6 Ways to Build a Sustainable Career

Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Over the last several decades, the career landscape has changed drastically. With the proliferation of technology, new approaches to virtually everything — from both employees and employers — and a disruptive global recession, the “old” ways of working don’t cut it anymore.

COVID-19 has upended the world of work even more. Workers who still have jobs have had to be exceptionally nimble, and millions of others have lost their jobs entirely, left to figure out the next steps in an uncertain economy.

Amid all the uncertainty, one thing has become clear — crafting a sustainable career is one of the best things you can do for long-term career success.

What is a sustainable career?

At its most basic, a sustainable career is one that endures over time through the entire work lifecycle. Not to be confused with a “green” career in sustainability, a sustainable career is one that can grow with you throughout the years, that has meaning to you and that makes good use of your skills and experience. With so much up in the air these days, crafting a sustainable career that can carry you through both good and challenging times is a worthy and necessary pursuit.

A sustainable career enables you to stay healthy, happy, productive and employable throughout its span — and fits in with the rest of your life at every stage. In other words, it’s a career that is the perfect “fit” for you, whenever and wherever you’re at.

Researchers describe a sustainable career as one that is aligned with your interests, strengths and values, and offers ongoing learning and renewal. Ultimately, building a sustainable career will give you the ability to maintain several aspects of your career and life over the long-term.

Performing well on the job requires up-to-date skills, knowledge and creativity, along with traits like a positive attitude and perseverance. A sustainable career enables productivity and job performance by focusing on continuous learning and adaptability.

A sustainable career provides security via employability, which is the ability to maintain employment or find new employment as necessary. Constant learning and mental flexibility foster employability.

Sustainable careers support a healthy work-life balance for every stage of your life and career. A sustainable career also supports both your physical and mental health.

Here are six ways to build a sustainable career.

1. Know that you are in charge

Kzenon / Shutterstock.com

Careers of the past were more of a passive endeavor. You would find a job with a company in your field, spend years climbing the corporate traditional ladder and then retire. For the most part, your career trajectory was predictable and didn’t require much steering from you.

These days, predictability is out the window! It’s up to you, and only you, to craft a career that’s fulfilling and meaningful, and that makes the best use of your skills, experience and life goals. You know yourself better than anyone, so it’s time to take charge and chart your own path.

2. Have a growth mindset

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

When you believe and understand that your talents and abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication, your ability to build a sustainable career is limitless. This type of proactive mindset leads to the development of current skills that employers need and want.

When you’re committed to continuous learning, you are taking control of your career and are a more engaged, happy and productive employee.

3. Document your value

ESB Professional / Shutterstock.com

Taking the time to keep track of how you add value in your job will help you continue to align yourself with not only your own career goals but with your company’s goals and needs. As business priorities shift, knowing exactly where your value lies and how you contribute will enable you to alter your course as needed.

4. Work with people who energize you

Flamingo Images / Shutterstock.com

Few things can boost a sustainable career like working with people who make you feel energized and passionate about your work, day in and day out. If these smart, connected people aren’t on your immediate team (or company), seek them out and find ways to work together outside of your regular work duties.

5. See the end game

fizkes / Shutterstock.com

A sustainable career is all about the end game. Hone your distance vision by keeping your eyes open for future trends in the ever-changing workplace. Meeting new people, networking in your industry, and learning new perspectives will help you spot new opportunities.

Furthermore, think about what’s important to you personally. Perhaps you’ve climbed the traditional corporate ladder but plan on having a family and would like to shift your focus to part-time employment. Whatever appeals to you, keep in mind that a career “path” can zig and zag, and doesn’t need to be as linear as it’s sometimes made out to be.

6. Get flexible

merzzie / Shutterstock.com

One of the cornerstones of sustainable careers is having the flexibility and work-life balance you need to be happy, healthy and productive through all your working years. Without that balance, you are more at risk for burnout at work and stress that leaks into the rest of your life and puts your entire career path at risk.

Working at a flexible job improves your work-life balance and enables you to have a life outside of your work. This, in turn, enables you to stay in your career over the long-term, no matter what challenges come your way.

Building your sustainable career

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

The key to building a sustainable career is knowing yourself inside and out — what you bring to the table, what your goals are and what makes you feel energized. Once you have a handle on how your unique skills and interests can add value in the workplace, you’ll be ready to build a sustainable career.

Ready to find that dynamic and flexible career that checks all your boxes? FlexJobs members have access to remote and flexible jobs in more than 50 categories. Not a member? Take the tour today to learn how FlexJobs can help you build career sustainability.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees

Maybe you’re not ready to leave the workplace entirely.

Big-Ticket Things You Should Never Buy

In this week’s podcast: Are you wasting big money on these common purchases?

9 Forgotten Frugal Strategies — and How to Resurrect Them

These time-tested methods can help us live smarter today.

How to Invest in Real Estate for as Little as $500

If stock market volatility has you looking for other investment options, here’s a way to diversify — even if you don’t have tons of money.

20 Generic Brands That Amazon Created

Amazon’s growing collection of private brands offers everything from toilet paper and coffee to motor oil and clothing.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

7 Changes Coming to Social Security and Medicare in 2021

Recently, both Social Security and Medicare made some major announcements about benefits for 2021.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

Longer Trips to This Type of Store May Raise Coronavirus Risk

An airborne-disease expert recommends exiting these stores within 30 minutes.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

15 Things You Can Get for Free in December

December is here, which means it’s your last chance to take advantage of fabulous freebies in 2020.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.