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What Makes a Successful Career: Maximizing Personal and Vocational Growth & Self-Concept

By Michael Kiener PhD, CRC Director of Rehabilitation Counseling Maryville University, Missouri Rehabilitation Association Eastern Chapter, Co-host of the Mentor Moments podcast.


Laura Weeks Graduate of Rehabilitation Counseling Maryville University


In the third installment of this series, readers were asked to identify the different life roles they have (e.g., student, worker, spouse, etc.) and how the importance of those roles changes over time. In addition, readers were asked to think about their career and how their different life roles may have impacted their career needs and progression. Readers were also given a set of questions to help them identify life roles, predict future life roles, and how life roles interconnect with employment needs.

Click here to read the first blog in the series.

Click here to read the second blog in the series.

Click here to read the third blog in the series.

Moreover, we have discussed the importance of framing career growth as a developmental and on-going process, while also considering how changing life roles will play a significant part in career progression. In this blog post, readers will reflect upon how knowing your career stage and life roles can positively or negatively impact individual self-perception and confidence depending upon the match between the person and the environment (employment).

If you can find a career that fits your values, interests, and abilities and if you have the freedom to adjust the work environment to match the demands of different life stages, chances are you will feel a sense of personal fulfillment and be confident in your ability to succeed. If, on the other hand, you are in a job that you do not view as challenging, meaningful, or valued by society, your sense of self will most likely be low. This concept of career perception has been shown to be an essential component of overall job satisfaction.

In one study, for example, Bright (2021) examined career perceptions of federal employees in relation to job satisfaction and intentions regarding leaving employment. Bright (2021) found that individuals with more positive levels of career perceptions reported higher levels of job satisfaction and were less likely to be looking for new work. In other words, when employees believe in the work they do and believe it is valued by others, including those in the organization they serve, they will have an increased positive self-image. Therefore, it is essential to continually assess your occupational well-being and to monitor the positive or negative impact it may have on individual mental health.

To extend your journey of increased personal and vocational growth reflect on the following questions focused on your sense of self:

  1. Describe a time when I was at my best at work.

    1. How did that experience make you feel?

  2. In what ways do your personal values align with your work?

  3. Describe how working with co-workers energize you.

  4. Discuss ways you show appreciation to your co-workers.

  5. What does it look like at work when you feel valued?

  6. How can you harness and increase your positive experiences?

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