What do we mean by success?

Authors tend to be a species driven to succeed. So what do we mean by success? Here are my current top five ideas about what ‘success’ means.

~ A successful person does not compete with others, but pushes themselves to do the best they can with what they have available to them – time, money, opportunities, energy, inspiration – at any one time. When we know we have done the best we could, there is no room for regret.

~ A successful person first sets goals that are achievable and easy to reach. Two small goals are better than one big one. Once we meet our small goals, we can set bigger ones, until goal setting becomes our favourite game. Set the goal, believe in it, and watch the outcome!

~ Success embraces ‘failure’ as an essential part of what it means to succeed. Without ‘failure’ – maybe we could redefine that as ‘investing in alternatives’ – how can we decide what we prefer?

~ Success as a concept is surprisingly subjective, so we need never get upset when other people have different ideas about what it means for us; instead, we focus on what we enjoy, and what we can do, and we take ourselves forward tenderly, hopefully and with deliberate intention, not overly concerned with other people’s opinions.

~ Success means nothing if we are unhappy. To be happy – content, peaceful, at rest with oneself – is one of the highest aims in life, and however we define it, our success should serve that end. If first, we can be happy whatever we are doing, success is already agreed, and nothing further then depends on any goal we have in mind. Instead, our happiness gives us energy to move forward more easily and confidently, whatever we are doing.

Johannes Vermeer, ‘Young Woman with a Water Pitcher’

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