What Constitutes a Successful Life?

key to successToday is Sunday, October 27, 2013.

There are a lot of ways to define success, and if you search for quotes about success, you will notice that just about everybody and their dog has had a go at defining it.  In spite of the fact that a popular ideal of success involves making as much money as you possibly can, the fact is that no one has come out and said, “Success is making  as much money as you can.”  At least, nobody famous has said this.  The fact that so many people have given so many different definitions gives us a big clue: success means different things to different people.  In other words, there isn’t only one definition of success.

In order to figure out whether or not you are on track for success in this life, you need to define it for yourself.  Sure, you can try using someone else’s definition, but even if you manage to achieve success by that definition, it may not make you happy.  The world is full of people who have made a lot of money because they thought it would make them “successful,” but who aren’t at all happy.   It’s also full of those who went into a career field that their parent chose for them, only to find out that it didn’t fulfill them the way it did for their parent.

Image credit: aloshbennett

Image credit: aloshbennett

Success isn’t always defined in terms of career, either, although it can be.  Some people define their success in life in terms of effectiveness – achieving goals and making things happen.  Others define success in terms of how much joy they are experiencing.  Still others define success in terms of making a difference in the lives of other people, raising a family, achieving distinction in one particular area, such as an Olympic gold medal or getting into the Guinness Book of Records. Some people define success in terms of spiritual unfoldment or maintaining a balance between their work life and their personal life.

Once you have defined success for yourself, how will you know you have achieved it?  Will you depend on others to tell you that you have succeeded, or is it something you can see for yourself?  Will anyone else even recognize your success, and if not, are you OK with that?  (Some people are.)

To get you thinking about creating your own definition, here are a few definitions of success from well-known people from all walks of life.  Find one that rings true for you and then re-word it to make it your own.  🙂

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. ~Albert Schweitzer

Success demands singleness of purpose. ~Vince Lombardi

The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes. ~Benjamin Disraeli

Every great, successful person I know shares the capacity to remain centered, clear, and powerful in the midst of emotional ‘storms.’ ~Anthony Robbins

Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals. ~Deepak Chopra

I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. ~Henry David Thoreau

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from his angle as well as your own. ~Henry Ford

Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others. ~Marianne Williamson

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody. ~Bill Cosby


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