What Does Personal Success Mean to You?

personal success

Success is one of those concepts that we all understand, and yet, in reality it means something different to each individual.  What might represent financial abundance to you might represent poverty to someone like Donald Trump.

Your concept of being physically fit is probably not the same as that of an elite Olympic athlete.  While swimming a quarter of a mile might represent your new personal best, to someone about to swim the English Channel it doesn’t mean much. On the other hand, personal success adds a lot of clarity to the concept of being successful.

Identifying what personal success is for you!

To be successful in any endeavor the first thing we need to do is to identify our own definition of of what personal success in that area would mean. Your pattern of achievement will follow your definition. Many people focus on being successful in just one area of their life such as relationships or business. That’s probably why it is so common to see those who are very successful in one area, but struggling in others.

Another thing that can happen when pursuing success is that we choose to make a conscious trade off by neglecting one or more aspects of life in order to succeed in another. For example, workaholics don’t generally have the most meaningful family lives.  Everyone at work may see them as extremely successful, but is that how their families are likely to feel?

On the other side of the spectrum we might find a very devoted family man who excels at being a husband and father, but struggles to make ends meet. While he has succeeded in an area that a workaholic has not, his attainment probably doesn’t bring him much recognition from the business community.

A broader definition of being successful

While any level of accomplishment, in any area of life, can be gratifying, I prefer a much broader and more balanced version of being successful. I would rather raise the level of my whole life experience than pursue billionaire status while everything else falls by the wayside. Life should be viewed as a synergistic adventure where goals in one area contribute to the whole. My concept of personal success is actually much more synergistic in nature.

So when we think of living a truly successful life, we are really talking about having a reasonable measure of success in many different areas.  For that to be a reality, it’s absolutely vital that we establish a definition for what it means to succeed in each of those areas and then analyze how succeeding in that area can contribute to the other areas.  This is the only way that we can gauge our personal success progress without throwing everything else out of balance.

Aspects personal success synergy

If you were to list the various important areas of your life that you would like to keep in balance, what would you include? The reason I am writing this article is not to give you my definition of personal success, but to encourage you to think about what synergistic, whole life success means to you personally.

What areas of life matter most to your broader version of being successful? For you to feel like a totally successful person, what elements would need to be included? If you are willing to take the time to actually define your vision of personal success, then you can design a plan that contributes to that vision. If you ignore this step, you may end up neglecting the most important areas of your life in pursuit of a mirage.

How do you measure success?

People tend to measure success by the results that they can see.  Sadly, many people consider material wealth as the most accurate indicator of a successful person.  When you look for signs of success, what do you see? Do you consider the wonderful husband and father of modest means who is well liked and appreciated by everyone he knows as successful? How about the very wealthy person who makes everyone around him miserable, but drives a Rolls Royce Phantom and lives in a 27 room mansion?

It is important to realize that successful is not so much something that we do, it’s something we become. First we succeed on the inside, in our minds, and then we can become successful on the outside. So before you go chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, why not take the time to figure out exactly what personal success means to you?

How much money would it take for you to feel successful?
How do you value relationships compared to income?
The lines are open!

If you enjoyed this article consider email updates!

My all time favorite tool for accomplishing amazing goals and creating massive positive change is called the 100 Day Challenge. If you are ready to realize your dreams and goals, then you should read this article.


  1. Hamza July 16, 2011 Reply

    Very nice and well thought out article. I agree with you that the first step towards success is to define it on a personal scale and then write down your goals on paper

    • Jonathan October 25, 2011 Reply

      So right Hamza, we can’t get where we want to go if we haven’t decided where we are going.

  2. Garin October 24, 2011 Reply

    Nice Bugatti Veyron!

    Having started a blog about online success I have contemplated this before, and I think that success is something different for everyone. Whatever your definition of success is I think it’s important to “stay hungry” as the late, great, Steve Jobs advised. Stay assertive; success will not be delivered us as we sit on the couch, it will come to us the more we hustle and chase it.

