What is Success?

There are many definitions of success out there, but the truth is: success means different things to different people. When I ask people what their definition of success is, the answers are as varied as the day is long. I often hear the following definitions of success: making a difference, health, financial security, independence, happiness, leaving a legacy, providing for my family, being loyal, wealth, recognition, raising respectful children, contentment, freedom, satisfaction, faithfulness, achievement, peace, and being respected.

The reality is this: defining success is a personal endeavor. You have to define what success means in your life. We often encounter trouble when we use someone else’s definition of success or a societal view of success to measure what we’ve achieved. This typically leads to feelings of failure and self-doubt.

It is also important to realize that your personal definition of success will change over time. When you’re in school, your definition of success is often vastly different than it is once you enter the working world. And if you have children, your definition can change dramatically as you embrace the responsibility of the child-raising journey. Various life events can alter our goals and attitudes about success.

In the book Seeds of Success: A Journey from Success to Significance, the message is to focus on understanding significance, which is defined as “success that matters to you.” What makes your life significant? 

For many of us, we can spend the early years of life chasing success as the world defines it but we often reach a point on our journey when we realize that what we’re seeking is significance. We let go of chasing someone else’s definition of success and begin to define what makes our life significant. This turning point can change everything. It can enliven us to a life that is more full and peaceful. It can also help us to better align the way we spend our time with our true priorities.

Reflect on your own journey from success to significance. Where are you today? And where would you like be? What matters most in your world?

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