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Vocal powerhouse Mariah Carey knows about number one albums. Since "Vision of Love" (SNE) released in 1990, the diva’s racked up more number one hits (18) than Elvis (17). But her career hasn’t only been gold—and platinum. Carey hit a serious career slump (remember 2001’s film/album combo disaster Glitter?) and a public divorce, only to come out on top and land back in the spotlight.

Now the songstress is imparting some of that hard earned knowledge on the next generation. After mentoring the remaining seven American Idol (NWS) contestants, tonight Carey will take a seat at the judges table and decide if the wannabe crooners can do justice to the very songs that made her famous.

Here are some strategies for building career longevity that don’t require a number one hit to employ:

Get to Know Yourself: “Really understand fulfills you, what opens you up as a person, and what you enjoy,” says Jeff Aulenbach, a career coach based in New York. By recognizing the elements make up your own personal happiness and satisfaction, you can better identify where you’ll be successful both inside and outside the workplace. “Sometimes people really feel like they need to be doing things and they don’t know why,” says Rob Sullivan, author of Getting Your Foot in the Door When You Don't Have a Leg to Stand On. “When that happens, it’s not working and you’re not putting your best foot forward.”

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Don’t Jump Into Anything: Understanding what makes you happy will also make it easier to say no to pursuits that don’t match up. “Be really clear on what you want to say ‘yes’ to in life,” says Aulenbach. “Many of my clients who don’t last very long in their jobs do so because they took a position that was convenient and available, but not resonant with skills and interests.”

Have a Vision: Think about how you see your life for the next five to 10 years, and focus on how your job enables that. Your current job might not be the pinnacle of your career, but acknowledge how it reflects your greater goals.

“Sometimes people get frustrated at work for valid reasons, but forget the disconnect of how their job allows them to achieve other things that are very important to them, like a work-life balance or gives them the money to pursue things they enjoy,” says Aulenbach. If your job isn’t analogous with your vision, “it’s a healthy way of changing your perspective until you can make a change.”