    I believe that the relationships in life matter more than the amount of money we are able to accumulate. For me success means financial freedom, not extreme wealth (although that Bugatti would be nice). Really I just want to have enough success that I have the freedom to live life without financial limitation so that I can pursue new projects and places whenever the opportunity arises. I’d like to spend the majority of cold Canadian winters somewhere warm instead.

    Solid post Jonathan. Keep up the good work!

    Cheers, Garin

    • Jonathan October 25, 2011 Reply

      Hi Garin, you made an important distinction in your comment regarding freedom and financial success. A reasonable amount of income does provide added freedom. Those who get compulsive about it can actually become slaves to their own wealth. I appreciated your sense of balance and the fact that you put relationships first. I also relate to warmer surroundings in the winter and cherish those tropical wintertime escapes.

      • Rob October 25, 2011 Reply

        It’s actually hilarious that some of the richest people are the ones who are having the least fun. At least I think so.

  3. Rob October 24, 2011 Reply

    I measure my success by my personal expectations. If I meet my daily goals, the day was a success. Weekly, then the week.

    But overall, I measure success by ensuring that everything I do is in line with what I would hope people would expect from me.

    • Jonathan October 25, 2011 Reply

      Hi Rob, your concept of success sounds pretty well balanced. In addition to considering what you would hope people would expect from you, be sure that your pursuits and expectations are aligned with your core values and personal vision for your life.

      • Rob October 29, 2011 Reply

        Of course! When I say “what I would hope people would expect from me” I’m also assuming that I’m properly setting people’s expectations.

  4. David Stevens October 25, 2011 Reply

    Hi Jonathan,
    In the past I have tried to determine when I will be ‘successful’ then I had to measure it, so that I knew…..probably a throw back to my Banking days when KPI’s were prevalent. Now,well I just aim to do various things in a successful manner…..i.e I feel good about them…..they are the best that I can do…..I no longer chase measurement, I just put it out there to the best of my (current) ability…..and I keep working on the ability thing. Thank you
    be good to yourself

    • Jonathan October 27, 2011 Reply

      Greetings David, the fact that you feel so comfortable with your approach is probably due to the fact that your perception is that of a successful person operating within that realm of success. In other words, the sense of striving for success on different levels has been replaced with a feeling of being at home and comfortable with your inner successful identity.

      In a very real way these words from my closing paragraph apply to you: “successful is not so much something that we do, it’s something we become. First we succeed on the inside, in our minds, and then we can become successful on the outside.

  5. Grady October 26, 2011 Reply

    I noticed a couple of years ago that I was having a lot of success when it came to NaNoWriMo (a novel writing challenge), but was not as successful in other areas of my life. About a year ago, I began taking what I was learning from NaNoWriMo, things that had helped me become a better server, and what I’ve been reading about success over the years and starting to apply those ideas to other areas of my life. I found that by dong this, I am starting to slowly see improvements in my life. I am not where I want to be yet, but I am at least moving in the right direction.

    I think one thing I really need to do to improve myself at the moment, though, is to begin taking time to flesh out the details of how I want my life to be. I’ve always had this idea of me having enough money to be able to by the things I want and need, and I have at least figured out a rough goal in mind for a start, and I’ve had an idea of what I want my role as a father and a husband to be like, I just need to take time each day to reflect on this vision and clarify it further and solidify it so that I am working more towards achieving it.

    In other words, I know I still need to work more on my definition of success.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Jonathan October 27, 2011 Reply

      Hi Grady, your comment shows how learning and applying the right life skills has a very real and positive influence on how we experience life. When you “flesh out the details” your vision becomes ever clearer and more real to your mind. As your mind adjusts to the higher level of clarity it works to manifest those things in your life. Remember, the mind is only creative. Adding details tells your mind what to create.

