What is success, and have you got it?

Uncategorized Feb 21, 2022


Is that having a good job, a lot of money, social status? 

These are all common ways that people, and perhaps society, define success. Particularly around careers, you hear people say that certain jobs are good or they're bad. But who is the arbiter of all this?  What really is a good job? What is "a lot of money"? What defines social status as successful? 

Success is not an external thing. It's not for someone else to judge you on how successful you are. Importantly, and a lot of us do this, don't define your own success by what society or other people say it is. 

How do you define success?

The important thing is actually how you define success. My definition is this. Think about what yours is.

Success is doing work that I love doing that supports a lifestyle I've chosen.

When I changed career to become a professional career coach (which I did with the help of  professional career coaches), I was following a path which had started with "I've got no idea what I want to do next, but it has to be something I have passion for".

I was getting married at about that time and we planned that when we had children, my wife would work three days a week and I wouldn't work on a Tuesday so I could have a full day a week with them. Now I know not everyone has that luxury and people say to me that I'm so lucky to have that midweek day with my kids. 

The point is that we made a plan and had a vision of what we wanted our lives to look like, and it worked out. You can do that too. The thing is, if you don't know where you want to get to, you don't know which direction to go in and you don't know whether the decisions you make are helping you to get there, or not. 

Its a mindset thing

That's the mindset of "always know the outcome you want before you start anything, however big or small". 

It's not the only useful mindset to adopt because sometimes things don't go as you planned. Something happens in your personal life, your company makes your job redundant, a pandemic comes along. Sometimes that involves changing or tweaking your goals. Sometimes its just about finding a different route to get there. 

You can either blame these things for not getting where you want to get to, or you can take the attitude of "I notice what I am getting, and if it isn't what I want, I do something different".

Ultimately its about taking full responsibility for your life. "I am in charge of my mind, and therefore my choice of action and reaction in any situation". There's a lot of depth in that mindset that we could explore, but the key thing is that adopting that attitude puts you in control. 

Destination or journey? 

So, its up to you to decide what success means. As well as the definition I gave you earlier, I have the following thoughts about success.

  • Success is whatever YOU define success to be
  • Success is something you can experience every day, as well as in those bigger goals
  • Happiness, like success, is not a destination or a thing that you get once you've done something or have something. You can choose to be happy right now
  • Aspire to be the best you that you can be, in every context of your life
  • Don't judge yourself unrealistically against others. Just because you can't run as fast as an Olympic champion doesn't mean you are not a successful runner. If you improve your technique or your time, you are experiencing success.



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