EVERYONE wants a pay raise. Everyone wants a promotion. But not many are willing to go the extra mile by relooking at what constitutes career success.

These days, career success is no longer just about the money we make or the position we hold. It lies in one question: “are we growing?”

People leave an organisation for many reasons, but there is one key motivation that lies at the core of their decision. From my experience, the majority of people came across during the course of my work shared that they left their jobs because there was no room for growth. Hence, we can surmise that the core motivation for most working professionals lies in seeking new growth opportunities – both professionally and personally.

This is why people naturally leave when a new opportunity comes along, with a higher pay and more potential for growth, especially if the organisation is serious about approach to grooming and training their staff for better things.

Therefore, we need consider different perspectives when it defining what constitutes career success today – in terms of what you and the organisation you are working for can achieve.

Experience isn’t everything

Contrary to popular belief, it does not matter how many years of experience you have in the industry. Instead, what matters more is the quality of the experience you accumulate in the industry of your choice.

What is meant by quality? For instance, during your years in the industry, you may have done a multitude of different projects, and drawn valuable, tried-and-tested lessons and strategies from various assignments and environments. This knowledge, which comes by way of experience, is infinitely precious to any employer.

A person can be working in the same industry for the past 15 years, but doing the same things in the same job. Compare him or her with someone with only five years of experience, but different experiences garnered from working on various jobs or projects in the same field that required him or her to take more risks, and create new ways of getting projects done. If I were a business owner, I would certainly invite the latter to join me.

After all, in our increasingly fast-paced society, career success is about whether you can accelerate that curve for a business. In order words, it is not the years of experience that matter but the quality of your years of experience, and how much you learned from venturing out of your comfort zone.

Your career is your responsibility

The lesson I took away by working for various organisations is that my career success is in my hands. If it is to be, it is up to me.

With that in mind, I decided to fork out money from my own pocket to complete my MBA studies. After completing various training, speaking and coaching certifications in four years, I was able to add value to not just to my organisation, but most importantly, myself. In short, the ROIs still came back to me, because I took charge of my own career direction. The first step toward career success is acknowledging that career success is your responsibility, and not anyone else’s.

Set a realistic timeline

The majority of people I met also shared that they tend to change their career direction about every three months or so.

While I am not suggesting that you completely avoid changing your career plan, you should however set a timeline before deciding to embark on a different course. Above all, it is crucial that you pause and reflect on your journey so far, as well as what you can and should do moving forward.

One reason people change their plan is because they do not have clarity about what they really want to do, resulting in a frequent change of direction. By changing their minds every three months, they are not giving their invested efforts enough time to reap returns and results. They should instead give themselves a realistic timeline to see the results. About five to six months is ideal.

In the year ahead, start steering your own ship, and take full responsibility for your career direction.