At an early age, many of us are either told, or assume, that climbing the corporate ladder and into the CEOs office is the way to success. Well, first off, we all have different career goals, so who’s to say that’s right or wrong? And, second, success is measured differently by all of us, so some people strive for less money and more freedom, or the chance to start their own business with a friend and share leadership duties, rather than be stuck in a corporate setting.
When I was eight, I received a little book about my birthday date and zodiac sign. Inside of it was a list of character traits that I and others who had the same birthday shared. I am a Capricorn, and one trait that stood out to me in the list was “ambitious.” I had no idea what it meant. After inquiring with my mom, I was quite disappointed and very unimpressed. Eight-year-old me wanted nothing to do with career goals, or determination in general, for that matter. That might make sense, but this didn’t change for years. Over a decade later, the tables have drastically turned.
I began to obsess over my goals and career; and still do. They’re currently what are most important to me. Ironically enough, once I found my ambitious side, it was hard to understand others who didn’t focus on larger careers goals — you know, the ones in the movies and self-help books. The ones you think of when you just hear the word “goals.”
I kept asking myself, “Why wouldn’t someone give anything to become a top executive?” “Who wouldn’t want to start their own business?” “Why does a promotion and a raise not excite them?” Thankfully, there are a few things I’ve learned in my journey: All of our career goals are valid, no matter what you strive to become.
There’s a lot more to life than a job. Sometimes your career allows you to escape from other things in your life. If all of your focus and energy is put into your job, it’s hard to let thoughts that have nothing to do with your job invade your space. Your career may also be something you take pride in and feel confident about, but keeping the distinction in the back of your mind between your life and a job is important. There’s a reason why we all strive for work-life balance, after all. They go hand-in-hand, but work isn’t necessarily equated to a happy life. This is directly related to the fact that you’re more than a title and a set of skills than a human being.
Andrew Wilkinson, the founder of MetaLab, once said, “You don’t have to make yourself miserable to be successful. It’s natural to look back and mythologize the long nights and manic moments of genius, but success isn’t about working hard, it’s about working smart.” Hey, the man’s right. Success and career goals that are deemed worthy of recognition are often mistakenly associated with misery, relentless back-breaking effort and a non-stop work ethic. Your end goal doesn’t need to include any of that, especially if it’s simply to justify what you consider to be your biggest dream. These things might be a part of the process, but they’re not required. It’s important to step back and remember that the work side of your life is just that, one side.
On top of that, here’s a quick reminder that everyone’s career goals are valid.
I’m not quite sure who decided what the definition of success is or what it entails, but there are too many people in existence to make success a one-size-fits-all achievement. There’s nothing wrong with having no common ground with the person next to you when it comes to goals. In fact, it’s our unique definitions of success that give us all the chance to applaud one another. Your best friend who’s striving to be the best mom she can be while managing a retail store has every right to feel just as proud as your cousin who’s working diligently to become the head surgeon of a well-known hospital. Our intricacies make the world interesting.
It goes both ways, though. While we want to build up those who have career goals that don’t match up to society’s expectations, the same should be returned to those who are going over-the-top big. I’ve seen people roll their eyes at others who are genuinely excited about their careers, and others who give ambitious folks slack for being so focused on their jobs that it’s draining for them to even think about. Reciprocating encouragement will only support the idea that every single one of our career goals matters, no matter how big nor small.
So, as much as I’d like to put the weight of who we are on our star signs, I know it’s much more than that. We all prioritize the people, material items, dreams and jobs in our lives differently.
The C-suite may have been something we were told should be the end all in our career. True or not, for those who don’t strive for that type of career are no less than the 30-year-old who’s already at an executive level. Either way, it’s all about happiness and balance, and that’s something your zodiac sign is trying to hint at all the time.
Lead image via Getty