Defining Success

There are several ways we can define success. If you are a successful person, you probably have everything you need and most of the things you want. You probably have money, confidence, a career you excel at, and enough time to spend doing the things you want.

The definition of success is tricky to pin down, though. The way one person defines success is completely different from another. To some people, it is abstract; they don’t have any definite goals to get them where they want to be. They have a vague idea of where they want to go. To others, it’s an exact step-by-step plan that means achieving their dreams.

I think success is getting to the place in life where you aren’t waiting anymore. It means enjoying things as they are and not just hunkering down trying to get past the next obstacle. It means not suffering in a terrible job or struggling through classes to prepare for a future 5+ years down the road. But that’s just my definition.

The Traditional Path

In high school, it gets drilled into your head that to succeed in life, you need to get good grades to go to college. Then you need to get good grades in college so you can get a good job that pays enough for you to buy a house and get married. Many people take this path in life, and lots of them are perfectly happy with the life this path gives them too.

I won’t say this path is easy or hard; it’s just one of your options. Following the traditional path lays things out more explicitly for you. The goals are clear, but you still get to decide on the details. Where you go to school and what kind of career you aim for is up to you.  

There will still be ups and downs; there will be moments where you get discouraged and face setbacks—failing a test, losing your job, breaking up with your significant other. Being a success means you can’t let that hold you back, though. It means studying harder, polishing up your resume, and putting yourself back out there (when you’re ready, of course).  

The Not So Traditional Path

The traditional path to success isn’t the only one, though. The not-so-traditional path can be trickier to navigate, and sometimes the end goals are harder to figure out. If you decide to start a business or be an artist, for example, where do you stop? When do you retire? How large do you need to grow? Those will all be things you need to decide to move forward.

Without a goal, it’s a lot easier to get stuck in the same place. If you’re happy with where you are, then that’s fine, but at what point do you curb your ambition? Having ambition is definitely something you’ll need on the not-so-traditional path. Anyone who decides on the not-so-traditional path will be paving their own way; without ambition, it’s too easy to live aimlessly.

This path is a lot vaguer than the traditional path. That’s because it takes so many different twists and turns that the traditional path doesn’t. It looks different depending on what you decide to do and how you decide to move forward. Maybe your path will overlap with the traditional one at some points and at others twist off into the unknown.

The exciting thing about this path is that you get to decide how to succeed and how you’ll measure your success freely. The setbacks you face will also be of your own making; life is a blank canvas you get to fill and judge all by yourself.


No matter what path you choose, it’s always better not to walk alone. Whether that means having close family, your most trusted friends, or a romantic partner to help support you. People you can share your sorrows and joys with are incredibly precious.

I’m not here to tell you that you absolutely need someone in your life, but it certainly makes things more… Well, more everything. More fun, more exciting, sometimes even more frustrating. Life just feels fuller when you’re not alone. However, you choose to fill your life is up to you. The best people to surround yourself with aren’t the ones you need; they’re the ones you want.

You never know when you’ll meet someone who will become important to you. Will they be a classmate you don’t talk to until the last week of class? Will they be a new coworker you decide to show the ropes to? Maybe you’ll meet them through a friend of a friend. Getting to meet new people is one of the greatest gifts we get in life.

Whatever You Choose

Having the confidence to continue down your chosen path is important. You need to be able to believe in yourself and your ability to move forward. It’s okay to get stuck for a little bit, but you don’t want to become complacent either. “Good enough” is not quite the same as being successful.

Setting goals you want to achieve and believe you can achieve is key. It’s easy to lose hope and wave off your dreams as something too far-fetched ever to happen. Make a plan that will help you get where you want to go so you can live without regrets. Hopefully, you’ll have plenty of people who can help motivate you too.

Honestly, a successful person isn’t someone who achieved every goal they set. A successful person is someone who treasures the relationships they forged and is satisfied that they did everything within their power to get to the places they wanted to go. Successful people don’t give up.

Successful people come in all shapes and sizes. They have all sorts of different temperaments too. If you want specifics, you can check out Forbes’ list of traits they have in common but don’t let that hold you back just because you don’t fit neatly into boxes made by other people.

If you want to succeed in life, there are a million things you can do. When you look back, forty years from now, will you be happy with the choices you made? Will you be able to enjoy where you end up? Feeling fulfilled with the things you accomplished and the loved ones you were able to cherish is the truest mark of success.

If you need help figuring out how to find fulfillment check out our blog all about it!

How do you define success?

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