Inside: What does being successful mean to you? Today we will explore how to define what success looks like in your life and focus on what matters most.

When you think of the word success, what image comes to mind? Many people think of it as wealth, fame, happiness, or some combination thereof.

The culture places a big emphasis on making money and defining success by how much you own. Advertising messages communicate that having certain luxury brands is the definition of success.

How do you know when you’ve ‘made it’? Is it when you’ve hit a particular income level or own a certain kind of car? How you define success has a big impact on your goals and your life.

It drives the decisions that you make and reflects what you value. Instead of thinking of success as an outward appearance, defining what success is in your life is much more about knowing what is most important to you.

defining success in your life

How to define what success looks like in your life: The new formula

If you are reading this article, chances are you’ve decided it’s about time to redefine what success looks like in your life. Here’s a useful formula that will help you write your own definition of success.

1. Lifestyle design

What do YOU envision as an ideal lifestyle? This can mean a whole lot of things, including health, family, social life, and how you spend your free time.

How would you like to spend your day-to-day? What is something you’d like to do more of? Are you currently content with your lifestyle?

Reflect on how you want to spend your time including your vocation as well as your free time.

2. Balance

While we may not be able to spend every second of every day doing what we love, it’s important to balance our responsibilities with activities we truly enjoy doing. That means having enough free time to spend with people we love as well as time for practicing self-care.

Ask yourself: What are the things you enjoy doing the most? Are you currently balancing your life in order to have enough time to do things you enjoy? If not, what are the steps could you take to achieve a more balanced lifestyle?

While having balance is ideal, it can also feel like an elusive, if not impossible, goal. Balance is not always achievable. There are seasons in life or circumstances that you just have to deal with and get through at times. If you’re in survival mode, success can simply be making it through each day.

3. Financial stability

Becoming a multi-millionaire may be the quintessential idea of modern success. While I’m sure most of us wouldn’t mind waking up tomorrow with a healthy amount in our bank account, having excessive amounts of money is not the be-all-end-all.

I’d venture to guess that many who’ve amassed a great amount of wealth, didn’t instantly find themselves feeling fulfilled. It turns out money does not solve all of life’s problems.

However, that is not to say that money doesn’t have any impact on your life.

While money isn’t everything in life, we can’t deny that it’s necessary to design your life the way you want to. Your definition of success doesn’t have to mean making tons of money. You can simply aim for whatever financial stability would look like for you.

This means:

How much money would you need in order to live comfortably? How much of that would you be able to spend on activities that bring you joy?

What is the exact number you need in order to be able to save for a comfortable future? Would you like to give some of your money to those in need? If so, how much? 

Get specific here and ask yourself as many questions as you possibly can. Think of money as a tool to help you achieve goals that are meaningful to you.

defining success in your life

4. Freedom

Freedom can come in various forms from financial freedom to flexibility with your time and where you live.

How much freedom would you like to have? While many people prefer a routine, others like to have the ability to be spontaneous. This can look like traveling on a regular basis, being able to say yes to last-minute outings, or simply having more free time to do activities they enjoy.

Ask yourself: What would freedom look like for you? What would you need to have that type of freedom? What do you want to be able to do with your time? Is traveling important to you? Would you like more time in your days to learn new things?

5. Character & values

In an Instagram world, it’s easy to look at other people’s lives and assume that they’re perfect. However, that’s never accurate and comparison will steal your joy.

Success is not all about what you do or don’t have. While Mother Theresa chose to live with and care for the poor, that doesn’t mean she was unsuccessful. She aligned her life with her values and that is what I’d consider a success.

Who you are and how you live that out in the world matters more than what you own.

Living simply especially in a culture that focuses on consumerism can be challenging. People focus on stuff as a measure of success, which is why it’s important to define what success looks like in your life. Other people’s definitions don’t matter, but yours does.

