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You’ve probably heard about goal-setting and how important it is to focus on the process over the outcome.  Habit change has many elements. Creating small, measurable steps, environment design, building intrinsic motivation, and even the possibility of shifting your identity is potent.  It’s the topic of one of my four modules in my mindset academy.

But for today?  I want to talk about the definition of success. In 2015, I did a TEDx Talk about how I defined success back then.  I said success was doing my best, it was being brave and showing up for a challenge.  It was about doing my best with what I could control- but that was more about defining success of a goal.

What about success in life?

The definition will vary for everyone based on your values.  However, I think it’s important to reflect on this question because success seems to be this ultimate endpoint we chase in life.  Certain types of success are measurable.  You might also have different buckets for success. One might be owning our home or having a certain level of financial security. One might be succeeding at goals related to sports.  One might be related to family growth or dynamic.

As someone who chases goals and achievements, I am well acquainted with the fact that achieving or succeeding one more thing will not make you fill fulfilled. Saying, “I”ll be happy when… or I’ll feel like I’m enough if…” definitely has an arrival fallacy.


The goal posts get moved because the more you do, the more you realize you’re capable of. The well of potential is deep.  Fulfillment competes with self-belief because you want to keep mining for your potential, but you may be thinking you’ll only be fulfilled if you reach your potential.  The bar keeps moving.  It’s a vicious cycle.

I’ve been thinking about success in a different way lately.

What does success feel like? 

It’s not a permanent feeling, much like how happiness is not a permanent feeling.

Questions for you:

How do you objectively define success?

Personally, I define success as being proud of the life I am living.  Success is living by my values and the courage to explore my curiosities.  It’s showing up, doing my best with what I have that day, and having intention and awareness around my thoughts and actions as much as possible. A race was successful for me if I was proud of my effort. A win might bring more external successes like attention or money, but the feeling of success is internal.  I can feel successful without standing on a podium.

What does success feel like?

Celebrating success is not my strength. I’ve been working on acknowledging and celebrating myself and the feeling. It feels like I’m being selfish or indulgent, but celebrating hard work is a worthy cause.  Celebrating success with people is one thing, but I’m working on celebrating daily or weekly wins in my life by focusing on how it feels in addition to what it is I actually did.  The feeling of success is what I want to celebrate.

What does success mean and feel like to you?  Revisiting the topic often is meaningful!

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