Five Things You Need to Have a Happy and Successful Career

Catherine Tabuena
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It’s widely believed that happiness breeds success. When you’re happy, you’ll do better at work. A study shows that happier workers perform better, have better relationships with co-workers, and are more satisfied with their work.

While there is no one-size-fits-all formula for career happiness and success, here are five tangible things you can do today in your job or career to make you happier and more successful.

1.Have a Career Plan or Life Vision

You plan a vacation, so why not plan your career?

Many employees have no plan to speak of other than to continue to be a rising star in their organization. Without a rock-solid plan, most people end up winging it.

Women, in particular, are less likely to plan their careers. A survey shows that more than 70 percent of American women operate without a career plan, and 40 percent are just improvising career decisions on the spot.

Making a career plan will help you be clear on the types of role, skills, and experiences you need and want, which will serve you well in achieving your goals.

Many career coaches advise creating a thorough five-year career plan. For a simpler version, you can use career plan templates as a guide to creating yours.

Sadly, crafting career plans don’t work for everybody.

Some experts argue that career planning doesn’t work and is a complete waste of time.

Leonard A. Schlesinger, a professor at Harvard Business School, says: “Instead of formulating the logically perfect ending job and the optimal path to getting there, begin with a direction, based on a real desire, and complement that with a strategy to discover and create opportunities consistent with that desire.”

Crafting a life vision is an alternative.

While it may seem frivolous to some, creating a compelling life vision is one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams.

2.Build Your Personal Brand

With the rise of the gig economy and social media, personal branding has become more important than ever.

When we think about branding, we usually think of big companies like Coca-Cola or celebrities. But don’t you know that you’re already a brand?

Your personal brand is really who you are, what you do, and how you do it. From the clothes you wear to which coffee brand you drink, everything you do is part of your personal brand or corporate image.

You don’t need to be a big-shot Fortune 500 CEO or Hollywood celebrity to create a personal brand. Every profession has its super successful celebrities.

So, how do you cultivate a personal brand?

The first step is not to be afraid of fame. When used to benefit yourself and others positively, fame can be a good thing.

Jay Jessup, publicist and co-author of Fame 101: Powerful Personal Branding & Publicity writes, “Fame is America’s most powerful force (sic) Professional fame can bring you money, security, access, power, credibility, freedom, and much more.”

Second, get clear about what you want to be known for. What are your strengths? What are your core areas of expertise? What do you want people to say about you when you’re not in the room?

Third, you MUST show your authentic self.

Everything you do must be in line with your strengths, purpose, and life vision. There is little value in cultivating a personal brand that is based on smoke and mirrors—people can easily see through phonies.

Finally, be patient. Cultivating a personal brand doesn’t happen overnight.

Take your brand as seriously as you do your career, and it will serve you well.

3.Get a Mentor

Mentors are people you go for advice, knowledge transfer, skills sharing, and troubleshooting. Seeking advice from someone you respect and who has gone before you can help fast track your career.

A good mentor should be able to:

  • Offer motivation and support
  • Share their knowledge and expertise
  • Help you set and achieve goals
  • Help you build your professional network and networking skills
  • Provide career advice and guidance

It’s essential to find someone you admire and want to be like. He or she has to be someone with similar sets of strengths and skills to yours that you wish to emulate.

4.Find the Right People

One of the most critical but overlooked aspects of career success is finding the right life partner or people to surround yourself with. Selecting a supportive people will significantly influence the trajectory of your career.

I learned this lesson at an early age from my parents. I’ve seen how love and support can make all the difference and the point of the story is…

You need to find a support system that shares your core beliefs, jives with your personality and is supportive of your career.

5.Have a Financial Buffer

Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes you just need to leave a job. This is why it’s so important to put aside resources to give you the freedom to walk away on your own terms.

Having a financial buffer is especially important for freelancers and artists, who often experience irregular income. I speak from experience. I used to work as a professional singer. There were weeks where I had paid singing gigs, then nothing for the next two months.

Here’s what you should do: In months where you make extra money, you are going to save and build a buffer for the slow months or unexpected expenses like medical emergencies.

I suggest you create a savings goal of at least three months to cover the expenses you need to survive (rent, utilities, food, loan payments, etc.) and make your ‘financial buffer’ as a sub-account in your savings account.

You will be happier and healthier in your personal and professional life since you have financial control.

While I know all five of these mantras aren’t perfect for everyone, they’re a nice guideline for finding a path to career happiness and success.



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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @Brian C. - these are things that are needed for a job but not necessarily for a career. Granted the job could be your career but then maybe not. Things will change as you grow and mature in your career and these five happy things will change right along with it.

  • w w.
    w w.

    I am Happy. Really happy.

  • Brian C.
    Brian C.

    Five Happy Things.
    1) transportation
    2) Meals
    3) respect of coworkers and vice verse.
    4) wage with no debt.
    5) laboring details that are easy to understand and can repeatedly product the service or product easily.

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