Monday, 11 March 2019

Establishing A Personal Meaning Of Success

'Success' is very easy to pigeonhole into one distinctive definition. Society uses the term success in every day language to define a variety of material things, whether that's a large home, a well-paid job, or a flashy car. We also use success to describe milestones in our life that it's commonly expected for everyone to achieve, for example getting married, having children, or being well-travelled. We describe our children as successful if they achieve a high academic score, we describe our friends as successful if they've married and settled down, we describe ourselves as successful if we achieve a goal we've been working towards. We're constantly pushing an overarching idea of what it means to be successful, and reinforcing that idea by sharing our moments of success with the world. 

But what happens when a person doesn't meet these requirements? What happens when we simply live a normal life, without any major luxuries; when we don't settle down with a significant other, or have a family of our own; when we don't work towards anything other than to live a happy and comfortable life? Does this mean we're unsuccessful?

My personal belief is that the definition of success varies between each individual. Thankfully, there are many articles, journals and voices on the internet that preach this idea and share their different versions of what success means to them. However, I do think it can be difficult for those voices to be heard when it's so common in our society to be force-fed their idea of what it means to be successful. And it can be quite difficult to push against this version because a lot of the time we genuinely do want the things they're telling us we want. 
Do I want to live a stable and comfortable life? Yes.
Do I want to see more of the world? Yes.
Do I want to raise a family? Yes.
But simply because I want those things shouldn't mean that I'm any lesser without them.

A couple of weeks ago, youtuber Anna Akana made a video on self-worth. I believe self-worth is a huge topic of discussion, but a lot of the things she mentioned in that video related heavily to what I was thinking about success. She spoke about what life might be like if all of the exterior aspects, i.e. a career, friends, a safe home, etc. were removed; if all that was left was the person themselves. Would she happy? Would she still class herself as successful, even without all of the things she had worked hard to bring into her life? Can I classify myself as a successful person based on simply, myself?

Whilst I wouldn't wholeheartedly define this as what success means to me, I realised that I wanted it to be a contributing factor. I want to work on being happy with who I am as a person, more than I want to be happy with the exterior things I've achieved. I want to adapt my idea of success to include being the best version of myself that I can be, and continue to grow, adapt and explore who I am as a person, and who I could be. I want to ensure that even without any of the exterior measures of success our society tells us I need to have, I am still a successful human.  And then, by establishing this inner idea of success, I can more safely work on those outer ideas. I can strive, push, and work for the aspects of life that I want to achieve in a healthy manner, because I know that they are a bonus and not a necessity to my life. 

I'm still working on my definition of success, and I think it's important that we focus on these individual ideas. One person might die a happy soul if they spend their entire life travelling; for another it might be to raise a wonderful family; for someone else it may be to live a luxurious lifestyle. Everyone has their own definition of how to live their own life, and this is exactly what we should strive for. It becomes an issue when someone projects their idea onto another person, suggesting their life isn't successful because it doesn't match how you define success. 
I think it's time for society to be a bit more open-minded, and accept that everyone is unique in what matters to them, and if you're someone who hasn't achieved the things you feel you're supposed to have achieved by now, I can guarantee you are more successful than you think you are!

What does success mean to you?



  1. Thought provoking post! I don't think "success" is something I really even think about. Well, in terms of society's version of success. I think of it more as a day to day thing: Did I accomplish everything on my to-do list? Did I get my workout in today? Did my new dinner recipe turn out delicious? SUCCESS!! haha. I mean of course hitting those big life-long milestones also define your success but no, I don't think they are what makes a person successful. I think its all in how you view yourself and your achievements no matter how big or small :)

    Renee @ Maritime Mama

    1. I definitely agree with all and any achievements being a success - no matter the size! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post <3 x

  2. This is a great perspective. Society tells us getting married, having a family, and a high-paying job deems someone successful, but if this isn't what brings someone joy, then are they really successful? I agree success is when you get to a place where you are happy with your life and where your life is headed, and that may be different for everyone.

    1. I agree! Everyone has different goals and aspirations so it's only natural we define success differently as well <3 x

  3. I wrote a very heart-felt article about this exact subject last year, you can read it here:

    Basically I think having a family, job and a big house doesn't mean you're successful at all. I know plenty of people who have all that and are the most miserable ever. Success is determined by whether you're able to bounce back from a setback and turn it into a win. Or does that sound completely odd? :)

    Teresa | Outlandish Blog💫

    1. I think those things can mean success to various people - and if those are what brings you happiness then that's what to aim for! But I think it's important to remind people that they don't define every individuals level of success, and that it's most likely the ones who are unhappy who feel as though everyone needs to reach for the same things x

  4. I adored reading this blog post and I feel like it was something that I really needed to read at this moment in time!

    Danielle xx


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