Are You Thriving? Troubleshoot Your Career With This Checklist

One of the worst things about feeling stuck in life is not knowing how to define it. You feel stagnant at work, you feel aimless, you feel like you're in a rut, but you might find your way out of it all if you just knew what to fix. While "thriving" has different meanings in different contexts, one British scientist believes he's come up with a list of qualities that can help you figure out what's going well in your life — and what needs to change.


Daniel Brown is a sport and exercise researcher at the University of Portsmouth. He's just released a longitudinal survey of scientific literature about thriving, whether in infants, children, or adults. "It appears to come down to an individual experiencing a sense of development, of getting better at something, and succeeding at mastering something," he said in a press release. "In the simplest terms, what underpins it is feeling good about life and yourself and being good at something."

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If that feels a bit vague, Brown has come up with what he calls a "shopping list" of components. You don't have to feel all of these things to be a thriving individual, but identifying at least some in your daily life could give you some baseline information about yourself.


A person who thrives is:

  • optimistic
  • spiritual or religious
  • motivated
  • proactive
  • someone who enjoys learning
  • flexible
  • adaptable
  • socially competent
  • someone who believes in self/has self-esteem

A person who thrives also has:

  • opportunity
  • employer/family/other support
  • challenges and difficulties at manageable level
  • a calm environment
  • a high degree of autonomy
  • trust from others in their own competence


You may recognize some of these terms and concepts from studies about resilience, often described as a key part of thriving. Whether you nodded along to Brown's list or realized that something is missing from your career, try to identify specific examples from your life that explain your reaction. Practicing gratitude is one of the surest ways to maintain and improve happiness, while knowing the signs of a toxic workplace or relationship can get you thinking about mitigating and resolving the matter or extricating yourself. Either way, actions steps and planning should help set you on the right path to growth.