Career Success: It’s About More Than Money

career success

If you’re reading this, you probably have a job. You’re making enough money to put food on the table, and you might even own a car that’s under 10 years old. All that is great, but is it really what defines career success these days?

In the past, the answer to that question has been yes. The generations before us lived in a world where providing for your family was the primary goal, and that was the basically the only reason you had a job. If you couldn’t do that, or if you were just scraping by, you were a failure. But our world is becoming an increasingly diverse place, growing away from “traditional” work habits. And along with that has come a change in the definition of success.

Millennials don’t just consider success to be a measurement of how much money they have. Of course, they still value money as a necessity for food, shelter and clothing, but many of the youngest segments of our workforce are starting to view money as a means to an end.

That means that Millennials have thrown another huge variable into the definition of success–fulfillment. They are becoming increasingly aware of how their jobs are helping or hurting those around them, and they are actively seeking out jobs that make a positive impact on the world; jobs that actually matter beyond a paycheck.

The Changing Definition of Career Success

If you asked your grandparents if they consider themselves successful, their answer would probably be based on these questions:

  • Did I make enough money to support my family and my retirement?
  • Did I raise children who have grown up to support their families and their retirement?

But if you asked a Millennial if they are successful, they would consider an entirely different set of questions:

  • Did my work make an impact on those around me?
  • Will what I do matter in ten years? Fifty years? One hundred years?
  • Would the world be worse off if I had chosen not to pursue this path?

Obviously there’s still the question of “Did I make enough money to put food on my plate?” But Millennials are also considering their responsibility as a global citizen. You can see this in Millennial start-ups. One study found that, “While entrepreneurs traditionally built their businesses and wealth first and considered philanthropy later, ‘millennipreneurs’ are thinking about their social impact early on.”

Despite all the allegations that Millennials are lazy, entitled, spoiled brats, I’d say their awareness of social responsibility disputes that claim.

If you’re unhappy in your job, consider how you would define career success in your own life? How can you use your skills to reach your goals?