The Blog

What Success Really Means

Go after your dreams, work hard, and believe in yourself. In the end, I truly think it comes down to achieving something you've wanted to achieve, even if it's something small. Those smaller accomplishments are just as important as the big ones. And we should all pat ourselves on the back from time to time to remind ourselves of that.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
Businessman looking out over the city at sunrise.
Businessman looking out over the city at sunrise.

I was recently invited back to my alma mater to speak to a few classes about my career as an Author/Blogger/Writer, my 'success,' how I've gotten to where I am, lessons I've learned, and so on. When I was asked back, I was told I was a 'success story.' Admittedly, I laughed and thought to myself how I hope I don't let down these students with my subpar 'success story.'

This really got me thinking about success. What is success? What does it mean? What is it not?

1. Success IS NOT money

As a society, I think we are trained to believe that success equals wealth. If you make a lot of money, you are successful. If you don't, you're not. When thinking about success, initial reactions jump to dollar signs.

However, in really thinking about it, money and wealth are truly such small slivers of it.

If you've followed your dreams, you're successful. If you're passionate about what you do, you're successful. If you are making a difference in someone's life or in the world, in general, you are absolutely successful. If you wake up every morning and kick ass at work, no matter what field you're in or how much money you make, you are SUCCESSFUL.

I think we tend to forget to think about success in these different ways. At first, I questioned why I was being asked back to speak at my college. While, yes, I have worked at some great companies, am building up a brand of my own, written a book...all great things, I don't really think of myself as a 'success story.' However, it was pointed out to me that it doesn't matter what's on your W2. I am a success, and I've now realized that.

2. Success IS NOT fame

It's easy to look around and compare yourself to others, whether it be a peer or a celebrity you look up to. And it's easy to start thinking that just because of the 'fame' and notoriety said person has achieved, they are widely successful. That then causes you to feel like you're just twiddling your thumbs waiting for your big break.

However, becoming famous doesn't necessarily mean you're successful. There are many out there who are famous and well known, but for the wrong reasons.

Don't trick yourself into thinking that just because you haven't hit it big and become a household name that you aren't successful. You are successful in your own right, and how many people know your name has nothing to do with that.

Ok, we've discussed what it's not; now let's talk about what success IS. How do you become successful and find it in your own life?

1. Let's talk about your job. Do you like your job? No? Well, that's OK. Try to think of at least three things a day that have to do with your job that you DO like. Whether it be the view from your cubicle, your co worker, or the snacks offered at 3pm. Anything goes. When you think of those three (or more) positive things every single day, it will make your whole experience THAT much better, even if you absolutely can't stand your job. From there, you will find yourself doing better, working harder, being a better employee and colleague, and possibly working your way up the ladder. THIS is success. Even if you're not making the salary you want to be making or you haven't gotten the position you ultimately want, you are making the best of the situation and you're working hard every step of the way. That in itself is what you call success.

2. Now, think about your relationships. Whether it be with friends, your significant other, family members, colleagues, think about these relationships. Are you a good friend? Are you a good girlfriend/fiancé/wife? Are you a good daughter/sister/granddaughter? Do you treat the people in your life with respect and how you'd like to be treated? Are you there for your loved ones? If you are nourishing your relationships and being the best you can possibly be within those, THAT is success.

3. Let's talk about YOU and your relationship with yourself. In the end, this is what is most important. Are you the person you want to be? Not yet? That's totally OK, but are you heading in that direction? Have you conquered fears? Have you stepped out of your comfort zone? Have you grown (spiritually, mentally, emotionally) this past year? Are you happy with who you are? Knowing yourself (even if it's knowing that you aren't the person you want to be just yet) IS success.

Success IS what you make of it.

How you view yourself, in terms of success, is how others will view you. Believe you're a success and you'll be one (if you aren't already, which I'm sure you are and you might not even realize it). Go after your dreams, work hard, and believe in yourself. In the end, I truly think it comes down to achieving something you've wanted to achieve, even if it's something small. Those smaller accomplishments are just as important as the big ones. And we should all pat ourselves on the back from time to time to remind ourselves of that.

What does success mean to YOU?