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10 signs you have more career success than you think

Feeling like your career is dragging on but providing you nothing? You’re not alone. A lot of people don’t feel valued, respected, or motivated at work. A big part of that it not seeing how their work actually connects to their own success. If you’re feeling this way, though, realize there are many measures of career success. 

While it can be soul-sucking to work for a company that doesn’t always respect you, it doesn’t mean that you’re a career failure. Instead, look at these signs that you have more career success than you think.

10 – You aren’t forced to clock in and clock out at specific times

if you don't have to clock in every day, you've got more career success than you think

In the old world of employment, your time was rented. You had to show up at a certain time and leave at a certain time. If you didn’t, your employer could dock your wages. You may have done a variety of tasks while at work or a single task, but employment was almost always time-based.

This method of employment meant there was little room for advancement because time was finite. It was difficult to show your value because you were not paid to work smart, only hard.

In the modern era, this type of work has fallen off as the primary way people work. Now, there are many more salaried positions where you’re guaranteed wages for a job done. Sure, the culture of work is still very 9-to-5, but it’s far less strict than it was in the past. You show up around 9 or just before, and leave around 5 or just after. However, if you’re a bit late one day or need to leave a bit early another, it’s largely not a problem.

Since many people still work in hourly positions where they are forced to clock in and clock out, if you have the freedom to work a general set of hours without punishment for being a few minutes off, you have more career success than you think.

9 – You don’t mind waking up to go to work

Can you get up for work without resenting your employer? That's a sign of career success you wouldn't usually think about

For many people, waking up to go to work is a terrible feeling. All you want is to stay in bed (or lounge on your couch). You quietly curse the world for you not being born rich. Then you get ready and head to work. If you’re not like this – if getting up for work is alright – then you have more career success than you think.

Everyone gets tired, but it’s amazing if you’re able to wake up and head to work without anger or resentment. When you consider 85% of employees are not engaged at work, a factor that rolls into how excited someone is to wake up in the morning, it’s a big deal to be able to wake up and head into work regularly.

If you’re not that excited about work when you wake up, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have career success. Read through the rest of these tips to see if you’re doing better than you think you are.

8 – You know what you’re supposed to do each day

knowing what you are supposed to do each day is great - half of people don't have this

It sounds terrible, but just knowing what your company expects of you is a sign that you have more career success than many people. Nearly half of employees don’t know what is expected of them each day. This causes anxiety, concern, and resentment towards the company, to say nothing of the mental energy wasted trying to figure out what to do at work. 

If you’re in a spot where you don’t know what’s expected of you at work, definitely seek out that clarity. Sometimes it’s due to personality traits you didn’t know you had, like being inadvertently lazy or helpless. If that’s the case, you have full control and can fix it easily. Sometimes, though, it’s about the company or your manager. In that case, you may want to consider looking for a new role within your organization… or start networking outside the organization to see what your next step is. 

7 – Your qualifications match your job

if you're not underemployed, that's a sign of career success

It may not seem glamorous, but simply doing a job you’re qualified for is a sign of career success. In the US, for example, nearly 14% of workers are underemployed, meaning they have a job that is far below their actual skill level. Since earnings are often correlated to the skills required to do the job, millions of employees are not earning what they could and are not using all of their skills at work. 

When it comes to underemployment, the economy – both national and local – plays a part. If you’re a highly skilled worker but those jobs are not available where you live, chances are you will be underemployed. But with the rise of remote work and intrapreneurship, finding work that matches your qualifications is getting easier no matter where you are. 

6 – You can take – and afford – vacation

being able to take a vacation is a privilege, unfortunately

Think about it for a minute. If you’re able to afford a vacation (even a “staycation” where you don’t go anywhere but treat yourself at home), a couple things have to be true. You have to work in a role that gives you vacation time and you have to make enough money to pay for all of your necessities with extra left over. With so many people working in countries that don’t support paid vacation or in companies that are strict about taking time off, if you can take a vacation you have more career success than you realize. 

