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How Do You Define Success?

By Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D.

How do you define success? If you don’t know the answer to this question, you are wasting your time setting goals.

There are probably as many definitions of success as there are people trying to find success. For some, success has to do with making a certain amount of money; for others, it has to do with living a particular type of lifestyle; for still others, it has to do with the quality of relationships they have with others or with God.

A person’s definition of success influences their ability to set good goals. Success is often seen as the achievement of something you desire, plan or attempt. However, success is more than just the accomplishment of goals, or marking things off of a “to do” list. What we envision success to look like defines what is really important to us, and is a statement of our core values.

It is critical to figure out your own definition of success because it will guide your selection of your goals. Knowing where you want to go is vitally important in choosing the path your life will take.

For example, if your definition of success involves achieving balance in your life, you will not be satisfied with financial success or fame. You will need to set goals to help your life be more balanced, such as pursuing hobbies, taking time for relationships, paying attention to health and wellness issues, and finding an expression for spirituality.

Knowing how you define success can help you make decisions. All of us are faced with a wide array of opportunities, and it can be difficult to choose among them.

Understanding how you define success can help you choose the opportunities that will lead you closer to your definition of success, and to bypass opportunities that don’t really serve the outcome you want. This helps you live your life fully without being diverted into areas that won’t lead you anywhere.

Be careful that the definition of success really fits YOU. Otherwise, it is easy to get sidetracked into someone else’s version of success. Notice how advertisers try to do this to us every day. When you reach for someone else’s definition of success for you, it usually leads to disappointment, even if the person defining success for you is someone who cares about you.

For example, your parents may feel that to be successful you need to have a particular career, live in a certain place or marry a person of their choosing. Even though they may want the best for you, they don’t really know what success will look like for YOU.

When you know clearly what your definition of success is, you can set better goals, and put your energy into opportunities that really touch your core values and fit for you.

Success isn’t about living your life to meet someone else’s version of what a successful life is. It is your version of success that matters.

© 2012 Linda S. Pucci, Ph.D.

Linda Pucci, Ph.D. is a life coach, trainer and expert at helping people overcome the obstacles to their success. She specializes in helping people get rid of the “mental clutter” of negative emotions and limiting beliefs quickly, so that they can live full, meaningful lives. She is the owner of Inner Resource Center, LLC in Maryville, TN. Download her free audio workshop, “7 Major Ways Mental Clutter Sabotages Your Business and How to Fix It” at