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How To Define Success

Updated on December 5, 2012

How to Define Success For You

How does one go about defining success? After all, what one person deems success may seem like failure to another.

Here we will explore the definition of success as it relates to us individually, delving into specific step by step methods to determine what success means for you.


What Is Success?

Am I successful? Success means something different to everyone

In the past, the commonly held definition of success included a big house, a couple of expensive cars, fancy name brand clothing and boatloads of money. Often times what we perceived as success was, in reality, not so pretty. Strained marriages/divorce, little to no time with the kids, health problems as a result of poor diet and lack of exercise, and so on became the norm. It was all about impressing others. It was all about image and material things.

Today we are seeing a cultural value shift away from stuff and toward things that truly bring joy. Fewer people are willing to work 60-80 hours a week in order to have a six figure income. More of us are gravitating toward purchasing organic or local foods as we become more globally conscious. Traditional corporations are scrambling now that employee-friendly companies such as Zappos have risen in popularity. Society is waking up to the fact that we've been going about things the wrong way for quite some time now. Our priorities are shifting. "Success" today is notably different than in years past.

Don't follow the crowd
Don't follow the crowd

Success Is Relative

Determine what success means to you

So what does all this mean to you?


Success is relative. What may be deemed success to one person may not be so to the next. There is no "one size fits all" definition of success. After all, every person on this planet is unique. We each carry likes/dislikes, experiences, personality traits, etc. that help define us. What makes me happy might do nothing for you.

Surely happiness is one key component of success. Therefore, one can conclude that success is different for each of us as individuals.

Books on Success - Success books, personal development, professional development


The 5 Key Areas To Explore In Order To Discover What Success Means To You:

1. Happiness - What brings you joy? Do you like travel? Perhaps you're into comic books or boxing or the paranormal. May a joy list and write down 10 or 20 things that put a smile on your face. Keep in mind this list may change from time to time as you grow and evolve.

2. Physical Health - Without your health, nothing else matters. If you have a serious illness, every other aspect of your life will quickly be put into perspective. Do you workout 4-5 times per week? How healthy is your diet? Are you overweight? Take care of your body-it's the only one you'll ever have.

3. Career - How important is career to you? What does a career mean for you as an individual? Try very hard not to box yourself in to the traditionally accepted definition of the term held by modern society. Planting a garden or raising farm animals or teaching your children important life lessons is "work" just the same as getting up and going to the office from 9 to 5 each day.

4. Emotional Needs - Do you have healthy friendships in your life? How close are you with your spouse/significant other? When is the last time you told your mom or dad that you love them? Do you have time for the kids? Human beings are emotional creatures by nature. We grow as people from interacting with others and we need to set aside time to nourish our relationships.

5. Finances - What type of role does money play in your life? Be cautious not to allow all of your decisions to be based solely on how it impacts you financially. Do you really need that designer outfit or fancy car or even bigger house? Money itself is not evil. Just be mindful of what you are sacrificing in your pursuit for "stuff." If you aren't spending any time with the kids, ask your child if he/she cares about what type of car you drive.

Work/Life Balance
Work/Life Balance

In Conclusion

Healthy balance is the key

Once you have thoroughly evaluated each of these metrics, write a "life mission statement" that will help you define and understand what success is for you as an individual. You will gain a tremendous amount of personal insight and clarity as a result of going through this process. Remember, neglecting any one facet of your life will cause an imbalance in other areas. Possessing a healthy balance is the key.

The most important thing to take from this article is this: don't live by someone else's definition of success. Only you can define what will make you happy. Only you can define success for yourself.

Success Videos - Success strategies

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Comments - Do you agree? Disagree? What does success mean to you?

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    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 6 years ago from Virginia

      I like the Earl Nightingale definition, the steady accomplishment of a worthy goal. Worthwhile goal setting means a lot. Should you see steady advancement towards that worth goal, success is just a matter of time. Thanks for sharing this lens.

    • sharioleary profile image

      Shari O'Leary 6 years ago from Minnesota

      What a great lens! I agree with just about everything you're saying here. Wish I would have thought of this one.

    • magicgeniewishl profile image

      magicgeniewishl 6 years ago

      Success = happiness to me. If I am happy in my life, no matter how much money I have, or how my business is going, I consider myself successful. Thankyou, great lens.