What Is Success?

what is success by corinne wallington

At the beginning of this year I didn’t feel like last year was a success; I didn’t feel successful. But what does that really mean? What is success?

When talking about success my mind immediately goes to career/ business, but it’s so much bigger (& also smaller) than that. It happens every day and in every part of our lives – yet we don’t recognise it. In this blog I’m exploring what success is, and considering the big, small and what we can do to be (& feel) more successful. 

Career Success

When I was growing up I perceived career success as climbing a ladder. Getting promotion after promotion and earning more & more money; in short success equalled status and money. 

Now that I’ve grown up (well almost!) I see there’s a lot more to it than that. (Although these things still niggle in my mind regularly and have led to a lot of self doubt.)

In my first career, I climbed the ladder, was progressing well and had the potential to keep climbing. But as my family grew the two didn’t match for me and I wasn’t happy on that career ladder. So although I was successful in many ways, it wasn’t right for me.

Then I moved into running my own business and this is where the idea of success has for some time felt a bit elusive. What does it really mean? What is success in business? How do I know when I’m successful? 

When you’re in an organisation with a career ladder it’s easy to mark & measure your success; you get a pay rise, a job title or grade change, etc. When you’re working for yourself it’s all down to you. 

Personal Success 

I feel like the discussion around success focuses on career, when actually we’re a lot more than our work and for many their biggest successes are nothing to do with their job.

Here’s a few of my big successes: 

  • I bought my first house at 23 
  • I’ve grown, birthed and am raising 2 children
  • I have a happy marriage 
  • I have a group of beautiful, loyal friends who I fiercely support & support me back 

I think when I’m on my deathbed these are the things I will be proudest of – not how much money I earned. 

Continuous & Every Day Success 

The other factor of success is when do you achieve it. We talk about success as reaching an end point, a goal to strive to achieve, which on one hand is true but on the other, success is continuous and never ending. 

Earlier I mentioned my happy marriage as a success, but it’s not done. We’re still married (hopefully for many years to come) and we have to keep working to stay happy and make it a success. 

This is also true for career and business (until you reach retirement). Success is continuous; there’s always more to do and different challenges & opportunities to adapt to. 

But this doesn’t mean you can’t find success along the way. There will be goals that are achieved, small & big steps taken, successes found in the unexpected and more.  

Recognising & Celebrating Success

One conclusion I’ve come to is to feel more successful, I need to recognise & celebrate my successes. 

How to recognise success?

There are 2 things I’m doing to help recognise success:

  1. Setting goals & targets – defining what I want to achieve means that when I achieve it (or make progress towards it) I will know I’ve been success as I’ve given it a definition & a measure 
  2. Keeping a success list – making a habit to write down every day at least 1 thing that has been successful / I’m proud of. This can simply be surviving a tough day, but its also client feedback, a comment on a social media post, a meet up with a friend, etc.

Remember to celebrate!

The other side of this is taking a pause to celebrate; this could be taking an hour out for a walk in the sunshine, treating myself to a coffee & cake or for the bigger things it may be a special day out with the family.

So what is success?

My biggest conclusion is that to be truly successful you first need to define your own version of success. 

It is important to note here as well that your success is also intrinsically linked to your stage of life and what your (current) priorities are. 

What is success for you?

If you’re pondering your own success, here’s an exercise to do to help define what is success for you.

  1. What are 5 things that you think make people successful?
    First 5 that come into your head, don’t overthink it (yet!)  
  2. What have been some of your biggest successes? 
    Give yourself a big fat pat on the back! You are f***ing awesome and what you’ve succeeded so far in life is incredible. 
  3. How does success feel to you? 
    What does it look like? What do you do when you’re successful? If your response to this comes up with material things such as money and status, really question this. What does that money & status mean to you/ provide? It’s likely that what it provides is actually the marker of your own success.
  4. What does your business look like as a success?
    If you feel it’s a success now then how does it look & feel now? Or if it’s not yet a success how will it look when it is? What needs to be achieved / realised for it to be a success? 
  5. What will success look & feel like this year?
    Thinking about current and tangible ways to define your success can really help motivate you to achieve. Once you’ve written this down you can then turn them into goals to work towards this year. 
  6. How will you celebrate your successes? 
    You will have successes this year, month and week. How are you going to recognise and celebrate them? Set yourself little goals/ markers that you’ll celebrate. Keep a track of them on a ‘success list’ 

Your thoughts on what is success…

I hope you’ve found this blog interesting and thought provoking. It’s a topic that I’m sure I’ll write more on as it is broad, varied and very nuanced.
If any of it has resonated with you, or if you have a go at journalling the answers to the above questions, then I’d love to hear from you – send me an email at corinne@chilternbizcollective.co.uk 

If you’re interested in setting goals and reflecting on your achievements then I’d love you to join us at our next quarterly goal setting session; sign up to our mailing list to be the first to hear about details or check out our Peak membership which includes access to these sessions. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top