How to be Successful on Your Terms

Many people go out into the workforce, just looking for whatever is open, and a large portion of those people find they are unhappy or unfulfilled in their positions. Why is this? These individuals have not looked for success on their own terms; instead, they have let the pressures of getting employed overcome their needs in the workplace. This doesn’t have to be the case. A little five-part assessment can increase the chances of workplace satisfaction.

Penny Layne Writes (2)

Determine Strengths and Weaknesses:

The best place to start is determining your strengths and weaknesses. I know, this has been addressed ad nauseum, but there is a reason for this. Understanding what you are good at, as well as what you struggle with, will help determine the best niche for you.

Are you a natural at networking, but find drudgery in organizing data? Look into options that allow you to meet or speak with new people, while avoiding research or other data compilation situations. Every person has at least one area where they shine. Conversely, there are situations for each person that will leave them drained. These are the weak places. Making a list of strengths and weaknesses is a great first step in determining how to succeed.

Learn New Skills:

Even in strengths, there are areas for improvement. A well-rounded person is always improving their skills or learning new ones to increase their productivity. Once you have determined your strengths and weaknesses, it is important to capitalize on those strengths.

Using the example above, if networking is a strength, improve on it. Find classes that teach better communication skills, learn a new language, or even take a creative writing class. Options for increasing knowledge can be found all over the internet (I will have a post soon on some of those options).

Taking classes that help improve in weak areas can also be profitable. Just because something is a weakness doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. These classes can be put on a resume and show a commitment to improving in the workforce.


Knowing Your Personality Traits:

Another tool for understanding your workforce needs is understanding your personality characteristics. Why would this be important? Let me use my favorite personality assessment to illustrate.I have used the MBTI assessment. This breaks things down into four key areas:

Extroversion or Introversion

Sensing or Intuition

Thinking or Feeling

Judging or Perceiving

Just to clarify, this doesn’t mean that an individual only has, for instance, sensing or intuition; both are there, but one is more dominant than the other. But how does knowing the dominant traits help you? I will use my assessment as an example-


I-           I am an introverted person. This doesn’t mean I can’t participate in large gatherings, just that I thrive and refresh in more intimate settings. This means, if I am participating in an activity that involves large groups, I will need to take time afterwards to be alone and recharge.

N-          This stands for intuition. This means I look for patterns in the information I process. While a sensing person looks to the reality of what is in front of them, I am seeking the meaning or the possible connections behind the information.

T-          I am driven by thinking rather than feeling. This doesn’t mean I have no feelings, or that a feeling dominant person doesn’t think. This means I make decisions based more on collecting data and analyzing the information. A feeling dominant person is going to look more at how their decisions will affect the people around them, or how decisions will be perceived.

J-          I am a judging rather than perceiving personality. This means I like to have things planned and organized when dealing with other people, while a perceiving personality is more open and spontaneous in their planning.

These points do somewhat go back to understanding your strengths and weaknesses, in that knowing how you thrive when dealing with new people or information will help you determine what settings are going to bring out the best in your performance.

Example: If you are an extrovert, you should probably look for a setting where you will get to interact with people regularly. If you like to keep your options open, don’t look for something that will require rigorous deadlines.

There are different personality assessments out there, and you can access some for free. My personal favorite is the MBTI assessment (you can access a free assessment at 16 Personalities).

Research Marketplace Needs:

No one wants to get stuck in a dying or struggling industry, unless you think you can add something of value to bring new life. So how do you guarantee you will have staying power once you find a position that seems like a good fit? Make sure you understand the marketplace. You don’t have to do in-depth research but have a general idea of what is selling. This will help no matter what industry you take on.

Even if you think you can breathe new life into a struggling industry, it will help to understand what is popular out there in the marketplace. You can gain insights for how to promote and re-invigorate your industry.

Or, you can determine a growing industry to add value in. What talents do you have that will bring a new perspective to these areas? How do you see the industry increasing over the years? These are a few examples of questions to ask in your research.

Understanding the needs (and wants) of society will help you determine where your talents can best be utilized.


Continue Learning:

Just because you have found your niche doesn’t mean learning stops. Industries and markets change regularly. New advances are happening almost daily. Keeping up with new trends and finding places you can learn and add value will keep you in demand.

Does the business you work for need to get the word out on a new project? If you understand social media marketing, you can be an asset here. Are you implementing a new CRM? Learn more about how that works. You could become the go-to person for teaching others how to use the system, once again adding value to yourself.

Don’t ever believe you know everything you need to know. Learning is a lifetime process.


Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. – John F. Kennedy


Do you have anything you would add to the list? Let me know in the comments.


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