How Do You Define Success?

In a recent “USA Today” poll people were asked what their definition of success was. Before I show you the results, how do you define success? The poll asked readers to finish this sentence: My definition of getting ahead is doing better than . . . Here are the results.
1. Doing better than previous years: 57 percent.
2. Doing better than your parents: 24 percent.
3. Doing better than most Americans: 9 percent.
4. Doing better than friends and neighbors: 4 percent.
5. Another six percent didn’t know what to say.
So what does this mean? Well, in my opinion there are some interesting points to ponder. First and foremost, no matter what we have, we want more. That’s not a bad thing. We should strive to be better. In fact, it is the need to succeed beyond what we’ve done that pushes us to try harder and push the boundaries of what’s possible. 
We may never admit (out loud, anyway) that we want our parents approval and we want to “wow” them by doing better than they did. (We want to make our parents proud–whether they notice or not, so we will keep trying.) Instead of wishing ill will on everyone around us (friends, neighbors, fellow Americans) with seemingly more than us, we can use their success to inspire us to reach within ourselves and pull out the resolve to go the extra mile.  
Finally, imagine if we didn’t keep score in sports? Yikes! Players, coaches, and fans wouldn’t really care as much and the competition would be far less than it is today. We need to compete. I’m not saying trying to keep up with the Joneses is the answer (when you catch up to them they just refinance at a lower interest rate) but it’s okay to have a little “friendly” competition with our family and friends to see who can do more, give more, be more, and even earn more. If this pushes us to make a few more cold calls that helps us land a big contract, makes us take on a tough project at work that could garner us extra recognition, or just causes us to get to that extra gear, what’s wrong with that? (There will always be people who will make more–and less–so don’t get discouraged if you never catch the super successful, but trying to catch them could be just what you need to get to YOUR next level.)
The last statistic is a little startling. If you don’t know what success is (and what it means to you) how can you go after it–or even know when you have it? So start by defining what getting ahead will mean to you in 2013. 


How Do You Define Success?

One thought on “How Do You Define Success?

  1. Hi,

    I read your article and was hoping you would be interested in reading a piece of my own. A Reasonable Man, a short story, explores the unforeseen reality of the American Dream as it depicts the conflict between sacrifice and success.

    The story can be read free HERE (! It is also available free on iPad, Nook and Kindle.



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