The Definition of Success

June 29, 2012

in Life Lessons

Success Happiness

When you hear someone mention a “successful person,” is the assumption this person has a healthy work-life balance or is happy?

Of course not.

The implication is financial wealth or status. It is how we are trained to evaluate success as a society. But as someone who emphasizes happiness over wealth, I am not one to fit in with this societal norm. And yet I must admit, I forgot the definition of success this year.

The more widely-used definition of success has a reference to prosperity and popularity, but the first definition of success in the dictionary is this:

Achieving an aim or purpose

Depending upon the interpretation of success, 2012 could be viewed as both successful and unsuccessful for me.

The financial item in my business plan goals for the year was reached at the end of April. Realizing this, I didn’t stop prospecting and accepting client projects. Instead of checking the box and moving on to other items, I continued to pour energy into the revenue aspect of the business.

  • While I was busy consulting, I did not have time to build my consulting business website.
  • With focus on teaching at a photography school, there  was little time to create my own photography website.
  • As I ran social media campaigns for clients, there was never enough time in the day to focus on my own campaign.

Additionally, a collaborative blog I have wanted to launch for over six months is nothing but a purchased domain name. I also believe there is so much more I could do to promote the social media site for writers, Studio30 Plus.

More important than the above-mentioned business goals and project aspirations, I want to be successful personally. I want to be happy, feel relaxed, and enjoy the people who mean the most to me in my life.

Here’s the great news: we are only six months into the year.

I have decided to re-focus my efforts for the next two months on these goals:

  • The kids and I will check off as many items as possible on our 2012 Summer Family List.
  • I will spend some lazy summer days reading.
  • There will be a lot of dinners on the deck, water balloon fights, and significant s’mores consumption.
  • Other items on my business list will be checked off.
  • I will not prospect, which will lead to time for the rest of this list.

It’s never too late to rethink the definition of success.

What does success mean to you?

Please share!

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole June 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm

It took me a long time to redefine what success meant to me. I was feeling so much pressure all the time to pursue some high-level editing career. (Try to get into Random House! Do you think you’d ever want to work for Vogue? What about a PhD?) While it’s lovely to know that those who love you have such confidence in your talents, I was trying to figure out why every corporate job I have ever had, I have H.A.T.E.D.

I learned that I am not a careerist. I will never earn a 6-figure income. I will never wear a skirt suit to work every day, and I won’t live and breathe most of my hours in some high-rise office with lots of windows. Can I support myself? YES. Do I need more than that, financially? Not really.

My success came to me when I started making more time for the things I love to do. The things that make me happy. The PEOPLE that make me happy. I have been successful in losing weight and getting in shape. Launching two blogs. Reigniting my social life after moving far away and then coming home again. A lovely relationship. A half-marathon. Six tattoos. Lots of concert-going. Discovering my passion for teaching. These are the things that define my success. Not a banking statement at the end of the month. Not the zeros (or lack thereof) at the end of my paycheck. That’s just money I earn. To fund my success.
Nicole recently posted..Guest Blogging with a Dear Friend in the UniverseMy Profile


Naked Girl in a Dress June 29, 2012 at 4:10 pm

What a wonderful comment to share. Thank you!

The funny thing about this drive to continue to exceed the financial goal is that I don’t spend it. I have budgeted how much I draw from my business and have not deviated. So instead I work really hard to increase the balance, but not because I am going to spend the money.

The Boyfriend and I spoke about this yesterday. He knows the balance continues to increase while I continue to put off my own projects and goals. What I explained is that, after 4 years of separation, legal bills, and finally the divorce, I am lining this money in my mattress for fear of the financial instability striking again. I am terrified actually.

So while I don’t define success by financial balances, I became a slave to overworking to build that security. Looking in objectively, I know I am okay financially. From a more emotional place, it’s terrifying to be a single mom with one income.

I am working on this and hope I can stick to my 2-month hiatus to work on developing a few things of my own to be proud of.

Thanks again for this comment.


Nicole June 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Oh yeah. That’s totally different game. It’s just me I have to worry about. When there are little ones, yes, the security and the fear are very real. But you’re doing the right thing by stepping back, and taking care of “just you” for a little while.

And you, my dear, have PLENTY to be proud of. ;-)
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Naked Girl in a Dress June 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I have worked hard enough to build up the padding in my mattress, which means I can take the summer off to play and work on my projects. Now I just have to believe it and stick to the plan.

