Particularly in recent years, the question of what defines success has been one that has risen to the surface fairly frequently for me. The more people I have met who have accumulated a financial fortune, the more I have realized that success is not measured purely in monetary terms. I won’t lie, when I was younger, because of my exceptionally ‘humble’ beginnings, (yes, that’s another way of saying that we were poor), for a long time I thought that if only I could make a lot of money, all my problems and those of the people I cared about would be solved… but as I grew older, I realized that this was far from the truth. Yes, money is a great enabler, and I work hard towards earning more money, but for me, it really is all about what I believe is important, what outcomes I want from my efforts, and assessing why I want them. Sometimes the end can be achieved without money, and at other times, money is essential to the end. Irrespective of the role that money plays in helping me achieve an outcome though, my measure of success is determined by my priorities, and these priorities are linked directly to my sense of achievement.
We all have different priorities, lifestyles and goals, and these collectively form our perception of what comprises success. If your priorities are to have a mortgage-free home with a swimming pool, double garage and two cars, then if you attain these, you would consider yourself successful, as you would have achieved your prioritized goals. If however, all you want is a loving spouse and a family, then if you achieve this, then you’ll consider yourself successful. What’s important to bear in mind is that concept of success is a transient one. If you’re wondering what I mean by this, then consider the person who wanted and has the mortgage-free house etc. That success could result in happiness, but what happens if they contract a life-threatening illness? Their priorities would change, and what would be considered a success then, is when they beat that illness and achieve good health.
I find that a big misconception is that monetary gain is synonymous with success and happiness. I also find that it’s fairly common to hear ‘It’s easy for those with money to talk about how money doesn’t buy happiness.’ What I’m saying is that it’s not an either-or situation; it’s not all about money, and it’s not all about the absence of money. Instead there are countless measures of success and happiness, and these can change depending on priorities.
For me, when considering my priorities there are a few key points that I consistently revisit:
1) What difference do I want to make in the lives of others?
2) What am I passionate about?
3) What difference do I want to see in my own life?
When I consider my success in terms of these measures, then every small achievement becomes far more meaningful, and my motivation to accomplish more increases beyond measure.
(c) 2015, Noleen Mariapppen
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