The company you build will be your legacy, in many ways – take pride in every aspect of the business and own it 100%! Even if you end up selling or exiting somehow, you can always look back on that company with pride and let it be a source of joy and inspiration forever. That’s so much more meaningful than a run-of-the-mill career.” – Nancy Belcher, CEO of Winona.
There’s no master key to unlocking a fulfilling career that makes you proud, but these bits of wisdom from business leaders should give you an idea of what to strive for in all your pursuits of work and life.