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When it comes to career success—and more importantly, career fulfillment—it’s important to know what you’re looking for. Everyone has a different version of what “success” and “fulfillment” really mean to them.
So, you have to know what you want but you also have to prioritize, because the reality is this: You probably will have to compromise at some point.
Compromise isn’t a bad thing. Some people are willing to sacrifice a little pay in exchange for a shorter commute, for example. Others are willing to give up professional power and prestige for a more balanced personal life. I’m willing to trade stability for the chance to run my own business.
Recommended Reading: What are You Willing to Sacrifice for Personal and Professional Growth?
You have to be willing to make deals. But you also have to know what components are non-negotiable. Some things can’t be sacrificed.
We all have different limits. Personally, I’m not willing to exchange my integrity for a paycheck. I’ve made that mistake and now my soul is a non-negotiable. I’m not willing to give up any piece of it for my career—and I shouldn’t have to. You might feel the same way.
I have other non-negotiables too. I’m not willing to travel every other week the way I did for nearly a year in 2013. I’m not willing to give up certain elements of my personal life, no matter how much money someone offers.
I’m not willing to settle for anything less than a career I feel passionate about, even on the hardest days.
The interesting thing is that non-negotiables tend to change with time. Our strict limits today may be swayed in another direction tomorrow. That’s okay. We are ever-evolving people and our winding career paths often reflect that.
I am a huge believer in what Richard Bolles, the author of What Color is Your Parachute?, said to me in an interview years ago:
“Start with the largest vision of what you really, really, really want to do with your life, so that if you only get 60% of that, you’ve gotten far, far more than if you start with a vision you hack down in the name of supposed reality.”
Start with the ideal. That’s the first step.
Then, be prepared to compromise.
Finally, get clear on what kind of compromise is acceptable and what’s not.
What are your non-negotiables?
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