Feb 122013

Define Success – A Million Dollar Check In The Mail?

How do you define success?

The answer to this question is likely to be different for every person.

Is it as simple as earning a large sum of money – receiving a “million dollar check in the mail?”

Perhaps, but I’d argue that “success” is much simpler than that.  It may have nothing at all to do with making a certain amount of money.  Rather, I believe, success is achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Which goals should you set for yourself?  Well, that’s up to you!  It’s a very personal decision!  There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Do you allow others to impose their definition of success on you?  They may say:  you need to make a certain amount of money per year.  You need to live in a certain neighborhood.  You need to have two and a half kids (joking – that’s the average, I’ve heard).  You need to drive a certain car.  Be a certain weight.  Have a certain IQ.  Go to a certain college. Be a “winner”!  Marry the right person.  Be a superhero.  Etc.  Etc.  Etc.

Do you buy into this garbage?

Do you allow others’ definition of success determine whether you’ve “arrived” and earned the right to be happy?

The moment I realized that I didn’t need to meet or exceed anyone else’s definition of success is the moment that I allowed myself to be happy in my life!  I hate to say that it wasn’t that long ago.

I’ve always tried to do my best and I continue to do so, in everything that I do.  But now, I do it because I want to, not to try to live up to someone else’s standard.

I’ve also come to realize that putting off being happy until I reach certain milestones is a fool’s game!  Life is a journey that must be enjoyed every step of the way.  Rather than putting off happiness for some hypothetical moment when the stars will align and it will all “come together,” why not just be happy right now?

Another important realization I’ve come to is that it is a mistake to think of success in a one-dimensional way.  That is, if you say, when I make a certain amount of money or reach a certain net worth, I will have succeeded.  Or, when I accomplish a certain goal, that will mean that I succeeded.  That would be a one-dimensional approach.

A better approach, for me at least, is to set goals along many dimensions:  family, financial, fitness, etc.  Set goals in the areas of life that are important to you, not just in one single area!  If you set and attempt to accomplish goals in multiple areas of your life, I guarantee you that, if your experience is anything like mine, you will be happier and feel much more fulfilled.  Just remember to continue to keep new goals on the horizon, so you always have something to look forward to!

Enjoying the journey, setting your own objectives, and defining success on your terms are choices.  You can make those choices anytime.  Why not now?

I look forward to your thoughts!

Paul Morin



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  • My most important goals are the ones that tie emotion to them. If it’s a certain dollar amount, what about that dollar amount makes it a worthy goal? It’s critical to ask what will that dollar amount do? Perhaps it’s tied to charitable giving, to providing a safer home for family, to offering the resources to achieve a lifelong passion… It has to be about more than just I want to make a million dollars. I agree with you that goals should be three dimensional… Great post!

  • Thanks, Suzie. Agreed — goals absolutely must be about more than just the money! You may attain simple money or net worth goals, but I’d argue that it will be much more fulfilling if you achieve goals that are multi-dimensional.

  • A Million Dollar Check In The Mail? Whoa! Gimme! But kidding aside, success for me is achieving the goals I set for myself.