How do you define success?

It's something I've been thinking about for a long time, brought to the fore again when a friend commented that it felt like his career had ground to a halt before he'd hit 40.

At the end of this year I'll be 40 too - and looking at where I am now, would I say I've made a success of life?

In general-society terms perhaps I'm a failure.  I don't own my own home, I haven't steadily traipsed up the corporate ladder to an upper rung, I'm not on the school board, I don't have my name on a charitable plaque somewhere, I don't have 2.4 children and a 20 year marriage, and I don't have a couple million in investments. 

I have often felt like a failure, trying to measure up to all these things and coming up really short. 

The facts are I drive a beat-up old Land Rover, I rent a 2 and a bit bedroom house, I spent most of my adult life as a single mom, I work like a dog for the two companies I own - in jeans and takkies every day, busy building them up, and pizza on a Friday night is still considered a luxury.  I can't afford to fly overseas for a holiday (what holidays?), I don't sport an expensive haircut or designer shoes.  And I still feel like a 20 year old trying to find her feet in the world most days.

So am I successful?  To all outward appearance, not.  I don't have the trappings of success - aah, there's a nice word, "trappings".  Doesn't it just inspire a feeling of freedom?  Not.. :-)

But contrary to what society dictates, I think I may just be a success.


Well in spite of a multitude of challenges, we haven't starved yet.  The rent is paid on time.  The Land Rover is paid off.  The two businesses have their good months and their bad months, but are on the up - and hey, I OWN them!  My son has managed to reach 18 without too many incidents and I have every confidence he'll turn out OK.  I have the love of my life with me day and night - pure bliss.  And every single day I wake up knowing that, come what may, I have what it takes to get out the other side happy, confident in my abilities, and knowing I've done my best, given my all, to the tasks that face me.

What is success?  In my books it's living a life you love, morning to night, relishing each new opportunity and facing challenges with enthusiasm, adjusting your trajectory as needed to go where you want to go, and knowing you have the means to get there.  It's coming one step closer to your goals each day - even if your goals look different from what the rest of the world thinks they should look like. 

And you know what?  I'm there, I'm successful.


Deems said...

Be proud of your success. Success isn't necessarily a measure of wealth (or trappings as you so succinctly put it) but just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Like you said, you've raised a kid, you have a paid off vehicle, you have two of your very own companies, your bills get paid on time and you have a happy family. That's successful in my eyes too, so well done (not that you need me to validate it anyway).

Over the years I too have learnt that success isn't getting to that top wrung of the ladder, not in someone else's business but rather your own. To attain that success you (most of the time) need to go through some rough patches, but they'll be worth it in the end.

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