In order to have success at whatever you choose to do — career, relationships, hobbies, etc. — you need to know what it means to be successful. How would you know you’ve done it unless you know what it is?
Related: Listen to an episode of the Intellectual Roundtable Podcast, where Lee and Michael discuss this question: ‘How do you define success?’ We also discuss another question as well, ‘Is happiness the most important purpose of life?’
So let’s hear from our individual readers: How do you define success?
Related questions: When is it useful to fail? Why are definitions important? How do you set goals?
5 thoughts on “How Do You Define Success?”
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as I’m going through a fairly big overhaul in my professional life, from full-time teaching to part-time teaching and part-time writing. My current thinking is that success is finding my own path — your own version of a “career,” for example, that brings fulfillment, that may not look like the more well-trodden paths that my friends, family members, coworkers, or other people in my life have. I will earn 40% less money than I have enjoyed up to now, but I will gain 40% more time. I will need to live differently, more simply. I will have fewer dinners out, fewer clothing purchases, fewer vacations, etc. I was recently reminded that my decision will lead to lower contributions to my retirement fund. This had not occurred to me, and it causes me some real fear. But what’s more important — having a robust financial cushion for when I’m in my 70s, or finding room for creative work in my life now? Because I love teaching, but doing it full time leaves me nothing left for the part of me that needs the creative work, too. How important is the soul’s happiness? How important is time vs. money?
To have a satisfied mind. That is my definition of success. To be at peace with my thoughts and actions. To live consistently with my values. To know when enough is enough. In other words to be pleased, for the most part, with what I have. (I should limit my wants to those things that will truly bring me joy or will challenge me in healthy ways.) And lastly, to maintain relationships that are healthy, try to repair hurt relationships when I can, but then to not get too emotionally invested in the interactions with people who habitually challenge me negative ways.
I gave this alot of thought. Any time I TRY I am sucessful. There was a time in my life when I gave up. I quit trying, at everything.
Example… I wanted to take this test for a teaching certificate. So I could work as an Aid for Special Needs Children. I had some college but not enough.
So I studied my butt off for 3 months. I had alot against me. I had to be in Mancado at 7:30 am. There was no parking available, so I needed a ride. Math was a big part of the test and not my strong suit. It was a timed test. You get the idea. Oh and it was storming that day.
So… I took the test.
The thought of sucess was not on my mind. Taking the test was.
I waited 60 days for the results. I didn’t pass. Missed it by 5 points. I had ran out of time.
But I was SUCESSFUL! I took the test. Which was my goal in the place.
So sucess for me is trying at something, anything.
This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson fits here: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition, to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is the meaning of success.”
I love this, Tom.