What is Success?

The other day, I was listening to an audiobook in the car, when the narrator mentioned the word ‘success’.

Continuing what seems to be a ‘reflective’ part of life currently, it got me thinking about how I might define the word success or indeed whether I felt successful.

As a word or state, it’s very subjective and usually defaults to having a financial association – e.g. how much money you’ve got, haven’t got or feel like you should have.

Often, success is not considered in isolation, because in this busy life that we tend to lead, many people compare themselves with the next person in the street. In fact financially, it’s not unusual for people to compare themselves with everyone in the street. At worst, you might also worry about what the people in the street are thinking about you and how they measure you.

My reaction when thinking about this, is that it’s all a bit of a shame. We’re never really going to win that one, as there will always be someone with more. Whatever you judge more to be.

At the end of the day, it’s your life. Do you feel successful? How do you measure success?

It’s only fair that I try and answer what I consider to be some of those things that come to mind, that mean success to me. If I get to achieve the following or somewhere along the path, then on balance, I feel like I’m being successful.

Waking up in the morning & getting out of bed
It’s not a bad way to start the day and it’s more often than not, better than the alternative!  It’s fairly important to wake up.  So tick that one off every day and you’re winning already.

Having gratitude
It’s a recurring theme in my ramblings, but then I genuinely feel it’s so important to kick start my day this way and think about all the good things that I might have going on. You might feel that you do yoga, meditation or have an early morning walk in order to feel gratitude for life. Whatever works.

Having something to do once I wake up (A daily plan/purpose)
The ‘Why’ that is bandied around so much these days and although potentially overdone, it’s a viable question to ask ourselves. It’s good to have a think about what the day looks like and what would be good to achieve by the time my head hits the pillow again.

A happy family
This goes without saying and it’s imperative to not take both the parts and the sum of its parts for granted. It might not always be easy nor a straight line to achieve, but as long as you’re in Drive and not Reverse, you’re making progress. (Even if you do feel like a taxi driver for the kids.)

Feeling fit & healthy or at very least, having a plan that might get me there
Just doing something energetic and making it habit. The worst habit is one that consistently achieves nothing. Kick some goals. Get the help required to move forward. Then move forward.

Tick things off the list of things to do
I don’t mean just doing the shopping with a shopping list, but some meaty things or even a ton of small things that all add up to your overall meaty goal(s). Having a sense of achievement and accomplishing meaningful things, even if some of them are admin, is important to me for feeling productive and maintaining some self confidence that I matter in the world around us.

Spending time with people that you genuinely want to spend time with
Whether family, friends, workmates or acquaintances – if it feels easy, then you probably have it about right.  If it doesn’t, then re-evaluate who you’re spending time with or how you’re spending the time with them.  Make some adjustments.

Life-Work balance – making it feel like you’re gaining time
Not easy, but again, you know what you need to do. Make it habit. Once it’s a habit, it’s easy.  Work is central to life for us all to put food on the table but I believe it’s not the core of our lives.  People & time are. So  for me, it’s Life-Work balance and not the other way around.

Having things to look forward to
I swear this is the golden ticket. This, for me, is what has most times stopped the Groundhog Day feeling of being on the hamster wheel. Anticipation of something different, new and particularly outside of work, is what keeps us going. Go ahead and book that trip! Get some more experiences in your life, so that when you look back, you have memories, not just years of runway that have been gobbled up by time and nothing else.  Also not a pile of ‘stuff’.  Actual memories to smile and talk about.

Having a real laugh and having fun
How good does it make you feel? So find a way to laugh each day. Even if it’s reading a joke site or watching something funny on YouTube. About a year ago I organised a group of random mates together from around the neighbourhood, many of whom didn’t know each other beforehand, for some drinks and schnitzel at The Local. Simple stuff, basically I guess celebrating being alive when you break it down. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had so much fun.  The very cool thing is that no one tends to mention their work.  Suffice to say they’ve become a really popular catch up.

Learning something new
For me, this has started steam rolling lately. Maybe because I’m transitioning from a job I’ve had for quite a few years, but honestly, when you start learning something new, it’s hard to quench your thirst for more. Whether it’s reading an article, listening to an audio book about a subject that you’re interested in, watching a doco or Ted talk, learning about a new technology or learning about your family’s ancestry. Whatever. If you’re not learning then what are you doing?

Feeling like you’re making a difference in someone’s life
I’m enjoying living by this sort of mantra, whereby if you think of someone,  then get in touch. Even a quick text. Let someone know that someone is thinking of him or her.  It costs nothing but your time.  It not only makes their day and it certainly can make yours. I urge you to try it once a week. Who in your circle of old mates, family or an old work colleague could maybe do with some contact out of the blue.

Saying that you’ll do something and then doing it.
No matter what. Often you make plans and then closer to the time, you can often feel like you can’t be bothered and then find an excuse. Don’t do that. Stick to it. If you don’t, then you can’t really be disappointed when others let you down. You can’t have it both ways.

Living within your means
Having a budget and an understanding of keeping things in check. You have to splash out sometimes of course and you have to spend money where it’s necessary, however I still ask myself just before going to buy something whether I really need it in life or could I get by without it, putting the cash into something else that will benefit more people than just myself – e.g. my family or friends. I try and remind myself of what I have vs. worry about what I might not have.

Getting through the day!
We all have stuff going on and it’s not as simple as going to work or doing what keeps us busy each day, then feeling satisfied. There is still ‘life’ stuff always in the background. Always give yourself a pat on the back for making it through, as it ain’t always easy is it.

Having money is a bonus
Ultimately yes, money has the potential to provide us with a sense of freedom and calm, that allows the other items above to feel even sweeter when checked off a list – there is absolutely no doubt about that.

However, the common thread running through most of the above thoughts, is that these don’t have to cost much or in some cases, anything – yet they can make you feel the most successful person in the world.

So, I’ll ask myself the question again. Do I feel successful?

Overall, by standing back and looking across the spectrum of the parts to life, yeah you bet.

And that’s the thing.  There is just no way to be at the pinnacle in everything I don’t think.  In some areas, I’m not doing a great job at all.  However if I feel that I’m helping cut a path in pretty much the right direction for both our family and myself, whilst hopefully hanging onto the good stuff along the road, then the answer has to be Yes.  Absolutely!


Richard Poole – LinkedIn

The Key

4 Replies to “What is Success?”

    1. Wow – thanks so much LadyP. I’m not really sure what else to say…that definitely inspires me to write some more, so thank you for that. Take care.

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