Posts made in April, 2015

Who decides if you’re successful?

Success – what is it? Who determines it? How do you know when you’ve achieved it? What does it even mean? Most times, when I hear people talk about success or successful people, they’re referring to wealthy people who have made lots of money, have highly paid corporate jobs, and have lots of stuff’ (you know, big house, fancy cars, goes on lots of holidays…) but is that truly the meaning of success? Is success really just about how much money and things a person can amass?

If that is the case then at what point does someone become “successful?” When they earn $100k per year? Or perhaps when they earn $500k per year? How many cars does a person have to have to be successful? What size of house? And who decides all of these anyway?

Maybe, just maybe, what many of us interpret as success isn’t really success after all. But rather, it is the society’s misguided definition of success. After all, who decides if you’re successful?

Let’s take a quick look at the standard dictionary definition of success:

Success: the accomplishment of one’s goals

Nothing there about money, houses or fast cars. Nothing there about comparing one individual to another. Just the accomplishment of one’s goals.

So success is really about you achieving your own goals – not someone else’s, not what society says you should achieve but your own personal goals.

Let’s make this even more personal – after all, it’s all too common for people to set a goal, achieve it and then feel like they haven’t achieved any level of success. What’s with that?

Too often we set goals based on values that are imposed on us by our peers – our family and friends, our social groups, or even society in general. We decide for some reason that these are worthy goals because we’ve been told they are, and we go off working hard to achieve them, but in the end, we feel unfulfilled, empty, and far from successful.

The secret here is to look within, to find our own true personal values, to find the things that really matter to us, regardless of what the society says. These deep, personal core values, form the foundation, form the goals that lead to a feeling of true success.

So let’s redefine the meaning of success.

Success: The realisation of one’s values

In other words, discovering what really matters most to YOU, and living your life according to those values.

I recently experienced a great example of this.

I noticed a note that my wife had stuck to the fridge. Here’s what the note said:


  1. Connection
  2. Create positive memories
  3. Learning
  4. Fun

These priorities are a reflection of her values, the things that really matter to her personally. By achieving these priorities, she achieves real success. The kind of fulfilling, satisfying success that eludes so many of us.

The reason so many of us feel we’re unsuccessful is we’re constantly living out other people’s values. We’re trying to achieve  goals that sprang from other people’s values, which are often incongruent and in conflict with our own values. No wonder people spend a lifetime chasing success but never finding it.

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