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The present study seeks to draw together the scattered literature on perceived career success and to develop a theoretical framework which concerns 'striving to know and feel good about oneself as a primary goal of adult life. Results of a longitudinal study of perceived career success involving some 3000 subjects are presented. A LISREL analysis was performed on model variables contrasting the importance of two aspects of Raynor's theory of personality functioning and change (1982), subjective and objective criteria in determining the dependent variable ‘perceived success’. It was hypothesized that subjective criteria, for example being satisfied in one's job, would be a more important determinant of perceived success than objective criteria such as attainment. The parameter estimates which were obtained supported the overall thrust of the hypothesized model. However, support was not found for a number of hypothesized relationships, such as sizable effects of external constraints on subjective and objective factors and the effects of attainment on work satisfaction. The results are discussed in terms of the sample of men and women used in the study and in terms of further development of a career success theory.