What is Success? My (Short) Response, and: How Would YOU Define Success?
To celebrate my 17th year in business, I’ve been answering questions from regular readers about my experience and success over the years…
Clint asked: “What is your idea of success, is it just money or is it much more at this point now that you have the money?”
Another great question… “What IS Success?” Clint is specifically asking me, “How Would YOU Define Success?” I have a short answer for you on that, and I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic as well!
In my last post, where I answered What Motivates You?, I mentioned varying levels of success. Or maybe definitions of success, rather than levels. Going from below the poverty level to a six figure income is certainly one way to define success!
That said, I wasn’t necessarily happy at that point in my life.
Sure, during the thick of it, things were awesome. Getting my first business off the ground, starting a second and partnering in a third, and of course the complete lifestyle change – I was on top of my game and enjoying every minute of it!
It wasn’t just about business of course. My whole family was involved and working together, which was fun. The kids had a go-cart, we had a pool table, we could afford to do things we hadn’t been able to do before. Life was going in a great direction!
Unfortunately that phase was short-lived.
I was working toward my idea of success, but as I’ve mentioned that didn’t quite pan out. And what WAS my idea of success? At that time it was all about the ideal lifestyle for my (at the time, big) family. I had this vision of us all smiling, enjoying life, having it easier, being happier…
Obviously it takes money to fund “a better life for your family” or other dreams you may have. Just like it did for me. So sure, there are financial goals. But the money itself doesn’t define success for me personally.
The money was always just a means to an end.
In my post on Self Motivation, I mentioned the things that drive me – the forces that have kept me going for 17+ years now. Fear was one of those things I mentioned: not going hungry, creating a sense of safety and security, etc.
Obviously those things do require money.
But I can also tell you this: The year I made the most money ever, was my worst year ever. Not financially obviously, but personally. And that was the moment I realized that “success” (as most people define it: with dollar signs) meant NOTHING.
In fact, I wrote this post almost 7 years ago: Does Money Buy Happiness?
(Great topic! I just updated that post this week.)
So what is success?
To me, it’s happiness. It’s “quality of life” – period. And that’s a quest I’m still on, and imagine I always will be as my life continues to evolve and change. I’ve talked about this process (and my experience) over the years too, like in this series:
Both of those posts are a great read, and they’ll give you some some insight into how I define success. And yes, it’s going to be different depending on where you are in your life and what your circumstances are specifically. But even when I was broke and struggling to figure out ways to keep food on the table… my daydreams were about having a happy life with less stress and more fun.
“Happy” looks different to everyone.
I encourage you to figure out YOUR happy!
I don’t necessarily get a “happy” feeling about money itself. I make a good living mind you, but don’t have any desire for material wealth – or even the impression it gives. I prefer my conservative lifestyle, my privacy, my quiet freedom, and to spend my money traveling to neat places to see neat people – or just doing things I want to do.
There is one other factor to success though, in my book at least. And that’s leaving your mark on the world. Leaving this place with some sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Figuring out what you were meant to do, and getting it done. I know what mine is, and I won’t consider myself a true “success” until it’s complete.
That reminds me of one of the last things my Grandmother said to me before she passed. I was sitting on her bed holding her hand and she said to me with a smile:
“I’m not sad and I’m not scared. I’m ready to leave this world. I did everything I wanted to do.”
I hope to be able to say the same…
We all view the concept of “success” differently, of course. And that’s perfectly fine! What about you: How would you define success?
I’d also love to hear what you struggle with most when it comes to reaching YOUR version of success? We all have our roadblocks and frustrations, strengths & weaknesses even. What do you feel holds you back most??
~ Yes, I’m using the beautiful quote graphics again! How’s that for setting a great usability example?