If you’re in a role where you can’t take a vacation, it may be time to move on. Whether by demands of the job or a boss that won’t let you take time off, being “on” all the time is detrimental to your health and your productivity. It may seem like taking time off is “lost” productivity, but the reality is the opposite – time off helps creativity and increases resilience. 

5 – You like (at least some of) your coworkers

if you like your coworkers, you've got more career success than most

Coworker hate is a real problem in workplaces. About half of employees is large companies don’t like their coworkers. It can make for a miserable time in the office, to say nothing of lost productivity because everyone is navigating who hates whom. So if you like your coworkers – even just some of them – you’ve got more career success than you realize. You’re doing better than nearly half the workforce, which probably includes some of your colleagues.

If you’re in a workplace where you hate your coworkers, try to identify why – on both sides of the table. Yes, you want to figure out what really bugs you about your coworker. But you should also look inward to ensure you’re not being unlikable for the exact same reasons you dislike others. 

4 – You can have career goal conversations with your manager

can you have career goal conversations with your manager? that's a win

Let’s be real: almost every job is temporary. We’re not in an economy where most jobs you start with are the ones you end with. In fact, you may even switch careers entirely more than once during your career. However, many employees get no career support from their managers. It’s one of the key reasons employees leave companies. If you’re able to have career growth conversations with your manager, you’ve got more going for you than you may realize. 

This can be especially true in the startup world, where often managers take fast-paced changes as an excuse to leave employees in limbo. Regardless of the environment you work in – slow or fast-paced – a good manager should take time to talk about your career goals with you. In a fast-paced environment this can be even more impactful for the company, since the changing nature of the company gives you a great opportunity to learn new skills (and the company gets a great opportunity to fill gaps quickly). 

3 – You have health benefits that fit your needs

career success comes from staying healthy

One third of employees don’t understand their health benefits. 41% of employees say that premiums are unreasonable. Stats like these are not fun to read – especially if you’re in the group feeling the pinch. If you’ve got benefits that you understand and that fit your needs, that’s a sign that your career success is on track. Whether an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, having health benefits will keep you healthier and more engaged, leading to a better overall quality of life. 

Since health benefits are set by employers, there’s little that a single employee can do to increase their coverage. However, this could become a negotiation point for you in your next promotion or performance meeting. As well, make sure you fully understand your benefits to see how they could work for your lifestyle. 

2 – You understand and believe in your company’s values

a huge sign of career success is actually believing in your company's mission and values

Less than 30% of employees actually believe in their company’s values, rendering them all but useless. The most common reasons someone doesn’t believe in their company’s core values is that they are poorly defined. This leads to a gap between the ideal culture and the actual culture – but if the talent team is recruiting based on the ideal culture you get a situation of misaligned expectations. 

So it’s a sure sign of career success if you understand your company’s values and agree with them. It not only means they were well communicated but also that they align with your personal values on some level. It also likely means the values are simple and action-oriented, so you can easily tell what they mean and know how to live them. If you’re in a spot where you don’t agree with your company’s values, check to make sure they are communicated properly. If they are and you still don’t agree with them, it may be time to move on. 

1 – You can afford to save for retirement

about half of workers have nothing saved for retirement

Almost half of Canadians are living month to month, not saving anything for retirement. In the US, that number is 78%, more than three quarters of workers. Simply being able to save for retirement and maintain a decent standard of living on your income is a huge indicator of career success. The amount you save is a different story – different claims will say you need to save anywhere from 6% to 25% of your take home pay in order to retire comfortably. The number, of course, depends on your personal financial situation and goals, but you should check how much you’re able to save. 

If you want to get better at saving for retirement, the key is to just start. Even putting away $1 dollar per month is a start. Of course that will not be enough to retire on, but by starting the habit you give yourself the opportunity to save more in the future. This is especially true if you create mini-competitions with yourself where you try to save more every month. So you may save $1 dollar this month but aim for $2 dollars next month, and so on. 

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