Defining success

The last while my “day job” has kept me busy. That “day job” is actually a misnomer, as it is all contract work in my professional field.

I knew I could get trapped into thinking I wasn’t a success because I wasn’t spending “x” number of hours in my little business on top of those other hours. However, I decided ahead of time that I wasn’t going to fall into that trap. I started considering what success means.

I know that many people consider success as money or power, and the more of it the better. Most businesses need to define success as selling a certain number of goods or services, measured with net income.

I decided to ask a question on a forum about how other people define success. The answers I got were interesting. I had 14 people respond to my question, so statistically it isn’t a robust sample at all. However, there were a few general types of answers, and some gave more than one type of answer.

Total respondents 14

Monetary success 6

Completion of tasks 2

Enjoyment of life 7

Miscellaneous 2

I suspect some of the difference between the different types of answers depends on a variety of factors, including personality and health. For example, if a person has the drive, need, and the health to accomplish a lot, counting success in monetary terms is very reasonable. There are times when any one person will not have those attributes in combination, whether for a day, week, month, or longer. When that happens, the definition of success may need to be changed.

When life comes up wonky, here are some possible ways someone could consider oneself a success:

  • Not yelling at the kids when they have been running through the house...for the 20th time in one afternoon.

  • Finally finishing one widget.

  • Talking to one more person about one’s business.

  • Taking time off from work to recover from illness.

  • Getting help to pull out from an emotional tailspin (of whatever type).

Let me know how you define success, I’d love to hear it.

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