A big benefit of living simply is that it frees you up to pursue what matters most to you. Living with less allows you to break the cycle of spending your time to make more money to buy more things. It gives you the freedom to focus more of your time and attention on what you care about.

Working to define what success looks like in your life is a personal process. Consider what matters most to you. How do you want to show up in the world? What impact do you want to make on others? What do you feel motivated by? What do you want to be remembered for?

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Things to remember when defining success in your life

As you weave together your own definition of success, keep in mind the following:

View success as a process

Most people think of success as “big” achievements. While I totally encourage you to go after your biggest dreams, only looking at the bigger picture can negatively affect you.

Instead of only looking forward to the end goal, I recommend looking at success as small, short-term wins (i.e. reaching daily, weekly, and monthly goals).

Not only will looking at success as a process help you feel less overwhelmed about the whole thing, but it will keep you focused on small accomplishments that will ultimately add up into big achievements as you continue to work consistently on meeting your goals.

Your definition of success may change over time

Over the course of our lives, the way we see the world and our priorities may change. As a result, so may our definition of success.

What seemed important as a single young adult may look quite different after being married and having kids. Your values and what is most important to you can change as you grow.

As we move through life, so will our definition of success, so it’s imperative to go with the flow, revise, and adjust as needed. 

defining success in your life

Success isn’t all about your job

“Find something you love to do, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” ~Harvey MacKay

While this may be an inspiring quote for those who are able to work in a job that they are passionate about, it isn’t a realistic goal for everyone.

And it can also set up false expectations. A job doesn’t have to be the most fulfilling thing you’ve ever done or be something that you love in and of itself. It can simply be a means to an end.

In a follow your bliss culture, we can get inaccurate ideas about what work is supposed to look like. Sometimes work is just work. And you work hard at maybe something you don’t love because it’s what is needed to pay your bills.

Hopefully, the job also allows you time to spend on things you do love, but it’s ok if the job itself is just a job and not your life’s passion. The money from it may give you the freedom and flexibility for those endeavors.

If you’re a stay-at-home mama, your job may feel all-consuming and doesn’t bring in a paycheck. In this season, your definition of productivity looks very different and that’s ok too!

Success is feeling good about your choices

At the end of the day, success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel good about the choices you’ve made. No person is without their mistakes, but you learn and grow through the process.

Your version of success doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, but it’s important that it’s a definition you feel good about and that is meaningful to you.

Knowing what success looks like for your life will help clarify your goals as you know what you’re aiming for.

How do you define what success looks like in your life?

Ultimately, the way that you define success will lead you toward living a more contented life that is aligned with your values.

How would you define success? Let me know your thoughts in the comment sections down below!

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3 Comments

  1. I loved this post Julianna. I especially enjoyed the part about work being work. I have been cleaning houses for over 15 years. Obviously, it’s not a power career but it has allowed me the time to pursue volunteer work that is very important to me and lead the flexible life I need. It has also allowed me to start doing what I love for work which will eventually take over. For me, my definition of success has nothing to do with money or things because if you have all the money and things but you don’t have time to be with your family and do the things you enjoy what is the point? To me, success is about building a life full of love, learning, and adventure and making just enough money to do that. It’s about balance and beauty in life!

  2. Thank you for the beautiful sharing! It’s so inspiring and exactly addressing my fears and concerns of resignation without a job. I want to (and I will) pursue things and life that I wanted to. Living with less is the most interesting and rewarding thing that I am currently doing. Thank you for your advices! Lovess..

  3. 2:07 PM
    Hi, thank you so much for this article. It means a lot, because years and years ago, I was part of a Business it. Required you to find out what their success would be. Like whether they wanted to travel or to pay their bills off by their moms a house. To be financially free debt free. So one is so forth but I wasn’t able to discuss those questions as easily as I do now, but I still use the concepts of our business that I was in to live my life. And I believe that I am a success from that and also most importantly, having got in my life, thanks have a great day.

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