I just read a great post over at HBR Blogs on Murray's Laws for Success:
- Are you positioning yourself so that one day, you do not have to work?
- When you no longer have a financial need to work in the role you occupy, would you still continue to occupy that role?
- Do you define your own standards of career excellence?
The overall point is that measuring your "success" against an external barometer virtually always results in failure. Someone or something else out there always exceeds your achievements, whether they be papers, grants, salary, car, or other stuff. You need to find work that lets you save for life after work (if you cannot do that, then no matter how noble or fulfilling the work is, you should think about a different job). The best work involves something you would do without pay. Now, I would temper that with the phrase, "most of the time." No job is 100% play and fulfillment; they all require some scut tasks. Think of that part as the paid work.
Defining your own standards of excellence gets tricky. If you actually measure something, then you can be compared to those pesky outsiders, setting yourself up for failure. You must define the game (and how to win) for yourself.
Are you working Murray's Laws? Click and read the original post to find out who Murray is.