By Alyssa Gregory

What Does Success Mean to You?

By Alyssa Gregory

The other day, I was going through some old documents on my computer, and I found a list of various definitions of success. I can’t remember exactly what this was for, but I suspect it had something to do with a coaching exercise I was doing at the time.

Success is a very subjective term, and it doesn’t mean exactly the same thing to two different people. Not knowing how you define success in your life can make the process of becoming successful even more challenging. It’s like fumbling around in the dark to find something when the light switch is right next to you, if only you would stop grasping in the dark and focus on the light switch.

So, I thought I’d share my list of what success means to me (at least what it meant to me when I created it last year) so we can take a look at the different meanings of success. Success in my life means (in no particular order):

  • Being happy
  • Doing what I love everyday
  • Helping others do what they love
  • Staying true to my values
  • Being a good mom
  • Having respectful relationships with those around me
  • Being able to contribute financially to my household
  • Reaching financial security
  • Being recognized as knowledgeable by peers
  • Having time to enjoy the little things in life
  • Not feeling stressed and overwhelmed on a regular basis
  • Being in control of my own future
  • Following my dreams
  • Setting and reaching meaningful goals
  • Making genuine connections with others

What’s On Your List?

When is the last time you thought about success and what being successful means in your life? Does your definition of success match up with where you’re focusing your time and energy every day?

Not only does an exercise like this give you a chance to reevaluate your priorities and help clarify the direction you need to go in order to reach your goals, but it can also serve as an effective way to brainstorm things in your life and work that you may want to try doing differently.

Take some time to think about how you define success, make your own list and see how it relates to your day-to-day life. If you’d like, share your definition of success in the comments so we can create a broad list of meanings, and see how success can vary from person to person.

Image credit: svilen001

  • There is a difference between a successful professional and a successful man altogether. My target is a successful fulfilling balance between personal and professional life that will allow me to do the things I love and be where I want, with people I enjoy hanging out with, having memorable experiences.

  • Not knowing how you define success in your life can make the process of becoming successful even more challenging

    Too true! Something I struggle with a bit.

    *runs off to make my list*

  • Success is reaching my goals.

  • W2ttsy

    a lot of people choose to define success based on the amount of money they have. Now normally that would cue the lecture on money not buying happiness, however i disagree.. I see a lot of problems in society that i wish i could fix, but lack the funds to do it. Gandhi’s quote rings true for me “be the change you want to see in the world” and money is the vehicle in which i can reach those goals. Better living and support for the disadvantaged, better infrastructure for helping others. These sorts of things would make the world a better place, but they need cash to get off the ground, so while people would love to “help others” instead of “make money” in order to be considered successful, the sad reality is that the latter paves the way to the former.

  • Bilal

    Steve Pavlina’s definition of success from his book, really resonates with me.
    It goes something like: “To be at ease with what you see in the mirror: that is true success!”

  • Wardrop

    I use to think of success in terms of mental concepts which sound fulfilling, such as earning a comfortable income, being a good citizen and a likeable person, owning nice things, etc, until I discovered that while such concepts sound fulfilling, they just aren’t. No matter how many fulfilling concepts you checked of your list, you would still desire further fulfilment. An endless quest for success and satisfaction. Such a paradigm, while very common in today’s society, is a dangerous recipe for unhappiness. With everything relevant to your quest for success simply a “means to end”, and all other things a “waste of time” (E.g. the inevitable road blocks and obstacles, the “daily routine”), it all seems rather pointless.

    My point is, why do we seem to need a mental concept which defines success, as a road to happiness? Why can’t we be “considered” unsuccessful (low income, still living with mum, etc), while at the same time be joyful and at peace?

    @W2ttsy, your direct affect on other people as a result of your actions and demeanour, will likely have a more profound effect on this planet than simply throwing around money. I’m not saying that money can’t be used as a vehicle for good action, but you can have a much greater impact on this planet and its people simply as a result of your personal actions and interactions with others, and more importantly, your internal state. Next time you’re confronted with an “annoying”, “insulting”, “provocative” or any other situation which encourages any form of physical or emotional retaliation (internally or externally), by simply not buying into the drama, or rather, by simply letting the emotion flow through you without expression, you’ll be affecting the planet in ways that money can’t. How does getting emotionally or physically violent help one’s so called “desire for world peace”. How will one’s endless desire for money and ‘things’ help defeat world hunger?

    All the money in the world won’t stop wars, world hunger, or the bitch fight between two of your co-workers, only a shift in humanity can do that, and the biggest affect you can have on humanity, is by simply being aware of the unconscious behaviour within yourself; the behaviour which the general population consider “normal”. One’s ego certainly won’t be a motivator behind such action though, as it will want to be the hero or the “special” person on this planet that helps everyone, and who does so in the public spotlight.

    Anyway, that’s enough preaching for one night from me.

  • Some very interesting comments…and definitely some food for thought. @Wardrop – Your comment re: being “considered” unsuccessful but at peace is especially interesting. Going to think on that one a bit more!

  • @ W2ttsy and @Wardrop – There is a military quote that I would like to share with you. “Captains spend all day thinking about tactics. Generals spend all day thinking about logistics.” In civilian speak, people come up with all this great ideas all day but do not know where to start. Generals or leaders must think how to accomplish that they come up with.

    I do agree with Wardrop that money cannot buy happiness (which is a fleeting target for most people) but focused resources with calculated risk can achieve the goal that is ahead of them.

    With that being said, people think having money is evil or punish the people with it. It is how you earn it or your intention with it what could make it evil.

  • TomPier

    great post as usual!

  • Jfcardines

    i read it and i liked it…. it is the issue of control in your list is what i’m concerned about. Are we really in control of our future??? Is control an illusion??? Some can hardly practice self-control when put in situations that are taxing. However on another note you are right about success being subjective, to me success is when my child(ren) can say “WELL DONE DAD” to me that little phrase sums up a whole lot.

  • nouh

    i love it

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