Thanks for the kind words. It means a lot to me Nicole.

Hey Monkey Butt June 29, 2012 at 3:19 pm

I’d like to think life goals and work goals being accomplished can both be called a success when completed. That’s awesome that you’re able to say you can check off so much from your list so far, and only half way in. have an awesome weekend checking off some more of those things :))
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Naked Girl in a Dress June 29, 2012 at 4:04 pm

I worked hard for this progress, but I have a hard time resting and enjoying the reward that came from the effort. I am going to try this summer. And, as you know from having a blog, it’s a lot of fun to work on your own projects. I have some breathing room financially so it’s time for my projects.


Kimberly June 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I have noticed lately that I’ve been so driven that I haven’t enjoyed my boys much. This past week of car shopping together has been so nice (not the actual car shopping, but the time together in the car, lunches out where we have time to talk).

My life is flying by and I don’t want to get to the end of it and wish I had done it differently. I need a strategic plan. A defined goal. And some down time.
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Naked Girl in a Dress June 29, 2012 at 7:38 pm

There is a direct correlation with how I feel about work-life balance and the amount of time I am spending with the kids. Let me know how you find more down time–please share if you figure it out!

I am glad you enjoyed time with the boys lately.


Chrysta Bairre June 29, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I loved this post, and in fact just wrote something similar on my blog last week!

Success, to me, is living a happy and fulfilled life. No amount of fame or fortune is going to make me happy- my happiness comes from within. What really matters to me is not the outward appearance of success, but living a life I love.

Have a grateful day!

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Naked Girl in a Dress July 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Living the life I love was happening, but the balance was lost. I was pulled in too many directions. I have re-focused and believe the balance will return. Just as with choosing happiness, we have to be ever-mindful of the balance in our lives as well.


David June 30, 2012 at 11:10 am

It will come around the time when I throw away my checklist, laugh and walk back to the beach with my pretty boat drink in tow.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

What a great visual….list blowing in the breeze as you walk back to the beach. Go for it!


Jack @ TheJackB July 1, 2012 at 5:28 pm

I think that my last post is about success but I don’t really use the word in it. Maybe a better answer for me is to say that success is the state of mind I have when I am calm, collected, comfortable and confident that I am doing the things that make my heart full.

That sounds hokey, but it is true. I have been on both sides of the financial coin and won’t lie, having money was better.

But it was better only because I enjoyed what I was doing and it was fun. I don’t want to make millions if it means being tied to stake and forced to do things that aren’t fulfilling.

That is the benefit of being in my forties, I know what makes me happy and am focused on trying to do the things that reflect that.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm

“…success is the state of mind I have when I am calm, collected, comfortable and confident that I am doing the things that make my heart full.”

That is not hokey Jack! Thank you for leaving this comment; it is comforting to me. And something I needed to read.


Lisa T July 4, 2012 at 12:01 pm

It’s true, we define success by material and status but I learned how wrong that is. The stuff and the status that comes with a work title can all be gone overnight but love, and happiness from within cannot be taken away from you. If you have that, you can accomplish so much. Balance is a great word and one I have to work on attaining as well. Good luck with your goal accomplishments.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Thank you Lisa. I am going to have a wonderful summer with the focus on that one fabulous word: balance.

Best of luck to you as well!


Sarah July 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Success to me is more of a synergy of health, wealth and relationships. I feel that if any of these areas is lacking, the other 2 suffers. I would rather have each area average than to excel in one, but lack in the other.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 5, 2012 at 11:35 am

You have a good point Sarah, which brings me back to the thought that balance is key in all areas of life.


Charlotte July 6, 2012 at 12:29 am

I’m with you on this one. I have always placed far greater importance on happiness than I have on the acquisition of material wealth. For obvious reasons. You can’t buy the kind of friend who grows old with you, the one who is always just a phone call away for anything. You can’t buy inner peace and serenity but they are essential for living a prosperous life. And though money can buy many things, it will never afford you true happiness, at least not without a price tag attached.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 6, 2012 at 10:07 am

Why am I not surprised we agree on this topic? I agree with everything in your comment. It’s about being happy and achieving the less focused-on definition of success.


My Inner Chick July 8, 2012 at 2:42 am

–Success = Happiness, Contentment, & Joy.

It’s that simple and that complicated!

Great Post. <3
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