What does success mean to you

What does “success” mean to you? [PMP #102]

When you sign up to my email list, as part of my onboarding emails, I ask subscribers a very simple question:

What does “success” mean to you?

I love this question as it gets so many different responses. And it’s great to see how often “success” has very little to do with fame and fortune.

Don't want to read this post, listen instead:

Success is a funny subject. It’s so easy to look at other “successful” people and feel jealous. For example, look at people like Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk. These two high-profile entrepreneurs run some of the most cutting-edge companies in the world. Personally, they’re worth more than a lot of third-world countries and are the epitome of “success”. And yet, would you trade places with them?

Personally, I wouldn’t want the responsibility that Mark Zuckerberg has who’s currently being scrutinised like crazy as he deals with Facebook privacy issues. And I wouldn’t want to endure the stress that I’m sure Elon Musk is experiencing as he contends with the challenges of growing multiple high-tech companies.

A few years ago I wrote about how you should be careful comparing yourself to others. With this in mind, forget about what other people are doing. Forget about traditional definitions of success that include money, fame and power. Instead, define your own version of success and let this guide your decisions and goals.

Comparison is the thief of joy - Theodore RooseveltClick To Tweet

These are some of the things I think about when it comes to success:

  • I want to live life on my terms.
  • I want to achieve personal health and fitness goals.
  • I want to travel and seek adventure.
  • I want enough time to relax, play and have fun.
  • I want to feel fulfilled by the work that we do.
  • I want to keep growing and learning.

And looking at some of the responses to my email, here are some of the things other people define as success:

  • Contributing to the lives of others.
  • Making a difference (no matter how small).
  • Making friends and connect with others.
  • Achieving inner peace.
  • Spiritual and emotional freedom.
  • Financial and location independence.
  • Affection from others.
  • Pushing to be the best version of yourself.
  • Enjoying life, being present and forgetting about your problems.
  • Overcoming challenges.

It feels kind of cliche bringing this up as I feel most people have seen this video, but in case you haven’t, definitely listen to what Alan Watts has to say on this subject:

He’s basically talking about the same thing, right? What do you desire? What does success mean to you?

And he makes such a great point. It’s so important to ask yourself this question about what success means to you (or what you desire). If you don’t, you risk living life with less sense of direction and wasting your time chasing other people’s ideas of success.

One of the most practical books I’ve read on this subject is The Winners Bible by Dr Kerry Spackman. The book does a fantastic job at bridging the gap between theory and practice. As you read the book, you’re required to create your own “winners bible”. This is a collection of notes that you can turn to when you need motivation and clarity on your goals and vision. In your own winners bible, you have to define:

  • What you’re grateful for and what makes you happy.
  • Your “wheel of life” i.e. the people, values, hobbies and things that are important to you.
  • Your intrinsic drivers and an “unshakeable belief”.
  • Your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Career and personal goals and aspirations.

To this day, I still go back and use my own winner's bible whenever I need to step back and evaluate my priorities.

Whatever technique you use, take some time every now and then to reflect and revisit this question – what does “success” mean to you? It’s so important for helping us to plan and use our time in the most effective ways.

And if you want to share your own definition of success, leave me a comment below!