What Does Success Look Like to You?


Yesterday, I posed a question on Facebook I’ve been considering a lot lately:

How do you define success?

This usually happens whenever people congratulate me on my success, or say they’re proud of my success, or just use the term in relation to me or my work.

To be honest, it makes me very uneasy.

I immediately start feeling like a fraud because I don’t feel particularly successful. I have a BOATLOAD of student loans, credit card debt, a car note, a kid who always needs things, and a safety net with so many holes in it I’d probably drop right through (and I have…several times).

But to some people I’m “successful.” I work as a full-time writer, had my name in some magazines, met some celebrities, write books, I’ve traveled. I guess my life *looks* successful to them, even though it doesn’t actually feel that way to me.

Why? It comes down to how we see it.

My Facebook pals had some great insights.

One person said, “It’s more mental. The satisfaction gained from better choices, lessons learned, and believing in oneself. Although I love nice shit success isn’t at all material gains for me.”

Another said success was “doing something I love each day.”

Yet another said they felt successful  “any day that I end feeling fulfilled, joyful, and that I’ve brought value to others, whether or not I am compensated for it, yet quite nice when I am compensated well for my work.”

To be honest, I’m not sure how I define success. I can get all new agey and say that I’ll feel successful when I’m completely happy with myself. But seriously? My definition of success is probably tied too closely to money. And being that–as a freelancer–my money is often cracking jokes and I have to juggle this and that, I don’t feel successful because I don’t feel free.

To me, success = freedom.

Freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. That’s what success looks like to me. And I’m not there yet.

For you, it might look different.

And that’s ok.

One thing I’m continually reminded of is that we can’t get caught up in other people’s definitions, paths, or journeys. Because if we do, we fail.

It’s not always easy to define your life on your own terms, but when you do…things start to fall into place. But does that make you a success?

I’m not so sure.

How do you define success? Please leave a comment below.

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  • http://teachgoodstuff.com/ Jennifer Kennedy

    Love this, Britni!

    When I first started my business, I was always looking around at others to define what success would look like for me. I said things like I wanted a house on the East Coast (that’s not true..I’m a West Coaster!!) or wanted to work on the beach (no thanks, I’d rather be jumping in the waves). I realized that I was using everyone else’s ideas to influence mine.

    To me, success is waking up each day and working towards my goals and dreams ( and not someone else’s). it’s about being able to have my own time and location freedom. Most importantly, it’s about being happy right where I am.

    • BritniDanielle

      Very interesting, I think you’re right. Our views of success are often informed by others’.

      That said, I love your def, too!

  • http://www.cheleneknight.com Chelene Knight

    This post could not have come at a better time! Yesterday I was asked “Do you feel different?” in reference to the recent launch of my book, Braided Skin, getting the cover of a local newspaper, radio shows etc. And my answer was “No. I don’t feel different.” I had to think about this a bit more later and asked myself “why?” what truly defines success to me? I think this is a very personal thing. I do feel a very big sense of accomplishment every day, especially coming from a rough childhood and having the odds stacked against me (as so many of us do), being a single, working, tired parent too, but still not feeling success. To me the definition is a combination of many things: Setting major goals and reaching them, continuing to set goals and reach them (this must be continuous), continuing to educate yourself, having the freedom to to feel financially stable, and to be able to take pleasure in this “success”

    I do feel more happy than successful. I feel more accomplished than successful. This is a good thing too.

    I totally get what you mean about the debt and the inability to see the success, especially when everyone arounds you keeps congratulating you. I myself don’t “feel different” for those exact reasons. I’m still tired, still struggling financially, and the daily grind is still the same. Sometimes there isn’t time and/or energy to feel this “success”

    But hey, at least we are on the right path!

    • BritniDanielle

      CONGRATS ON YOUR BOOK! That’s major…..and yes…I feel you. We’re on the right path :)