The 4 Qualities of a Great Career


 “You don’t have to be the victim of your environment. You can also be the architect of it.”

― James Clear

What makes for a ‘great’ career?

We all know when we’re unhappy at work, and if our careers aren’t offering us the kind of fulfillment we want but flipping this on its head, many people struggle to articulate what a ‘great’ career means to them.

There are a heap of variables to think about here and distilling down our thinking for clarity is vital if we’re to develop our understanding further.

James Clear, the bestselling author of Atomic Habits, has some thoughts on this. He recently tweeted something that really got my attention — because let’s face it, any career advice that is proactive, practical, AND fits within the limited word count of a Tweet is worth paying attention to.

Clear ascertained that there are four components of a great career. If you can answer yes to the following — you’re onto something great:

  1. I enjoy it.
  2. I’m good at it.
  3. I make good money.
  4. I’m around fascinating people.

And if you weren’t able to answer ‘yes’ to all or any of those statements concerning your career, then you need to ask yourself the following:

  1. Where are fascinating people?
  2. In what ways can I make money with them?
  3. Which ones am I good at?
  4. Which ones do I enjoy?

To dive in a little deeper, here are a few things to think about for each question:

Where are fascinating people?

Clear means; who do you find fascinating, what are they doing, where do they work, and why do you find them fascinating?

Reflect on the who, what, where, and why in this question to build a really robust answer.

In what ways can I make money with them?

Don’t just think about ‘copying’ the people you find fascinating. Consider ways to can collaborate and partner with them. What skills can you bring to their table to help add value to the work they’re doing?

This is where answering the ‘why you find them fascinating’ question can throw some clarity.

Which ones am I good at?

Compiling a list of ways you can work together is great, but you really want to focus on the things that are unique to you. What are your core strengths, innate characteristics, and professional skills?

How can you articulate and utilize them?

Which ones do I enjoy?

Hone it down a little more. The true sign of a great career is one that brings the first three components together with the added benefit that you also really love what you’re doing.

There will no doubt be a bunch of stuff you’ve developed skills in and that you’re proficiently an expert at within your career — but if you don’t really enjoy doing them, why keep doing it?

I love Clear’s set-up of these four qualities for the, well, clarity. It’s so easy to get bogged down in long articles, listicles, and big, bold, shouty headlines within articles that don’t really offer a lot of substance.

Sometimes the best way to get started on a fulfilling career is to skim it all down. Focus on how you might answer the four questions above, and you’ll set yourself on the path to greatness.

Within your career that is …