The true meaning of success

by Admin
Updated: July 27, 2020

Understanding the true meaning of success and why it is a concept that will not help you

My definition of the true meaning of success is completely achieving what you deliberately set out to do. Do you challenge yourself and win sometimes, always, never? Unfortunately, under normal circumstances, success is a concept that makes it easy to discredit anything you accomplish. No matter how successful you are, it’s possible to re-frame a goal to make it seem like you failed. We all do it to ourselves all the time. The smarter and more ambitious you are, the easier it is to put yourself down. This will not help you. The truth is that you are already successful: It’s your starting point, not your destination.

Suppose your goal is to make $100,000 from a particular activity in the next 3 months. There’s nothing wrong with setting a goal like this. It’s a well-defined goal that will mark you as successful if you achieve it. The problem is, by definition, it will also mark you as unsuccessful if you don’t.

It’s all relative

If it takes 3 months + one day, you have technically failed. If you achieve $99,999.99 you have technically failed. You’re not going to make excuses are you. What about $80,000? That’s success by a lot of people’s standards. What if you fully achieve your goal and then discover that all your friends made 10 times that much?

It was too easy

Suppose you achieve your goal. Are you really successful or should you have aimed higher?

You needed to aim high

Perhaps you fell very short of your goal but wouldn’t have achieved even that much if you hadn’t aimed so high to begin with.

It only counts if it’s intended

Suppose you make $10,000 and get a windfall of $90,000. Are you still successful?

Success has to feel like success

Suppose you achieve your main goal but miss one or more of your other goals? Suppose you achieve everything but aren’t happy?

That was then, this is now

Ambitious people never stop to think about the successes of the past. It’s all about what we haven’t done yet.

You are already successful!

You survived being a teenager. Everything else is gravy.

It’s not really about you anyway

Whether or not you are perceived to be successful is the prerogative of others and this is where notions of success can really affect you. Understanding how others feel about you - and why - is important.

More info

Infographic by Thermosoft

Making it in America: An interesting poll about what success looks like to the average American was conducted by Thermosoft (January, 2018) and reviewed at

While a significant proportion of respondents are actively pursuing more income, the greater majority want the freedom they believe money can provide. The poll suggests most people have a fairly reasonable view of how much wealth is needed.

There are many TED Talks on the subject of success.

I normally recommend avoiding success quotes but some can change and your perception in useful ways - has some good thoughts about some good thoughts.

Three alternative ways to measure your success which apply to teams as well as individuals are described at

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