How to Define and Measure Success

How do You Define Success?

People are Most Successful When They Have More:

  • Money
  • Time
  • Health
  • Family Who Love Them
  • Education/Wisdom
  • Fame
  • Meaningful Accomplishments
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Guaranteed Success

If you want to have guaranteed success, there is only one way.  It's not a secret. The secret of success has nothing to do with a secret, or "The Secret." It has everything to do with your values and beliefs. A definition of success is: "The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted."

The secret to success is not in the "achievement" part of the definition of success. The secret of success is in what you decide to desire, plan, and attempt. By this definition, you automatically set yourself up for disaster when you attempt, plan, or desire something that is unfulfilling for you. Even if you achieve your goal, you will not find fulfillment in that "success." So in order to find true success, we must ignore what goals others are telling us to reach and focus on the goals that we find fulfilling. This may sound simple, but people waste lifetimes without ever asking themselves what would make them truly successful.

How Successful is Your Grave Marker?

Even in death there is a sense that the people with larger headstones were more successful.  Unfortunately, we aren't the judge.  This isn't American Idol.  It's real life, and death.
Even in death there is a sense that the people with larger headstones were more successful. Unfortunately, we aren't the judge. This isn't American Idol. It's real life, and death.

The First Problem of Success: You Will Die

The first problem of success occurs when you realize you have limited time to live. This happened to me a few years ago. Although I'm still in my twenties, the realization that I am mortal has shaped my view of success.

My most scarce resource became my limited time. That scarcity of time is something that we all, as humans, share. Even a centenarian who lives past 100 years has scarcity of time. And with time becoming more scarce, value of my time has increased.

I automatically conclude that valuing time can be something worth pursuing for success. Using what time I have effectively becomes a goal in itself. Goal number one for success is "using limited time well."  If you think I am saying that you should be some impatient jerk, you are missing the point.  This is just an early stage of finding true success.  Value your limited time, and know that life is short.

Define Your Own Success

You must define success on your own regardless of what the media, your family, teachers, friends, and others have told you. Success can be the most difficult or the most easy thing you ever attempt. Success can completely fulfill your desires or disappoint you to the point of suicide. Success can give you purpose or it can waste your most precious resources. Success is as close or as far as you want it to be.

This is the "desire" part of success.  Ask yourself what you truly desire in your short life.  It may become clear that having an expensive sports car is no longer your most important definition of success when you realize you're going to die soon.

Success is Not Easily Marked

True success is not always publicized.  Look carefully at the signs.
True success is not always publicized. Look carefully at the signs.

How to Find Your Own Success

You may wonder what the plan for being successful should be. That is for you to decide, but there are some questions you can ask yourself to point yourself in the right direction. Finding true success is more about opening your mind to a new perspective and way of thinking than you have tried in the past. And if you are wondering if you are already aiming for the "right" kind of success, then you are probably heading in the right direction. At least you are questioning. That is the first step.

  1. When was the last time I thought about how I spend my time in the perspective of eternity?
  2. What do I want to accomplish by the time I take my last breath?
  3. What am I doing now that is wasting my precious time?
  4. What changes should I make to be more successful?

Wisdom is a Tool for Success

Don't force yourself to answer when you are too ignorant.  Keep questioning and learning.
Don't force yourself to answer when you are too ignorant. Keep questioning and learning.

Question Everything: Gain Wisdom

Wisdom is your ally when searching for success. In order to find the kind of wisdom that brings understanding, nothing can be assumed. You must question your reason for being, what purpose you can fulfill, and how you will know if you get there.

This sounds easy, but it can easily take a lifetime to answer these core questions of being. The act of opening your eyes, ears, and mind will allow you to gain a mind of your own in time. You will be able to understand and be wise, make good decisions, and control your own success. This is a prerequisite to success because you must have a purpose to know what to work for and ultimately measure your success.

What is Your Target in Life?

Ask yourself if you are even shooting at the right target.  It may not be money, but you may be aiming at the wrong thing.
Ask yourself if you are even shooting at the right target. It may not be money, but you may be aiming at the wrong thing.

The Real Get Rich Quick: Success is Finding True Riches You Already Have

True riches sounds cliché because it is. Let's start by exploring monetary riches. Here's a simple question/answer session.

Q: What kind of success do monetary riches provide?

A: Easy life, security, ability to be generous, opportunity, nice things.

Q: Why do you want these things?

A: These things provide comfort, and general good feelings.

Q: Why are some rich people without comfort and general good feelings, while others are comfortable and have general good feelings?

A: There is something other than money that supplies these things. Something inside the person.

Q: What is it inside those people who are able to find comfort and general good feelings without being rich?

A: An ability to "achieve something planned, desired, or attempted."

This is evident in: the artist creating a work of art that satisfies him, in the child finally making a basket after several times, a couple finally getting a pregnant when they want a baby, a teacher getting his class engaged in a topic that is challenging. These are things that cannot be bought and that rich people may be less likely to experience.

