What does success mean and how do you redefine success, considering it is very much a subjective concept. Some people treat it as the sole purpose of their life.
Inputting this word in Google results with “accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. At the most rudimentary level, yes. Success is that “Yay” moment when you aced an exam or your new recipe it’s actually edible (🙋been there). Let’s call it the 1 minute success-the state of accomplishment comes and goes but the consequences of the accomplishment itself stay. Then of course is the realisation of a great career, lifelong dream, health or family. Once achieved these types of accomplishments go beyond “1 minute” and can become defining moments of your life, prolonging the feeling of success: you become a successful man/woman.
Types of success
Let’s take a few people, who media and the public, consider successful and see what they have to say. Richard Branson ties success with happiness in that “true success should be measured by how happy you are.” Loved author Maya Angelou says that “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”, while tech man Bill Gates associates it with philanthropy- “It is also nice to feel like you made a difference — inventing something or raising kids or helping people in need.” These are people who have amassed great material wealth but that only came as a consequence of them following their dreams. Their primary goal was not to be well known and crazy rich but rather practice their ideas and passions (Business Insider 2018). Unknowingly, all successful people create a new definition of success, redefining it
At the other end of the spectrum we have inward, spiritual success, one that I associate with complete abandonment of desire for worldly possessions and dedication to becoming a fully enlightened, awoke being. Such people see life as a mere bleep in the grand scheme of things and consider “success in eternity” as primary goal. For this reason they dedicate their lives to cultivating morality, kindness and reaching a perfectly equilibrated mental state: one that sees things for what they truly are and is in perfect sync with all other Earthly matter.
So, there are plenty of ways in which you can redefine success: from being kind, to feeling happy, transform your hobby into work and becoming one with the spirit and the mind. How will YOU redefine success?
Success is gendered?
There are studies suggesting that success is even gendered with men associating it with the role of breadwinner, work performance and social status while women value sustaining meaningful relationships (Dyke and Murphy, 2006).
Same authors mention that there are two ways of measuring success: external, according to parameters of salary and organisational level, and internal measured according to personal criteria or how an individual’s feels about their accomplishments.
Angela Civitella, CEO and founder of Intinde, a business coaching service, says “…to really know what success entails, change how you perceive your place in this world and the life you live.” Read more here. She recommends you consider these three factors when measuring success: (Forbes 2018)
- Develop an intimate understanding of what success represents for you.
- Success is measured by a state of mind, not by tangibles.
- Don’t let others keep score of your victories.
In the end, much like everything in your life it’s up to you. But, If there’s one thing that is clear so far is that success is very personal. You choose how to define and measure it. This is good news since it means YOU are in control to define and redefine success as well as the steps and time it takes to get there. If you have a dream of what success means to you do not be be afraid to redefine it.
P.S. For me, success is living a clean life from more than one aspect; conduct my actions without harming others, especially the natural world, take any opportunities that come my way and finally die without regrets.
- Business Insider, Shana Lebowitz (2018) “12 rich, powerful people share their surprising definitions of success”
- Lorraine S. Dyke & Steven A. Murphy (2006) “How We Define Success: A Qualitative Study of What Matters Most to Women and Men”. Springer
- Forbes, Angela Civitella (2018) “How You Should Really Be Measuring Success”