Events are sometimes labelled successes long before their wider implications are known. Business leaders have pointed to growth, profitability and healthy balance sheets as live indicators of success, only for the next set of the same indicators to show their gains as short-lived. The boom and bust of the early dot-com companies are examples of successes labelled too soon.
Failure can also be applied as a label too soon but can it really help to define success? Career decision-making is an example where both can be true. Career decision-making is something most of us face in imperfect situations, often without all of the facts to hand. As a result, our decisions can lead to situations we later find out are not right for us - or more positively - situations we feel compelled to improve.
Failure can be too harsh and too early a judgement but - perhaps more importantly - understanding failure can be a positive process for its ability to help us define success. Past career decisions that have led to situations we would like to change are actually an asset. Knowing you are in the wrong job increases the likelihood of successful decision making in the future. Particularly when this knowledge is explored within the context of the values, talents and goals that define our individual relationship with work.
The ultimate aim of career decision-making and career management is to deliver a healthy relationship with work, as well as work that an individual is satisfied with. When this is the case a more meaningful version of personal success can be defined with the help of the decisions and events that we and others previously labelled as failures.