The official definition of success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” – it’s as simple as that.
I could end this piece here, but you and I both know that that’s not the way how success is actually perceived. So as a result, I’m going to talk to you about how it’s measured by society and how I personally believe it should be measured.
Everything these days is “goals”; that relationship you see on Instagram, the fancy house, the cars, the clothes, the watches, the holidays, the fame, the status.
Success has become a synonym for wealth. We measure the degree to which someone is successful by their net worth and the expensive goods they own. We look at their financial status and assume a certain level of success associated with that person. If he or she is rich, well then they must be successful… On the contrary someone in a “mediocre” house with a pretty average car surely can’t a person of success, right?
The media (and social media) has had a prominent impact on our psychology and so the indulgence in consumerism and its materialistic view of success has continued to grow exponentially. However, it’s also important to note that these attitudes were formed long before the rise of the media. For centuries, people have sought various forms of wealth (such as gold) – kings and queens have surrounded themselves in an abundance of treasures and prosperity.
Maybe material desire is just part of human nature. Arguably, you could say that perhaps this is, in reality, success itself; to accumulate riches, financial security and material prosperity. Ultimately, this has been the view for hundreds and even thousands of years, hasn’t it?
Here’s what I think:
It’s personal. It’s subjective. It’s abstract.
I say this because I truly believe that there isn’t actually a right or wrong answer on what success is. Success is what it is to you and you alone. Success is to me what I believe it means to me. Everyone can be successful in their own right because everyone has their own measure of success.
Earl Nightingale in 1951 stated that “success is the progressive realisation of a worthy ideal”. It is a realisation of where you are now, where you are progressing towards and the worthiness of that destination to you. It could be an academic improvement in your grades from a C grade to an A grade. It could be an improvement in your athletic performance. It could be an increase in your financial earnings… All of these are forms of success and are just as worthy as each other.
It’s all dependent on what you’re aiming for. The “accomplishment of an aim or purpose” is a success of an end goal. Even on the way to achieving that goal there are small successes made on the way, every step forward is a step of success. You should look out for these – identify the small successes that you make on a regular basis. This can keep you motivated and it can help you to sustain productivity. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you’ve still got a long way to go to reach your end goal, it makes it feel impossible and unattainable. But looking back on your small successes on the way can fuel your progression. As Tony Robbins has stated on countless occasions already, “progress breeds happiness”.
To me, success is found in fulfilment, progress and a state of happiness.
Yes, of course I want financial success and lots of it but there’s more to it than just that; I look for success in health, in family, in friendship, in my academics, in my personal development and so on.
Success is about winning on the way to achieving a goal, during the completion of it and the steps you take afterwards. Success is about finding happiness in what you do now and what you’re striving towards. It’s about the pursuit and the chase – the one that never ends and energises you to carry on. There is no end point; you’ve got to keep moving forward, one success after another, one loss after another, and one win after another. I believe that this is part of success.
So define success on your own terms and don’t allow someone else to measure it by theirs. Looking at your success using another person’s viewpoint is like attempting to measure your height with weighing scales.
Success is in you, by you and for you.