At any stage of your career, you may not advance as quickly as you hope or get the quantity or quality of feedback that you seek. You will have days when you feel like a failure or unappreciated. You may not have a clear path forward or a specific goal you are pursuing, or perhaps you reach a plateau and begin to feel restless. These experiences can put you at risk of becoming demotivated, discouraged, or burned out. Instead, take charge of your own development and satisfaction by devising your own success metrics against which you can regularly evaluate your own progress. You may find that defining your own vision of success can significantly shift your attitude and your experience. Take Anya (pseudonym), a partner in a global personal services firm who was feeling frustrated and anxious that some of her peers were advancing faster than she was. But when she applied her own metrics: autonomy, flexibility, stability, financial security and relationships, she realized that she was in fact getting her most important needs met, and her perspective on her career changed. Or Viktor, an entrepreneur who was starting a company with a high potential for failure—he designed his own success metrics: learning and fun.
Taking charge requires you to step back and identify the elements that contribute to your success and fulfillment and devise a way to measure and track them.
- Values. Start with values – what is important to you? Think holistically and don’t just limit yourself to traditional professional goals like advancement, recognition, and responsibility. You might value learning, collaboration, challenge, making a difference, building relationships, having fun, setting healthy boundaries, being able to have a life outside or work, or other qualities that bring you satisfaction and meaning.
- Metrics. Based on your values, identify 5-6 metrics against which you can measure, establish a rating system and create a chart or spreadsheet. You can use a rating scale of 1-5. “How much did I learn this month?” or “How much fun did I have this week?” Or perhaps you want to set a hard target related to a goal and track it. For example, if you value relationships you might track how many colleagues you reached out to or how many times you got together with friends. Or you could be playful and do what my kid’s elementary teachers did: make a sticker chart! Whatever works for you.
- Reflection. Establish a regular cadence for reviewing progress. If you see any area lagging, identify actions that you can take to improve it and consider seeking support or feedback from your manager or co-workers. Where you see high marks, acknowledge your success! Where appropriate, how can you make sure your boss sees your progress?
This practice will benefit you in numerous ways:
- Take charge. Establishing your own success metrics based on your values puts you in the drivers’ seat of your career, providing guidance on how to make the most of your work experience, holistically.
- Engage your manager. You can proactively share many of your goals with your manager to help them support your development and better understand what opportunities you are looking for.
- Increase self-awareness. Even if your colleagues or boss do not provide feedback, creating and checking in with your own success metrics helps you develop self-awareness and self-direction.
- Boost positivity. Taking the time to step back and reflect on what’s going right, to appreciate wins and recognize learning builds positivity (similar to a gratitude practice).
- Build resilience. Taking a proactive stance toward your success and development increases self-efficacy and fosters a positive growth mindset to help you learn from and contextualize your failures and challenge, both of which in turn build your resilience.
- Prevent burnout. Monitoring your own progress and satisfaction creates an “early warning system” to detect if you are at risk for burnout and allows you to course-correct.
Try it! Buddy up with a friend or co-worker and support each other in this practice. Keep it ups for at least two months and see what happens.