Some people measure professional success according to which rung of the corporate ladder they’re currently standing on. What’s my title this year? How many people are above me? How many people are below me? What do the others have that I don’t have? A constant comparison and never ending race to…well, to where exactly? To the top? And then what comes next?
When you’re self-employed, there’s no one to compare yourself against. There’s no corporate ladder to climb. No performance bonuses, no annual reviews, no incrementally increasing vacation days or other perquisites held aloft like giant carrots on an impossibly long stick.
Throughout the course of my career, I’ve been a lawyer, a web designer, a business analyst, a project leader, a project manager, a writer, a business owner, a CEO, a failure, a success.
I measure success not by titles or salary bumps, but by a few intrinsic indicators. Am I still free to make my own choices? Am I compelled to slave away working on someone else’s dream, or do I have the passion, resolve, and freedom to continue to pursue my own? Am I able to deliver what I said I could deliver?
One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned over the years is that a clear understanding of who you are professionally lays the foundation for success. Understanding very clearly not only what you can do, but also what you enjoy doing. That’s at the heart of defining success, at least for me.
[quote]Success isn’t always defined by dollar signs or fancy titles.[/quote]
Having the freedom to choose – to turn down work that I’m capable of doing but don’t enjoy, so that I can choose to do the work I love – is what drives me forward. It’s what motivates me every morning, year after year. When you really think about it, what motivates you?