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How Do You Define Success?

04 May

How Do You Define Success?

Posted By: 
Kimberly White




  • the accomplishment of an aim or purpose
  • the attainment of popularity or profit
  • a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity

What is success? How should one define it? Is it even necessary for us to define it?

Researchers suggest that yes, it is essential for us to each define success, because the definition is what drives our motivations, actions, and path in life.

Traditionally, success is viewed in terms of good grades, prestigious jobs, trophies, titles, money, material possessions and popularity. We see that someone has thousands of followers on Instagram and think, “wow, they are successful.” Or we see that someone owns a truck, a boat, and a three story house with a yard and think, “they must be so successful, look at all the awesome things you have!”

Are those really the best views on success and achievement though? What about kindness, happiness, and simplicity? How else can success be defined?

Consider this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What is Success?

To laugh often and much


To win the respect of intelligent people



To earn the appreciation of honest critics

and endure the betrayal of false friends


To appreciate beauty;

To find the best in others;


To leave the world a bit 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 to have succeeded.

What a beautiful way of viewing success. Psychologist, Madeline Levine author of Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success, writes how we should avoid traditional views of success and rather encourage young people to “… know and appreciate themselves deeply; to approach the world with zest; to find work that is exciting and satisfying, friends and spouses who are loving and loyal; and to hold a deep belief that they have something meaningful to contribute to society.”

This view of success is less about the things that you achieve and more focused on the ways that you conduct yourself throughout life and the values that you create and hold onto.

Success is cultivating healthy relationships.

What is life without the people around us who we love? Striving to create prosperous, happy relationships with family and friends definitely contributes to success.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” - Henry Ford<

Success is persevering through trials.

If life were a piece of cake, we would never really achieve much, and without hardship, we would never be able to work for anything great. Choosing to rise again after one falls is what true perseverance and success is about.

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” -  Booker T. Washington

Success is centered around happiness.

When your mindset and actions are focused on generating happiness for yourself, or even better for someone else, success comes more easily and it can be found in rich and exciting life experiences.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” - Albert Schweitzer

Success doesn’t happen overnight, it is found along the journey.

Success will come and go like waves throughout life. You will experience victories and losses. Ultimate success in life is found when focus is placed on the journey, not the end goal.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill

How else do you think success can be defined? How can it be created and found?

Know that only you have the power to define what success will look like in your individual life. Strive for authentic success and have fun on the journey.