Being Successful Depends on Your Definition

How do you define success? It’s not a trick question. It’s also not an answer you’ll find in a quick Google search or by dusting off your Webster’s dictionary. This isn’t about a broad-brush definition the world accepts or the terms your parents laid out for you in your youth. It’s not about what your boss thinks or what your peer group believes. This is about you. It’s important for you to clearly connect with your personal success criteria because you will never find fulfillment living someone else’s dream. How do you measure success today? Ultimately that’s something you’ll need to flesh out on your own. If you need some inspiration to find your course, let’s take a look at how some others are measuring whether they hit the mark.

Success = Satisfaction

By most definitions, basketball coach John Wooden would be deemed a success. He led the UCLA basketball team to seven consecutive NCAA national championships. It’s an unheard-of feat. The teams he coached would win a total of 620 games and 10 national titles. Yet his team’s record did not define Wooden’s success criteria. “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming,” he once said.

Success = Balance

For many, hitting the mark in their career can be a hollow victory if it comes by sacrificing other facets of their life. For those individuals, success is found more in achieving a balance between professional and personal lives. As Zig Ziglar said, “I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”

Success = Impact

“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives” said First Lady Michelle Obama. It’s not about changing the world. It’s not about making millions and giving it all away. It’s about leaving the world better than you found it. Start small. Open the door for the parent struggling with a stroller. Volunteer. Offer smiles to those you pass. Make random acts of kindness part of your daily routine. Ripples of difference eventually make big waves

Success = Happy

Forget the size of your paycheck, the job title, the square footage of your home or the type of car you drive. Are you happy? When you take stock of your life – professional and personal – are you happy? "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it," said Maya Angelou. You may need to flesh out your personal success perspective before you can check this box off. It’s hard to be happy when we’re struggling to reach someone else’s definition. Identify yours and then measure it by Maya’s litmus test. So what is your definition of success? When you reach the end of your life, what factors will you look back on to determine how successful your life was? If you need a little help fleshing out your definition, let’s talk. Contact my office for a chat: 917-992-2928. Or email