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It is an age-old question, but it’s important enough to be reminded of because “we all want success.”

We chase money, fame, education, relationships and countless other things, which is okay. We want to be successful and feel successful. However, we rarely stop to ask ourselves: “What is success to us?” Or more importantly, “What is success to you?”

Continue to ask yourself this question. Your answer may change over time.

Few people pause to reflect what it truly means to achieve success in their own lives. If we don’t answer this question, chances are we end up climbing the wrong ladder and pursue someone else’s version of success. We achieve our goals only to realise they were the wrong ones. It’s an adversity few people are able to recover from.

We can’t define or measure failure on the side of success, yet failure is proof that success is possible. One way to measure success is how well we have gone through the process of elimination – what success is not.


What Success Is Not To Us

Before we can pursue success, we need to understand what success isn’t – who we are not. Try to spend a few minutes on social media. You will notice how many people hold a very narrow definition of success thinking it’s about building wealth, owning a billion-dollar company or gathering a large social media following.

None of these is wrong but being like these people don’t necessarily make you successful. Many people have fought their way to the top only to feel miserable and burned out once they get there. They’re unhappy because they pursued what success is not – one that didn’t match their values.


Various Ideas Of Success

During childhood and early adulthood, we learn and adopt various ideas of success from our parents, teachers and friends. Everyone has their own plan and idea of who and what we should be. Although it’s okay to value the opinions and hopes of others, we shouldn’t necessarily adopt them as our own. No one can enforce their version of success on us, and no one can tell us what it means to live a good life.

It’s easy to assume that success means obtaining something, such as a job or social status, and to believe that if we get that something, we’ll be successful. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

If we rest our definition of success on one or two achievements, it’s almost guaranteed that we’ll be disappointed.


What Success Is To Us

We must set our goals, objectives and paths based on what we desire, not what someone else wants for us. Is it more money? That’s fine. I got nothing against money. Maybe it’s a healthy family. Maybe it’s a happy marriage?

Some people may find that helping people brings them the most joy, and therefore success looks like a life given to others. Some want to leave this world a better place than they found it. Some realise that building a business or product brings them happiness. Some prefer isolation and others prefer constant activity.

The simple yet overlooked truth is that “what makes me happy doesn’t make someone else happy,” and vice versa. My vision of success probably looks nothing like yours, and that’s how it should be. If we fail to define success for ourselves and try to pursue someone else’s path, we’ll end up unfulfilled, unhappy and back to feeling deeply unsuccessful.

It’s also important to appreciate that in many ways, we already are successful. If we assume that we are failures until we reach a specific goal, we set ourselves up for unhappiness. We have to recognise all we have already accomplished.

Ask yourself:

  • Where have I already been successful in my life?
  • How can I continue to carry on that success?
  • What are my lessons learned from those successes?
  • How can I develop further in those areas?


Be Specific With Your Goal And Journey

When we reach a certain milestone, that is a part of success, but we don’t stop there. Success is both a goal and a journey. We push higher and harder, striving for more and to be better. But many struggles with finding their paths.

Here are a few questions to help you on your way:

  • What really matters to me?
  • What lights my fire with the right type of passion?
  • How do I want to live my life?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What do I want my legacy to be?

The more specific your answers are to these questions, the more focus you have in achieving that part of success. Saying: “What really matters to me is happiness” will not be enough. If you can’t see clearly, you won’t really know what that means, or what you’re doing or where you’re going. The same is true of your vision of success.

But before you start moving forward, evaluate where you’re at now.

This is a time for honest evaluation, no sugar coating whatsoever. Where you are not is not as important as where you are now. And it’s just as important where you are not as it is where you are.

After that, set some specific goals. These goals should be achievable and realistic but still challenging. Think about how you can measure your goals. If you can’t measure it, how do you know you’re making progress towards your goal?

Say you want to read more to be successful; set a goal of 30 books this year, not just “read more.” Say you want to improve your writing skills to be successful; set a goal of writing 100 articles this year, not just “write more.”

If you don’t define success, someone else will do it for you, and it’s going to be on their terms.

Start on the right path today.


  • What does success mean to you?
  • Where have you already been successful in life?
  • Who do you want to be?


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