The Definition of Success

What is the definition of success?  That is a question that everyone contemplates.  We all want to be successful.  But the meaning of success is different for each individual.

To some, success means a good paying job, nice home, nice car and all the material things to make them feel good. 

Others think it is accomplishing something and feeling satisfied with what life has to offer them.

Depending on where you are in your life and how you look at things, success has different meanings. 

It could mean accomplishing the task of riding a bicycle without training wheels, getting a driver's license, planting a vegetable garden, finishing college and so on. 

Kids have a different point of view as well.  We might see a place as a junkyard and a sloppy family life.  Kids will see it as a cool place to play hide and seek or great stuff to build a tree fort.  We might see a pool as a status symbol.  Kids will see it as a limited space to have fun. They'll see the friend with the stream or pond as an endless opportunity of fun.

Those that think success is the nice material things aren't always satisfied with it.  They're unhappy because they are trying to "keep up with Joneses."  That's because they are living their life to other people's expectations.


What Is the Dictionary's Definition of Success?

Definition of Success

According to the American Heritage dictionary, success has two definitions.  The first definition is - the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted.  The second is - the gaining of fame or prosperity.

Many people seem to associate success with the second definition - the gaining of fame or prosperity.  Think back to when you were a kid.  Most kids want to be a famous ball player, actor, singer and whatever else is in the limelight. 

I know I did.  I wanted to be on a TV show.  The same can be said for my kids.  They want to be on the Disney channel, be able to meet all the stars, have all the riches, etc. 

Usually, that's a phase and kids grow out of it.  But many of us don't.  We may no longer want to be on TV, but we do want all the riches and to be noticed.  So, we work hard at it.  We go to college expecting to get a high-paying first job. 

When that doesn't happen, we keep trying until we move up the ladder and become successful so that we can mingle with the other people like us.  But, are we happy living in a cookie cutter life?  Some of us are and some of us aren't.

That's when we should look at the first definition of success - the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted. 

I spoke with a woman who thought the meaning of success was all about fame and fortune.  She graduated with honors and went on to college.  Her first job was not as she expected.  It was entry level and low paying.  How could she face her former classmates?  She refused to go to class reunions because she hadn't become successful yet. 

In her eyes, she was living to what was expected of her.  She was so unhappy because she was living her life based on perceptions.  As time went on, she found that she was successful at other things.  Instead of moving up in corporate America, she got married and had a family. 

This woman changed her definition of success and set goals to achieve the things that would make her and her family happy.


Decide What the Definition of Success Is For You

You can feel successful in all areas of your life.  You just have to decide what the meaning of success is for you.  Look at your family life, personal life, financial situation and career aspirations.  Set goals in each area.  Work on them one at a time or all at once.

Remember, the definition of success is not necessarily all about the prosperity. It's about doing what you love, feeling like you accomplished something and being your own person.


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