How Do You Define Success?

Everyone wants to find success in life. Isn't that why you're here? On your path to finding success, you want to overcome the challenges that you face. You want to live the life that you know you could and should have. If you want to be successful, the first question that you need to answer is "what does success mean to me?"

One of the biggest reasons I see for people being discontented with their lives is that they are chasing someone else's dreams. Instead of taking the time to reflect on what they really want out of life, they adopt what society or popular culture defines as success and then waste their time reaching for it.

Ask the average person on the street what it means to be successful and the most common answer will be "to have a lot of money." Want to be successful? "You got to make that all mighty dollar!" They say you can't be a success unless you've got the big house, the fancy car, or live in the right area of town. If that is true, then why are suicide rates and alcoholism higher in the high-income areas instead of in the poverty-level neighborhoods? Could it be that people are reaching for what society defines as a success only to find that they are left feeling unfulfilled?

Let me tell you the story of one of the most successful men I have ever met.

He graduated from a very prestigious university and received his doctorate in metallurgy. Went to work for a major steel company and quickly worked his way up the ladder to an executive VP position. Needless to say, he was making a very comfortable living.

In his early 40's he decided that, despite his many accomplishments, he needed a break. He took an extended leave of absence from his job and along with his wife he set off for Europe.

Considering his resources, they took with them what many would have thought laughably little. Their entire kit consisted of two thousand dollars, basic backpacking equipment and one credit card for emergencies only.

For a little over two years they hiked around the continent paying their way by working odd jobs, mostly for farmers; sleeping in hostiles, on the side of the road, or in people's barns. Along the way, they meet many wonderful people, had a baby, and found what real happiness meant for them.

Returning home, he quit his job, bought a small farm, and started making hand-forged custom knives. He still does some consulting work, but most days you will find him hammering steel in his shop and find his wife either in their garden or in the kitchen canning and preserving their latest harvest.

To many, he gave up a successful life; but to him, he discovered one. As he expressed it to me, "The problem with winning the rat race is that you're still a rat. I figured out the only way to really win was to play my own game."

Do you want to be happy? Do you want to feel fulfilled? Do you want to be successful in life? Define your own success and then don't be afraid to go out and grab it by the ears.

My challenge for this week:

Define success in your own terms!

  1. Who do you want to become? This cannot be based on the expectations of others.

  2. Write down the qualities you view is necessary to consider yourself successful.

  3. How committed are you to developing and living out those success qualities?

  4. What behavior changes will be necessary to live out your desired life?

  5. Right now, begin making the necessary changes!

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