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How Do You Define Success?

Posted May 22 2012 8:09pm

How do you define success?



Awards and recognition?

Impact on your community?

Something else?


According to success is defined as:

The favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.

The attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.

I had a conversation recently that opened my eyes to how I define success.

Growing up I learned the following:

  • Go to business school and make a lot of money. My interpretation: the only way to make money is to work in a corporate environment.
  • If you want to be financially successful, work isn’t fun. My interpretation: if you’re having fun at work, certainly you can’t charge for it.
  • No one needs to know your (personal) business. My interpretation: Not very good advice for a self-employed professional who 1) needs to let people know what she does and 2) Let people know, through stories, that you’re worth hiring and working with.

No matter how hard I try to convince myself, turns out I’m still holding on to those beliefs.

As a result, I brush over my accomplishments and fail to see how they equal success. If my actions aren’t making me money, then I’m not successful.


I’ve accomplished a lot since becoming self-employed. I took on leadership positions, launched an online magazine , started a networking group for health and wellness professionals , wrote a book and more. Some of the activities are income generating and some of them are not.

Does that make any one activity less successful than the other?

It depends on what you believe.

I gained this new awareness of how I hold on to, as my good friend KBK of KBK Wealth Connections would say “money scripts”, just last week, and it’s already made a difference in how I view my work and how I define success.

I can’t afford to be a professional volunteer. Money is important and quite frankly I like having it. Money allows you to pay the bills, enjoy your life and make a difference. At the same time I realize money is not the only indicator of success. You can do great work without getting paid a dime.

Because I’m self-employed, I need to create a model that does bring in income. Boundaries (because of my work, sometimes the lines are blurred) and a solid business model are important.

I’ve learned that:

  • Going to business school and making a lot of money isn’t the only indicator of success.
  • You can enjoy your work and make money. (In a corporate environment or otherwise)
  • When you’re self-employed sharing yourself and how you help people is important to creating a successful career.

(Side note: If I find that I’m volunteering more than I’m making money it’s time to 1) get a job or 2) re-evaluate my “work”.)

Thanks to one conversation I define success differently than I did a week ago. If I’m helping people feel better personally or professionally, whether I’m paid or not, that is success.

How about you? How do you define success? If you don’t feel successful are you holding on to old scripts and beliefs?

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