We Should Define Our Own Meaning of Success

Most, if not all, of us, want to be successful. However, success may mean differently for each of us.

For some, success is having a high position and hefty compensation on their job. Others will view success as having a specific amount under their name, a car, or a house.

On the other hand, some, like many parents, view themselves as successful once their children graduate from college.

While for some, success may mean working for their passion or things that make an impact.

However, the question you need to answer is, how do you view success, and when can you say that you’re successful?

What is Success?

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Success means accomplishing a goal or purpose. Based on the definition, success may mean different to different people because our goals or ambitions will not be the same.

Success will also differ between cultures and traditions, which is why many people struggle to diverge from what was the norm and what they saw from previous generations.

For instance, until now, success is still often viewed as a material or career accomplishment. We often say someone is successful if he or she holds a special job title or earns a six-figure monthly salary.

Other times, we may view someone as successful based on the size of their house, the type of their cars, or through their facade of social media posts.

However, we don’t have to follow the norm. We don’t have to conform to society’s definition of success, which can lure us into the rat race.

My Paradigm Shift About Success

I graduated in 2014 and started working soon after. During that time, my view of success is to be at least a manager in our company and earn enough to live comfortably in Metro Manila.

However, I saw a random LinkedIn post that completely shattered my perspective about how success is perceived and changed the trajectory of my career and personal life.

Below is the LinkedIn post by Steve Crider that has helped me realize that how we define success is different for everyone.

I’ve constantly kept a screenshot of this post as a reminder that there is more to life than climbing the corporate ladder.

A random LinkedIn post I read around 2016 or 2017 changed my perspective on success.

Years later, I still go back to this post and think about how my life has changed after redefining my meaning of success.

My perspective about success.

My definition of success has been closely related to my “whys.” Though it has undergone some levels of variation but still targets the same goals.

First, I believe in the beauty of simple living and obtaining personal peace, which is one of the reasons why I returned to my home province. This also led to more time spent with my family and meeting the love of my life.

I learned that true peace, which transcends all understanding, can be obtained through Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:7). I also want to share the love I received from God with others.

I also hope to be an agent of change by sharing what I know with others. This is one of the reasons why I became an educator.

Though I am currently outside of the academe sector, I am still teaching in some capacity and through this blog.

I don’t view any amount of money as an important goal or checkpoint in life, but I still want to be accountable for the opportunities God has given me.

Why should we have our definition of success?

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If we don’t define what success means to us, other people will do it for us, and we won’t realize that we are living other people’s dreams and perceptions of success.

By defining our meaning of success, we can live a life that better suits our dreams and aspirations. We will also avoid succumbing to society’s pressure that we need a lot of money, a high position of power, and big-ticket material possessions.

By defining our meaning of success, we don’t have to wait for other people’s opinions and confirmations before we can say we are successful.

Remember, success to different people may look differently.

How Can You Set Your Success Goals?

1. Success should reflect your values.

It is important that your idea of success also reflects the values that you hold. What you believe and aim for will greatly matter when identifying your goals.

For instance, you believe in helping young people with their education. Though there are many ways to achieve this goal, you decided to be a teacher.

Then as you pursued that goal and helped children and young people learn, you had the feeling of accomplishment aligned with your purpose, making you successful – even if other people may say otherwise.

2. You need to set SMART goals.

We must remember that a goal must be smart to take it closer to reality. We often like to think about future “plans” without considering many things, downgrading our plans into a dream.

Similar to what we often hear in school, our goals must be SMART.

1. S — Specific
2. M — Measurable
3. A — Achievable
4. R — Relevant
5. T — Time-bound

By having a SMART goal, success is easier to obtain because we can finally picture it.

3. You must be willing to sacrifice and even suffer at times.

Another common misconception when deciding about our goals, particularly when we’re aiming for our “passion,” is we think of it as something that will always make us happy.

On the contrary, working on something truly worthwhile will require a lot of sacrifices and even push us to suffer at times.

This may contradict what some people think working towards a goal means.

Remember that success, like many things in life, require tradeoffs. 

For instance, when I decided to return to the province to teach and live a simpler life, I had to sacrifice career opportunities, conveniences, and monetary gains. But for me, those things mean little compared to what I received.

So, if you are working on something you believe you are passionate about, don’t feel down when things are not going how you want them to. 

Think of them as obstacles you must overcome so your success story may be complete.

How to know if you’re successful?

We often hear about KPIs or key performance indicators in our jobs, quantifiable measurements that help us or the management decide whether we are successful in an endeavor.

However, we don’t need intricate indicators before we can say we are successful – though we still need some sort of indicators.

It may be as simple as you see fit but still answers a goal or purpose you set for yourself or for others.

Success may sometimes mean helping less fortunate people reach their potential through education, guiding your children to a better path, or it can be a company position or material possessions.

Remember that your success may differ from your friends or family. As Steve Crider said in that old LinkedIn post – You Do You.

Final Thought

“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”

Proverbs 16:9 NIV

Our definition of success will not be the same as others, but I believe that as we continue to do our part and ask for God’s guidance, we will always be in a better position than we had dreamed of.

May God bless you on your path to success.

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