What is your Personal Definition of Success?

Liesel Teversham

Liesel helps HSP introverts to embrace their sensitivity as a superpower, and overcome obstacles so they can thrive. She also works with clients to solve their health issues, and has authored 2 books. More here.

Published on 2016/01/28

About : Beliefs | Career | Goals | Strengths

SuccessChalkEditEvery year, as we wind down towards the end of the year, I take stock of what I accomplished, what was on my list, and what I want for the following year. In fact, I have a fun and detailed review process that I use at the end of every year to take a good look at how my year went, and how I plan to create the next year.

It’s usually amazing to see how many things I had on my list I can tick off at the end of the year –  almost without trying too hard. I believe there’s great power in writing down our intentions. It’s one of the first actions we can take to get our intentions from the unseen into the material world – either speaking it, or writing it down.

After that comes planning (in broad strokes, and the detailed action steps we can take) and then of course – only then, comes the physical actions towards reaching our dreams. On our way there, while taking action, we can still do things like visualising our ideal outcome, praying about it, getting more clarity, adjusting our steps as we get feedback around our actions, and letting go of wanting to control the outcome.

There are loads of things in our control that we can do, to move us forward in the direction of our dream. There are also loads of things completely outside of our control that we need to let go of so we can have peace as we go through our life journey.

Choices and Planning

This might be then, the perfect time of year, to start planning what we envision for ourselves. Do we want to stick around in the career or relationship we currently have? Are we 100% fulfilled and happy there? Or do we need to tweak our role, and adjust a few things, perhaps delegate or swap with a colleague, so we each do something we really love and enjoy?


Is it time for a transition to a different environment, work place or an entirely different career? Or might it just be time to clear out some triggers about colleagues , bosses and partners so we can enjoy the other parts of our current job or home environment?

Usually, in my experience, none of these options (except of course, if you’re already 100% fulfilled) happen overnight. We often take time to get clarity about what we want, and only then does it make snese we start taking action to find that new career or tweak the current one.


What I DO know is that all of them work best when we have a clear answer to a thought-provoking question. And that question is –

“What’s your personal definition of success?”

If we’re not clear on that, I can almost guarantee that we will not know when success hits us over the head! If we haven’t defined the type of things we measure success by, how can we possibly know if we’re successful in our career, or any other area in our life?

That’s my very short question for you today. If you had to sit back with a cup of your favourite beverage and really think deeply – What IS your personal definition of success?

It almost ties in to the discussion on values that I’ve posted about a few times. Almost without fail, our values can help us decide what success means to us.

Again, I’d like to re-iterate that success can mean different things to each of us – and not one of those definitions will be ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. They’re just different. And that’s why we each need to be exceptionally clear on our own definition of success. If we’re not, it’s too easy to be swayed by others’ definitions of success. That’s when we ‘compare and despair’ and feel less than others when we feel we don’t measure up to their definition of success.

So … what is it to you?

A certain amount of money (and here, I want to add a word of caution – that if you’re not clear on WHAT you want to use the money for, it also has no clear reason to come to you and I’d like to encourage you to think a little deeper than just a number!)

A certain rung on the career ladder, a particular role you want to step into? Then, I’d like to ask you also to think a little deeper than that. What do you believe that role will give you? When you’re there – how do you imagine you’d feel, and think about yourself? Again, think a little deeper than something external – that can disappear anytime without your control.

Please understand – I’m not making any of these wrong. I’m asking you to go deeper and think clearer than you’ve ever thought. This is your future, your life and if we continue to do what we’ve done before, we’ll continue to create the same results we’ve had before. Are you happy with your current results? YES? GREAT! No? Then I encourage you to go really, really deep with this question.

Personal ValuesAnother option is to look at your values list again. Are there values that you can include in your definition of success? For instance, to experience love and peace every day, no matter what your outward circumstances. Or, to treat others in a way that allows your AND their highest good to be  served. Or, to make a difference for one other human being every day. Or, to use your higher faculties of imagination to come up with new ideas to make the world a better place. Or, simply, to learn something new every day.

Can you see the diverse ideas possible for a personal definition of success? It doesn’t have to be something as concrete as a particular job, a particular role, a particular amount of money or a particular number of tasks ticked off your list.

A Great Example of a Success Definition

Someone I see as a mentor, an amazing person who runs his successful business completely from the heart, George Kao, describes it as follows:

“If you think success means to meet everyone else’s obligations for you, and everyone’s demands on your time, and you think success means to ‘do everything’ the media calls successful (like family, work and friend obligations, a hobby, a side business) – if you define success by what all the demands are, you will have a very unhealthy relationship with time.  Time is a limited and scarce resource given to us.“

“Success means that I’m using this day in a way that’s as connected to my Highest Source as possible. That I’m moving through my day with gentleness, love, calm focus, with flexibility and discipline.  ”   George encourages people to redefine success for themselves every day.

You can listen to his interview here.

I must admit, I had to think very carefully about my own personal definition of success. It’s so easy, I’m sure you’ll find, to be pulled in many different directions, all external, about how we ‘should’ be when we’re successful. We can so easily be drawn into what success means to other people and it may have nothing to do with how we secretly, really want to live our lives. But we’re drawn into it because it looks good, we think it’ll get us admiration or love. Status or power. Security.

For this question, we need to think very carefully.

For now, my definition of success is to serve others, in a way that ALSO serves my own highest good, to learn something every day, to use my experiences to grow and to work towards calm and peace in my inner world, no matter what the circumstances.

When I hold this in mind, in my current career, most of my days are a success. I can be busy with so many different tasks, maybe not even earn a cent on that day. But if I’ve replied to one email with a helpful answer, or read one paragraph from a book, my day was successful. If I can keep my inner calm even in the face of political dramas and people loosing their cool, my day was successful.

This is a work in progress as I discover more about myself and what makes me happy. It’s not set in stone, and neither is yours, when you define what success is for you.

So.. here’s your homework…

Get your favourite nourishing beverage. Set aside 30 minutes where you can think, ponder and consider your life without interruptions. Have a journal ready. Write down your thoughts around this question.

“What IS your personal definition of success?”

Only when we know the answer to that question, can we start looking at our life, career, relationships in the light of truth. Our personal truth. Not society or the media’s version. Let’s get real, and authentic, and honest with ourselves before another year gets too far down the line.

I love this time of year. It gives us a chance to dream, to put down some burdens and obligations and take an honest look inside. And to start looking at what we really, really desire and want to create.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share YOUR definition of success with us in the comments below?

Discover your personal definition of success with personal support.

It can be hard to do this development work by yourself.

If you need support, I highly recommend starting with discovering your unique strengths through a
scientific assessment, with a development journey to help you find your own definition of success.



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