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Many would argue that it all depends on how you determine ‘success’ and ‘failure.’
Your success is determined by how you define your goals, and where you determine your finish line to be. When you consider what your career goals are, it is entirely up to you, as to how achievable, how specific, or how lofty you want them to be.
Your career goal may be something as simple as ‘I want to be employed full time.’ It could even be something far more intricate as, ‘I want to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company by the time I am 35.’ But you get to determine your own direction and choose where your finish line is – not anyone else.
If you consider the 1976 film Rocky, at the end of the film Rocky Balboa fights Apollo Creed and after 15 gruelling rounds of combat, Creed is declared winner by virtue of a split decision. On the outside, it would appear that Rocky failed by not winning the fight, and in many respects, that would be a true assessment.
However, because the film is a profile on the underdog boxer, in the lead up to the contest we get to see Rocky express that he never thought he could actually win the fight, he just wanted to prove to himself that he could last the entire 15 rounds against the world champion – which he succeeds in doing.
When Rocky explains his motivations and goals to Adrian he says, “I was nobody. But that don't matter either, you know? 'Cause I was thinkin', it really don't matter if I lose this fight. It really don't matter if this guy opens my head, either. 'Cause all I wanna do is go the distance. Nobody's ever gone the distance with Creed, and if I can go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and I'm still standin', I'm gonna know for the first time in my life, see, that I weren't just another bum from the neighborhood.”
Failure and success are determined by wherever you set your personal finish line, in relation to where you stop. Before the title fight was even announced, Rocky could have been viewed as a bum - a failure by most people’s standards. However, once given the opportunity to challenge the champ, Rocky sets his personal finish line at the end of the 15 rounds. Then when he achieves his goal, he says that he doesn’t want a rematch because he determined what his goals were, and successfully achieved what he set out to do.
Perhaps you’re only a few years into a career, or maybe you’ve given ten years or more. Maybe it’s the money. Perhaps it’s the challenge. Either way, if you’re considering changing careers, you need to ignore what you think society expects of you, listen to yourself and define your own terms of success.
Whatever the reason, changing careers should never be viewed as a failure and it doesn’t mean that changing careers is lowering your standards. Changing careers should be fuelled by you wanting to go the distance in your own fight, setting your sights on happiness and personal fulfilment. That’s the direction in which you should set your finish line.
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