5 Measures of Success That Actually Matter

Whether you’re feeling content in your current employment or investment situation or not, do you know how to measure true success? Most people tend to measure success in career purely by income, benefits, and promotions. They might factor in things like personal satisfaction and happiness.

And while it’s all well and good to think about the physical income as a measure of success in your career (after all, you’ve got to make that money!), I’ve found through the years that it’s not all there is. How many of us have heard stories about miserable executives?

These are people who, by all outward appearances, seem to have it all. They have the money, the house, the job, the prestige. But then it comes out that they’re actually discontent with it all, if not downright miserable.

That is such a tragedy. How to you avoid ending up in that position? How do you ensure that the rat race isn’t all there ever is?

You start with the right measures of success. If you can say “yes” to these five statements, then you are truly successful. If not, you have a ways to go...and maybe you need to course correct!

5 Measures of Success for True Career Fulfillment

1) I Control My Future

No one 100% controls their future. There are always going to be some factors that will be out of your hands. But what this statement means is that you aren’t afraid that someone is going to swoop in and take what you have from you.

You don’t live in fear that one wrong move and you’re going to lose your job, your investments, or your life’s savings. You’ve managed your money well, you in a career or position where you are either a) in charge or b) difficult to replace and, if you have a boss, telling them something they may not like isn’t going to cost you your job.

Controlling your future isn’t about having everything go your way all the time. But it is about not feeling anxiety or helplessness when you look towards the future. You should feel optimism and agency over the direction that you’re headed!

2) I Allow Myself to Dream Big

On the same note as the future, are you doing next-level thinking, or are you stuck? Even if your plans will take time, one measure of success is your ability to dream big. Being realistic is good, but there’s nothing wrong with having ambition. You should want the best. You should strive to be the best.

You know you’ve made it when you can chase after the things that most people would never even consider. When vision you have for your life is attainable in your mind—maybe not immediately, but possible—you have success. So much of success is a mindset.

3) My Self-Worth Isn’t Defined By My Career

A common crisis that people (particularly men) have in our society is that they place their identity in their careers. We define ourselves by what we do rather than who we are.

"Hi, I’m Chris, and I…"

Well, the example doesn’t really work when you wear a lot of different hats.

But still, psychologists find that men overwhelmingly see unemployment as a defeat. Middle-aged men in the “mid-life crisis” feel lost, alone, and worthless—and despite jokes about buying motorcycles and leather jackets, it’s no laughing matter.

Success comes when you are content with yourself. Not just career. You haven’t placed your self-worth in a job, or in money, or in status. It’s not in something you could lose.

4) I Am Not Alone

There are plenty of people who appear outwardly successful who are in fact miserable because they have allowed their personal relationships to go by the wayside in the process. Maybe they neglected their families (or never stopped long enough to develop meaningful relationships in the first place), or they burned too many bridges to get where they are.

Truly successful people weigh the cost: they know that power and money are never worth ruining their relationships with friends and family.

What is success if you don’t have someone to share it with? Or if you are a stranger to the people who you would want to share it with?

Truly successful people weigh the cost: they know that power and money are never worth ruining their relationships with friends and family. Sacrifice might be necessary at times, but a lifetime or long hours and missed memories are not worth the arbitrary definitions of success.

5) I Enjoy What I Do More Often Than Not

Do you actually enjoy what you do? If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us don’t love our jobs 365 days of the year. And that’s perfectly okay! But successful people don’t hate their jobs. They don’t wake up on Monday morning dreading what’s to come. They tackle their tasks with purpose, even if their feelings might fluctuate from time to time.

Do you believe in what you’re doing?

Whether you’re working a traditional job, working freelance, or investing in real estate, it’s important that you find some joy and meaning in what you do. Find a real goal for yourself that isn’t just earning a paycheck.

You’ll be much happier—and successful—for it.

What are your personal measures of success? Share them in the comments.