The Point Is...Success on Your Terms

She had been in her job—one she loved and did well—for a number of years.  It was time, she thought, to improve her work status. She applied for, and eventually got, a job with a better title and a nice raise. She didn’t like the job as much as she had liked the other job, but hey, it was a better title and the pay was higher.

Every few years, she continued to move into jobs with better titles and usually, though not always, a significant salary increase.  On the downside, she enjoyed each job a little less while her stress level rose.

She, of course, was me.  For just about 20 years, I moved on and up until I reached the top….and hated every moment of it.  Each morning I wondered if I could be in a bad enough car accident where I didn’t have to go to work, but not bad enough that I would actually be hurt.

It might have been where the job was; though I suspect that while I might have been less unhappy, I wouldn’t have been that much more sanguine in that position at any organization.  I was no longer doing things I was good at.  Instead, I fought for budget, played political games, and managed too many staff.

My neighbor, on the other hand, had the same job for 28 years.  But every few years, she figured out how to make it more interesting for her, and how to make herself more indispensable for her organization.

While her salary didn’t increase as much as mine, and her title remained the same for all those years, she loved going to work and got joy from what she did.

One of her colleagues was happy just to do what she did and what she did didn’t change much over the almost 35 years she worked.

Three models; three different outcomes. Yes, there are other models:  the person who did what I did and loved it; the one who got stuck and hated every minute.

The point is that there is no one way for you to be successful—or unsuccessful for that matter—at work.

After I left my last job I started consulting, and found what I was meant to do.  For the past decade, I have woken up every morning, excited by what lay before me.  I have never regretted my decision nor have I ever wanted to go and do something else.

The point, again, is that success is doing what works for you.  Doing it well, doing it joyfully.  Following your own road and not the road that someone else has mapped out for you.  Maybe you want that corner office, the nice title, the bigger salary, the opportunity to be in charge.  Or maybe you don’t.

The point is to figure out what success means to you and then to go and be successful.


Janet Levine works with nonprofits helping them to be successful by increasing capacity in fundraising, building stronger boards and more skillful staff.  Learn more at  While there, sign up for the newsletter and contact Janet for a free, 30-minute consultation.