How do you define success? How do the people around you define success? And why does our definition of success matter? In our previous article “How to Have a Successful Life” we touched on the subject of how to define success focusing on financial and relationship success. Although there are many ways in which we can define success not any one person will define success the same way. It is important to have a clear vision of what success means to you as without a plan for success you could become lost without direction. This article will address, how do people define success, and will help you develop a clear picture of what success means to you.

Why Does Defining Success Matter?

If you’ve ever felt like you’re not successful it might just be that you’re defining success the wrong way. Do you set over the top goals and consider yourself a failure if you don’t meet them? Or are you grateful for your successes along the way? Defining what success means to you can go a long way into helping you live a successful life.

If you are constantly comparing yourself to others you might not be giving yourself credit for all the success you have created. Take a moment to right down all the amazing things that you have done. What are your education credentials, what projects have you worked on, what do you do that makes you feel fulfilled? None of these examples have anything to do with a finance but all can be signs of a successful life.

Although there is nothing wrong with defining success as a financial or material goal there is so much more that you can consider when defining success. A balanced approach to a successful life can help us feel successful even when experiencing ups and down.

Our Definitions of Success

In order to help understand the different ways in which we see success, we have broken down the types of success into four categories. Each are important and should be considered when developing your own definition of success.

  • Financial Success – Financial success involves the amount of income that you generate as well as the material things you have. There is nothing wrong with wanting to live comfortably, travel, and grow wealth. But choosing financial success as your exclusive definition of success can be lonely. Often when we think of success of other people we think of their financial success. Jeff Bezos is easily considered a successful person because of his wealth. But consider that there is so much more to a successful life than being wealthy.
  • Positional Success – If you’ve ever aspired to have a position that gives you power or control you may consider success to be power. It is a good thing to go after your goals and having big ones are great too! But without balance you might also feel isolated in a position of power. You might think of a world leader as being a successful person in a place of power. Undoubtedly, they have worked hard to gain their position, but most world leaders are more than just their title.
  • Relationship Success – If you find yourself striving for a work/life balance and consider your family and friendships most important then you may consider healthy relationships as a sign of success. There is no denying that we can feel immense joy and satisfaction in having strong friendships and close family bonds. We do need to consider what choices we make in ensuing we have time to nurture our relationships. You might consider taking a job that is closer to home but pays less in order to spend more time with family. But if the job doesn’t meet your financial obligations that can hurt your relationship’s success as well.
  • Developmental Success – What we do for ourselves and for others can be fulfilling. Many people enjoy continuous learning or giving back to others in physical or financial ways. Even when you feel stuck in other areas of your life you can always nurture your success in self development or giving back to others. This aspect of success can often be overlooked but simply “doing” can be a great definition of success.

Although you likely relate to one of these definitions of success more than the others you can hopefully find inspiration for a successful life in every category.

How Do Others Define Success?

When we think of successful people we often think of wealthy and powerful people. Like celebrities, high profile CEO’s and politicians. You may feel that “they have everything” so they are successful. But what do the wealthiest amongst us define success as?

Business Insider compiled an interesting article that highlights what some of the most financially successful people, like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, define success as. Although no person in the article defines success the same way not one of them cites their bank account or the size of their home in their definition of success.

Instead, many consider the relationships they have with others and what you do for others to be more important factors in success. Some also cite that your own personal sense of satisfaction relates to your success. Successful people share many common views including their definition of success. Consider learning about how successful people think when defining your own success.

Defining Your Own Success

It is important to remember that there is no right way to define success. Based on our own unique experiences and values we will all define success differently. It may be helpful to consider multiple aspects of life when defining your own version of success.

Don’t forget to stay true to your values when defining success. You don’t have to define success the same way other do. Always trust yourself first and know that you are capable of creating your own success no matter how you define it.

A well-balanced definition of success can help you feel fulfilled and successful even when experiencing ups and downs in life. Be grateful for all you have achieved in the past and go after your success with an open mind and you won’t go wrong.