  6. John Duffield October 27, 2011 Reply

    Good morning Jonathan. Do you recall the single girl’s question to her Mom….”how will I know Mr. Right when he comes along?”. To which mother replies….”you’ll know him when you meet him”. That’s a bit odd if you think about it. How can a girl recognize her white knight when he comes along if she’s never met him before. And nobody can describe him to her. If someone told you to “go find Billy Macklevick” in a crowd….but wouldn’t say what he looked like….you’d never go looking. Even if you were told you’d “know him when you see him”….I doubt you’d waste your time seeking Billy out. Right? I think so. And yet, there are countless girls on the planet who will agree that they did indeed know Mr. Right when he came along. By “know” I mean with complete certainty in a way that could not be doubted. They recognized him, much like they would an old childhood friend…..whom they’d never met. So how does that work anyhow? I’m not going to provide the solution to that puzzle here. But I DO want to say this. “Real Success” is just like that as well. If you’re living it you’ll know it just like the girls know their soul mates when they meet ‘em. The feelings are the same. Your readers can therefore test themselves. If what they’re doing with their lives FEELS LIKE MEETING A SOUL MATE…..they’ve got real success. Ciao Jonathan. FYI I’ve gone underground but will return. In another tribe….hoping to trickle into yours on occasion. JBD

    • Jonathan October 27, 2011 Reply

      So nice to hear from you John and please do keep the lines of communication open. I can never get enough of your story telling style and the profound nuggets they reveal. I think the mystery for most people is figuring out what to do if there current situation doesn’t feel like meeting that special someone. Like anyone searching for that elusive perfect mate, they want to narrow their search so the can increase their chances of success.

      • John Duffield October 29, 2011 Reply

        Absolutely Jonathan. One more little comment before letting you and your readers get back to regular business. Actually, this one is my effort at winning a prize for the most preposterous, useless, and bovine bits of wisdom ever authored in the Americas. (But true). Please send me a coffee and donut coupon if I win. Here we go. Imagine two libraries. One is filled with everything known to Man about “how to find a soul mate”. The other contains everything known to Man about “how to find an authentically successful life”. I suggest these two puzzles are actually one and the same. But here’s the thing. Contrary to common sense, learning everything in both libraries will not increase your chances of solving either puzzle. Ciao Jonathan. Oh yes. Last thing. Having read maybe a hundred blogs authored by people trying to help us all improve our lives……yours for sure is as genuine as they come and consistently packed with original and useful content. I’ve sent out subscriptions to the Newsletter to many people because of it. I read it all the time and profit. JBD

        • Jonathan October 29, 2011 Reply

          How incredibly kind of you to say all those nice things John. It means even more because I have so much respect for your work and your authentic approach to helping others. Thank you!

  7. Ken Wert October 27, 2011 Reply

    I love this line. Jonathan: “It is important to realize that successful is not so much something that we do, it’s something we become.” This is always the way I’ve thought about success. I’m much more interested in how successful people are in living their lives well, in the kind of person they shape their lives to be than how much money they make or what level management they’ve been promoted to.

    I also love this line: “No success can compensate for failure in the home.” I measure my success by how well I live my values, how well I touch other peoples’ lives, and the kind of husband and father I am. All other forms of success are no more than icing on the cake.

    • Jonathan October 27, 2011 Reply

      Well said Ken, we are one the same page here. Sometimes, the point of an article can be summed up in just a line or two and you are really good pointing those out and at identifying the essence of the lesson. I really appreciate that talent in you!

  8. Nancy October 27, 2011 Reply

    Hello Jonathan,

    You make some very good points on success. The bottom line for me is when I meet someone I want to make a lasting impression – it’s all about how you make that person feel that they will remember.

    Healthy life relationships is success to me!

    In gratitude,

    • Jonathan October 27, 2011 Reply

      Hi Nancy, healthy life relationships – what a great success priority. Success in that area will certainly have a trickle down effect.

  9. Sandra October 27, 2011 Reply


    This article has given me a lot to chew on! I would say my approach hasn’t been synergistic and I haven’t had clear enough goals in any arena. I will be thinking about the important areas of my life and how I would like to balance them.

    • Jonathan October 27, 2011 Reply

      Hi Sandra, you seem to at ease with your life and that is often a sign of synergy. Could it be that you are more balanced than you give yourself credit for?

  10. robby October 30, 2011 Reply

    The measurement of succes is not the size of your wallet, it’s how you become as a person. Great article by the way!

    • Jonathan November 1, 2011 Reply

      Thanks Robby, appreciate your support.

Leave a reply

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


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>