How Do You Define Success?

define success

How do you define success? Is it based on how much money you have, how many friends you have, how popular you are?

Before you can achieve success it is important to clarify your thoughts, goals and desires.

You can't work towards something passionately when you aren't sure what the end result will be.

Success means many different things to different people. Unfortunately, the tendency is to view monetary gain as success.

However, financial wealth is only a small part of overall success.

Three Different Areas of Success

Because there are different areas of success, you can be successful in one area and unsuccessful in others.

In order to develop a plan for your success, you need to make your own list of areas that are relevant to you.

To achieve overall success in life, you'll need to examine your priorities in each area.

For many of us, there are 3 main components of success. In your personal plan for success, there may be even more.

As you evaluate your life be sure to include any areas that are important to you.

Here are the 3 main areas, along with some tips and techniques to help you evaluate your priorities and formulate your success plan:


Are you doing everything you can to improve your overall well–being? Maybe a change in diet and exercise is in order.

Take a moment to evaluate whether you've achieved success in this area or if there's room for improvement.

If your health can use a boost, make a plan to start implementing changes in your daily routine that will lead to a healthier lifestyle.


These questions can guide you to important considerations for your emotional success:

1. What have you learned so far that could help you do better in the future?

2. Is your marriage a happy one?

3. Are you satisfied with your relationships?

4. If you have children, do you feel successful in how you're raising them?


To evaluate your career, contemplate these questions:

1. What amount of income would make you happy?

2. Do you desire a higher status position?

3. What motivates you to do your best work?

4. Would you simply like to feel appreciated by your boss?

Any number of things can be used to measure your success when it comes to your career.

In your career evaluation, be sure to determine what strengths and weaknesses you have that can help or hinder you from achieving your goal.

Your Path to Success

Your path to success will have highs and lows throughout your life. There will be mistakes and disappointments.

You may experience a setback at some point. The beauty is that you can get back on track and move closer to your goals at any time.

You may achieve new levels of success at different times in your life and career. As you progress in your job, start a family, and get involved in giving back to your community, your definition of success may change, as do your priorities.

Go with the flow; it's okay for your outlook on life and your meaning of success to change over time.

Love what you do! Life is too short to be stuck doing something you despise. To achieve success in life, work with what you've got.

Focus on your strengths and interests and do the things that bring those to the forefront of your life.

Challenges and obstacles are opportunities for improvement and further success. Everyone has setbacks at some point in their lives. If we didn't, we wouldn't be human.

The successful individual has the confidence that he can and will do better!

Never underestimate the power that comes from persistence and experience and remember to enjoy the journey! 


    • Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank

      Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank 01/21/2013 5:14 a.m. #

      Success to me is being able to spend maximum amount of time with my loved ones and not having to worry about money or work.

      I would also like to have the opportunity to travel a lot.

      • Tackling Our Debt

        Tackling Our Debt 01/21/2013 10:40 a.m. #

        The true definition of financial freedom!

    • Savvy Scot

      Savvy Scot 01/21/2013 7:25 a.m. #

      GREAT post! So glad others are promoting that wealth does not necessarily equal success if the other pillars start to crumble!!

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/21/2013 10:41 a.m. #

        Thank you! You can have all the money in the world but if you don't have your health then what does it matter?

    • DC @ Young Adult Money

      DC @ Young Adult Money 01/21/2013 8:08 a.m. #

      I think our posts today go together well ;) I am definitely all about personal development and constantly re-evaluating priorities.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/21/2013 10:42 a.m. #

        It is so important to do that to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and not just physical health, but happy mind.

    • Jacob @ iHeartBudgets

      Jacob @ iHeartBudgets 01/21/2013 8:51 a.m. #

      In two of those three areas, I'm feeling successful, it's that darn health one. I'm not unhealthy by any means, I just don't make time for the recommended daily exercise, and I need to get on that. Otherwise, I'm feeling good :)

      Mostly, for me, success is not a number, but a legacy. I won't know if I've been REALLY successful until I'm gone. It's the legacy I leave and the lives I can impact for the better that shows success to me.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/21/2013 10:44 a.m. #

        That is a very important point you make about a legacy. I think about death way too much, but have never put much thought into what type of legacy I will leave behind.

      • Kim@Eyesonthedollar

        Kim@Eyesonthedollar 01/21/2013 6:50 p.m. #

        I agree. We won't truly know how successful we are until we leave some sort of legacy, but if I have a can raise a child to be a productive member of society, that would be a success in my book.

    • krantcents

      krantcents 01/21/2013 9:03 a.m. #

      Success is reaching a particular goal or objective. In many cases, it has very little to do with money unless that was the objective. When it comes to health, I use a variety of objectives some medical and others could be weight. Since my career (teacher) is very different now, money is not a measurement. Satisfaction, fulfillment and some statistics are much more meaningful to me. Overall quality of life trumps a lot of things when you are in your 60s and already achieved your nest egg.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/21/2013 10:47 a.m. #

        I too think success is so much more than money. As you say, satisfaction and fulfillment are key. There have been times in my corporate career that I accepted new jobs without a pay raise simply because I knew I would love doing that job.

