How Can You Define Your Own Success?


By Clive Coutinho

Integrative Life & Wellness Coach, Luke Coutinho Holistic Healing Systems Pvt. Ltd.

Success is usually deemed as a person, place, or thing – a perceivable destination we can all see in front of us. Truth be told, there isn’t a singular way to be successful. It is often defined by what other people think, so it can be easy to set yourself up for failure when one looks at external factors and influences for success.

However, success is a highly individual and intimate experience, and it’s crucial to find our own meaning. Is it power, money, recognition, or something else entirely? Once we have a clear definition, our next steps become very clear.

There are no right or wrong answers when defining success. Someone once said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” 

Why is it important to define your terms of success?

  • Because success is relative; what one may consider as success, another recognizes as just the beginning.
  • What helps is considering success as a range of experiences and outcomes that are meaningful to you. For example, we may define success as being happy with our work and in our relationships. Or you might define success as being able to hold a steady job and provide for your family. Whatever it is, its definition should be something that intrinsically matters to you.
  • A common obstacle to success is a lack of balance in its definition. Some define it too narrowly, while others define it too broadly. For example, some define it as making lots of money. This is too broad a definition. And some will define it simply as happiness, this is too narrow. Not knowing its explicit definition simply means that others will define it for you and then expect you to fit into their definition of success.
  • Like most things in life, defining success on our terms is a process that takes time and effort. It’s imperative to figure out what’s important to you and then figure out how you will get it.

7 Golden Rules to Define Success

1. Ask yourself, what does it look like?

Apart from just asking whether it means making a lot of money, owning a flashy car, having excellent health, and so on, you also need to visualize the outcome of your successful future. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? How are you feeling?

It’s important to remember not to compare where you are now to others who might already be successful.

2. Forget what others are going to think

“Care about what people think and you will always be their prisoner” – Lao Tzu

Avoid wasting energy on what other people may think, do, or say. Put it toward yourself. Be clear, be specific with your plan, and intentions, and work in that direction.

3. Character and Values

What are your values? What guides you? With what purpose and intention do you set about starting your day? Remember, success isn’t always about what you are doing or about what you don’t have. Who you are and how you live that out in the world matter more than what you have. Living ‘simply’ in today’s culture that focuses on consumerism is challenging. Yet, this can be a success for some. Living simply helps free you to pursue what matters most to you.

4. Freedom

What is freedom? How much of it would you like to possess? Freedom comes in various forms from financial freedom to flexibility with your time, what you do, and where you live. Some prefer a routine, while others like to be spontaneous.

Ask yourself; What does freedom look like for you? How much would you like to have? What would you need to do to have this type of freedom? How would you use your freedom?

5. Financial Stability

Define what financial stability means for you. We all know money can’t solve all of life’s issues but we can’t also deny that it is necessary to have to design your life a certain way. Gain clarity. For example, how much money would you need to live adequately well? What is the exact number you need to save? Get specific and ask yourself as many questions as you can.

6. Embrace Failure

Whatever your notion of success is, be ready to embrace failure. No one likes to fail but if we never or cannot experience the lows that come with losing or making a mistake, how can we appreciate and celebrate our success? It isn’t an indicator of our capabilities, but just another feather in our hat of learning experiences. Get clarity on the relevance of failure and what level of importance it is going to have when you define your ideals of success.

7. Invest in Yourself

It’s one thing to define success, and another to live up to it. How much are you willing to endeavour to be a better you? Will you say yes to opportunities that come your way? Investing in yourself is critical to being in alignment with your ideals of success.

Words to the Wise

View success as a process

Success isn’t all about achievements. It’s a process, a journey, an unfolding of small events. To help you feel less overwhelmed along the way, stay focussed on small accomplishments that will eventually add up to big achievements.

Your definition may change over time

No two days are the same. We age every day, our priorities evolve, and our values also change. As we move through life, our definitions of success will also age and mature into something else depending on what phase of our life we are in.

Success isn’t all about your job.

Your job doesn’t have to be the most fulfilling thing you do. What if it’s just a means to an end? Sometimes, work is just work.

Sometimes our job allows us time to spend on things we love doing and it’s okay if the job itself is just a job and not our life’s devotion.

Success is feeling good about your choices

Finally, success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and feel good and strong about the choices you’ve made. Our version shouldn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It must be a definition we feel good about and which is meaningful to us.

Bottom Line

All said and done, there isn’t a “One size fits all” definition of success. What’s imperative is finding out what success means to you and then pursuing a path that is uniquely designed to facilitate achieving your success.

About the Author:

Clive Coutinho is a Certified Life Coach from the International Coaching Federation. His proficiency is in the realm of human behavior and communication. Meticulous insight, emotional intelligence, and commitment are at his core, making every conversation with him engrossing, constructive, and entertaining.