If I was "rich" enough to have expensive video game consoles when I was younger, I would not have played instruments as much. I might have less joy in my life now playing "Guitar Hero" instead of playing guitar at my church in worship of my God. You'd have to chop my hands off to take that from me, and even then, I'm going to try to learn to play with my feet.

Successful Purpose

As you shape your views of what will be succuss in your own life, ask yourself the purpose of the things you do.  Is there purpose to me writing this very hub?  I believe so.  If I didn't think so, then this would be meaningless for me to write.  My belief that this hub may get someone to question their own views of success and ultimately improve their life is enough for me to feel successful.  It sounds sad, but this kind of "low expectation" view of mine is very freeing.  I am free to feel a job well done without holding myself to some societal standard.  I am free to succeed based on my own values.

Concluding Thoughts on Success

Think about a time when you wanted something for your birthday or Christmas. You salivated over it until you got it. Then you immediately jumped for joy when you got it. As you played with your new toy, you realized that it isn't really what you wanted in the first place. We have all experienced this lack of interest in something obsessed over. This could even be a relationship with someone, or a career choice.

You are immediately robbed of your success if you live your life saying, "If only I had..." only to feel unfulfilled when you get it. Instead say, "I know I can always..."

Here are some examples:

  • I know I can always have a positive influence on other people's lives.
  • I know I can always be generous with what I have.
  • I know I can always worship my God.
  • I know I can always forgive people without holding grudges.
  • I know I can always enjoy nature.
  • I know I can always search for more wisdom and understanding

These are some things that give me feelings of success. There are many more for you to evaluate as you think about how short and miserable human life can be. Free yourself from the unrealistic and poisonous pressure to live up to others' standards. Stop living a trivial life. Start living a meaningful, free, and successful life.

This is what I am working toward. I feel very successful, and yet, I know I have a way to go still.

More by this Author


Comments 12 comments

Rose West profile image

Rose West 6 years ago from Michigan

Good thought-provoking hub here, Blake. Success is rather a relative term. Some people define success as getting what they want. I think that true success is living life to the glory of God, enjoying all that He has given us. Would you agree?


Blake Flannery profile image

Blake Flannery 6 years ago from United States Author

Rose,

The term success is very relative and vague. If it means getting what you want, then you must make sure that you actually want what you are trying to get.

If you can change what you want, then your success can become more fulfilling and disappointment less likely. I like your definition of true success.


Kulsum Mehmood profile image

Kulsum Mehmood 6 years ago from Nagpur, India

Very nice hub.


mciemily13 profile image

mciemily13 6 years ago from Tennessee

I really enjoyed your hub. I agree that time is scarce. I tend to rush to try and see and do EVERYTHING (even on vacations). How do you balance trying to have new experiences and slowing-down to enjoy the simple things?

Not only do I agree that the wealthy are sometimes less satisfied than others, but I believe they are more prone to be less satisfied than others if they do not have to work regularly. Satisfaction is usually derived from effort. The more work required the more satifaction gained when the task is completed. If the reward was simply given to me it would feel meaningless; just a material object. When I earn something it carries memories with it that are more valuable than any object could be. (This is getting longer than I meant it to). I'd love to hear your opinion on my work to success theory.

Thank you,

Emily


Blake Flannery profile image

Blake Flannery 6 years ago from United States Author

I agree with your work to success theory. I wonder if that is part of the reason why when some people retire they find themselves questioning their purpose. Then they go back to school, learn to do a helping profession, write here on HubPages, or something.

We are meant to work, and work keeps us sharp, productive, and happy. If for no other reason, work makes me enjoy my spare time even more. I don't think your work has to be at an established traditional job. You can definitely find some of the most rewarding work as a volunteer.


hubber_girl profile image

hubber_girl 6 years ago

yea, its all relative and depends on how you define success. Depends on the definition of success- for some maybe money, for others, different things...But, yea i like what you said about eartly material success that you're limited by the time you have on this earth...and then what? what happens beyond that point- the point of no return?... i have no idea....


Blake Flannery profile image

Blake Flannery 6 years ago from United States Author

I didn't really want to get into the afterlife, because then you have so many arguments. Maybe another hub could get into that.

One thing is for sure. We all have limited life as we know it now. Success is being a good steward of that limited blessing, and doing something significant. Thanks for your thoughts.


Rishfa profile image

Rishfa 6 years ago

great hub... I enjoyed reading it :)


AdamGD 6 years ago

"The Real Get Rich Quick: Success is Finding True Riches You Already Have"

I like this concept, thanks.


shanekruger profile image

shanekruger 6 years ago

Good one, success is all about how you feel about it, its all matter how you see it.


YA ALI MADAD 6 years ago

wisdom is success and success is a part of knowledge.you will be successful if you know yourself,your goodness and badness.YA ALI MADAD.


B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

Up, Useful, and Interesting. True and well said.

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