    • Thrifty Dad

      Thrifty Dad 01/21/2013 9:15 a.m. #

      Great post! I actually got asked this once in a job interview. Let's just say there were a lot of "umm's". But it's an important one to ask. What defines your success? What makes you happy? And you're absolutely right, your definition of success may change as your priorities do. Life changes you and your perception of what's important. Right now, my family and their health defines mine.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/21/2013 10:51 a.m. #

        Our lives are constantly changing and being open to accepting that is very important. How many times do we see people get married and have children yet they spend so little time together and all they can focus on is making more money? In their case their priorities never change nor does the definition of success.

    • AverageJoe

      AverageJoe 01/21/2013 9:53 a.m. #

      So many people define themselves only by their career and how far up the ladder that they forget your other two points. I met so many middle executives who were overfed and underexercised that they were all heart attacks waiting to happen. Add to that lots of emotional coping because they didn't have enough "time" (so they thought) to seek balance, and you had some messy, messy individuals.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/21/2013 10:58 a.m. #

        Many of us are raised to focus on career and money no matter how it affects the rest of our lives. My mother was very much like the middle executives you speak of.

    • Corina Ramos

      Corina Ramos 01/21/2013 3:08 p.m. #

      Well this post certainly made me stop and re-evaluate all aspects of my life. I'd say I'm balancing out two of the three and admit I don't stop to take care of myself, until one day someone told me if I'm holding it all together I need my health to keep going and so I started gettin' on the treadmill, I hate it, but I do it :)

      "Go with the flow" can't say it any better girlfriend! Thanks for sharing these suggestions :)

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/21/2013 5:46 p.m. #

        Maintaining our health gives us the strength to deal with everything else that life throws at us. Good for you for doing the treadmill. You go girl!!

    • Lakita

      Lakita 01/21/2013 5:23 p.m. #

      Hi Sicorra,
      We really have to define what success is just as you have written.It is known to everyone that success does not come easy. There are a lot of obstacles which we need to surmount to be successful in life.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/21/2013 5:48 p.m. #

        I think that perhaps in some areas of everyone's lives success comes easy and in some areas it doesn't. For some people it is easy to make a lot of money, but when you talk to them you find out they have on-going health issues that they struggle with.

    • femmefrugality

      femmefrugality 01/21/2013 8:43 p.m. #

      Love this post! I think at different times in my life different areas of life make me happier. And that's how I gauge my I happy with where I am at today and excited for what is coming tomorrow?

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/22/2013 12:28 p.m. #

        Exactly1 Go with the flow...

    • Pauline

      Pauline 01/21/2013 11:13 p.m. #

      Great post Sicorra, and I love the saying in the picture. Success to me is being able to decide. Not being tied to a day job if I don't want to. Wanting to see the people I love because I successfully removed the toxic ones and optimized my time.

      • Tackling Our Debt

        Tackling Our Debt 01/22/2013 12:30 p.m. #

        You've got it all covered Pauline. Good relationships and happy with your finances. Can't get much better than that.

    • Holly@ClubThrifty

      Holly@ClubThrifty 01/22/2013 5:32 a.m. #

      Great post! And I think it's all connected. Whenever I am struggling in one area, it tends to carry over into other areas. Likewise, when I am doing well in one area it tends to motivate me in others.

      • Tackling Our Debt

        Tackling Our Debt 01/22/2013 12:32 p.m. #

        I've noticed that as well. Whenever we have health issues in our house it affects everything else.

    • John S @ Frugal Rules

      John S @ Frugal Rules 01/22/2013 8:17 a.m. #

      Great post Sicorra! Like has been said, I think a lot of times it comes down to money for many people. While that is important and has it's place, there are so many other things that matter. For me it's being happy in what I am doing, making a difference in the life of those I love and those around me.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/22/2013 12:33 p.m. #

        You know what your priorities are aside from money and that is so important, isn't it.

    • Edgar @ Degrees and Debt

      Edgar @ Degrees and Debt 01/22/2013 12:52 p.m. #

      I'd like to think success to me is simply feeling good about myself and my surroundings.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/23/2013 3:53 p.m. #

        I would agree 100%.

    • Marissa @ Thirty Six Months

      Marissa @ Thirty Six Months 01/22/2013 3:39 p.m. #

      Being successful to me means being content with what I have.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/23/2013 3:52 p.m. #


    • Kathleen, Frugal Portland

      Kathleen, Frugal Portland 01/23/2013 2:15 p.m. #

      I have a post like this in the works! How funny! I'll be sure to link to you once it's live. :)

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/23/2013 3:54 p.m. #

        Very cool Kathleen! Thanks! Look forward to seeing your post! :-)

    • Laurie@thefrugalfarmer

      Laurie@thefrugalfarmer 01/25/2013 10:46 a.m. #

      Excellent post, Sicorra! My favorite line in this post is "Challenges and obstacles are opportunities for improvement and further success". To me, success can be summed up by simply getting back up again when you fall down. Broader range, of course, we have more specific goals than that, but it's the successful who choose not to give up.

      • Sicorra

        Sicorra 01/25/2013 11:22 a.m. #

        You guys are working so very hard at overcoming your challenges and finding alternative ways to live a happy lifestyle, when many others may have given up. Congrats on doing what you needed to do, and doing it so well.

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