What does Personal Success Mean to You – The Ultimate Guide

It’s something you’re looking for, right? How couldn’t you be? Everywhere you go on the Internet someone telling you that you need to be successful in life. Or, risk wasting it! But here’s the thing, what is PERSONAL SUCCESS?  Or, more importantly, what is success to you? Without knowing the answer to that question, you’re never going to be successful. No matter how hard you try. Because although you may be working hard, you might not ever be working in the right direction.

In this article, I want to help you find out what it means to be successful. Not to those around you. Not in the eyes of your parents. But so you can look in the mirror and know you’re on the right path.

Let’s get started, shall we?

10 Different People, 10 Different Answers

Picture this….

1. Take 10 of your friends, relatives and colleagues and stick them all in a room.
2. Ask each of them, individually, to write down what success means to them on a sheet of paper and give it to you.
3. You put all the sheets in a hat, mix them together and then open them up to read what’s inside. What are the chances all of the pieces of paper say exactly the same thing?

Slim to none. Because personal success is always different. They might read:

  • Own a hot tub
  • Travelling to Machu Picchu
  • Having a 10,000 subscriber blog
  • Becoming a parent
  • Finding a cure for the common cold

Each person views success differently through their own eyes. So, the question behind this article is simple: What does personal success look like to you? 

Success, It Has Nothing To Do With Money Or Status…

When I was younger I had a really close friend and mentor called Tom*. He was a few years older than me and was studying medicine. But I knew him through training in the Gym. Tom loved playing around in the gym. Whenever he was coaching, teaching or helping someone, he was happy and full of purpose. There was a light in his eyes that was filled with passion.

A light that went out whenever he had to think about his studies. When it came toward the end of his time at Medical school, Tom lost a lot of weight. He wasn’t sleeping, he hardly ate and he was always on edge. Turns out it was time for him to accept one of his job offers as a Doctor. Something he had worked his whole life for, but now, didn’t want.

After weeks of thinking about it, Tom decided to go with his gut. He turned down all the offers for being a doctor. Some that would have eventually paid him more money than he could ever have dreamed of. But would never have made him happy. And it didn’t fulfill what he felt was his purpose.

Now he runs his own gym, works with international athletes and uses his medical skills to educate doctors on proper nutrition. And he’s never been happier.

Through traditional eyes, Tom wouldn’t be successful. He stopped himself from becoming a:

  • A highly paid doctor
  • In a respected industry
  • That people around the world wish they could be

But none of those meant anything to him. Even if he had become the world’s highest paid neurosurgeon, he would never have felt successful. Because that job would never have made him happy.

NOTE: *Tom isn’t his actual name, it’s been changed to conceal his identity.

…It Has Everything To Do With Being Happy

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.~ Albert Schweitzer (Tweet this)

So, what do you learn from Tom not becoming a doctor?

That money, status and ‘things’ don’t mean anything when it comes to personal success. There is only one important metric behind it – HAPPINESS.  If what you’re doing doesn’t make you happy then you shouldn’t be doing it at all. End of story.

There are two types of happiness for you to focus on, when you come to think of it:

  1. What’s going to make you happy: The things you want that will make you happier.
  2. What will make others happy: The happiest people are outward facing and put a big value on helping others.

The two are not  mutually exclusive. Because when you’re helping the right people, it will directly affect the things that make you happy.

In this next section we’ll look at defining your own success, both for you, and helping those around you.

Have A Broader View Of Success

When you start looking at your own success it’s common to look at just one aspect of your life. Things like:

  • Your career
  • Your relationships
  • Money or wealth
  • Achieving a particular milestone

Because it’s easier to focus on that one aspect of your life than it is everything else. But that’s why you often see a lot of ‘successful’ people with poor relationships, broken homes or severe depression or anxieties. Their focus on that single element became so strong that they let the rest of their life slip to reach the top of that mountain. Which is fine, if that’s what you want. But wouldn’t you rather raise the experience – and success – in all parts of your life, than in just one area? After all, it’s better to have a smaller house filled with love, than a mansion all on your own, right?

So in this next section where we’ll look at defining your own success – both for you and helping those around you – remember that you don’t need to look at just one element of your life. Instead, think of all the places in your life that you want to breed success.

Defining Your Own Personal Success

As you climb the ladder of success, check occasionally to make sure it is leaning against the right wall.~ Anonymous (Tweet this)

This next step is going to need a little self-reflection. And a pen and paper. Or the program you use as your defacto brain.

Ask yourself these questions and see what comes out for your personal success goals.

A Quick Note…

In this article I’ve banged on that money, status and other things don’t matter when it comes to success.

And they don’t.

Unless they will make you happy.

If earning $40,000 a month, being your company’s next CEO or owning a hot tub will make you happy then crack on with them. Just don’t feel that they are what you’re expected to want, if they won’t make you happy.

That being said, let’s get on with the questions…

Inward Facing Happiness

Question 1: What will make you happy?

It doesn’t matter what it is. Write down everything you can think of. Whatever comes into your mind. Remember:

  • Don’t censor it – if it’s something that will make you happy, write it down. There is nothing outside of your limits on this page.
  • Break it down to categories – You don’t need to think of just one thing right now, try splitting it into: career, travel, money, relationships and life.

You can repeat this question as many times as you want before moving onto the next step.

Question 2: Which ones do you want to achieve most?

You should have a list now full of ideas. And, no doubt, they’re all things that will make you happy. But now’s time to filter it down to what you really want to do. For this we’re going to try and old trick of Warren Buffet’s.

  • Narrow your list down to five you want to complete in the next few years.
  • Then forget about all the rest.
  • These five are going to be your focus for the foreseeable future.

Question 3: Which one can you start on right now?

You’ve narrowed your list down. But that doesn’t mean you should attack all five right away. Instead choose the one that you feel that you can start on right now. It could be:

  • The easiest to achieve
  • The one you most to achieve
  • The one that’s been on your mind for the longest

Question 4: What are you going to do about it?

Congratulations, you’re already ahead of about 95% of the world. You’ve narrowed down what personal success means to you. But here’s the fourth and final question.

What are you going to do about it? What’s that first step you’re going to take to make sure this happens?

Outward Facing Happiness

I recently watched a TEDxTalk by Adam Leipzig who outlined a wonderful exercise to kick-start your personal success and happiness. So, why reinvent the wheel, when it’s already been beautifully made?

Question 1: Who Am I?

The first step to looking outwards is to look inwards. Who are you?

Question 2: What Am I Good At?

What are you good at, and how do those skills impact those around you? What abilities do you have that can make the world (or life) a much better place?

Question 3: Who Do I Do It For?

Now you know your skills, who do you want to help? This doesn’t have to be charity – though that’s the first place your mind will go – it can be anything at all.

Question 4: What Do These People Want or Need?

What is it that they are truly looking for? Do you need to:

  • Be honest?
  • Provide answers?
  • Create solutions?
  • Give them clean water?

Anything that these people need, write it down.

Question 5: How Do They Change As A Result?

What impact does all of the above have on their lives? Do they:

  • Love themselves more?
  • Be more productive?
  • Stop being self destructive?

Outline all off these things. Because when you know how they change, this is where your own happiness comes from.


Continue reading our personal success series:

The 7 Rules of Personal Success

You know what personal success means to you, but don’t know how to get started? Follow these rules to start on the right foot and forge your own path. Read more

The 7 Point Checklist For Personal Success

Personal success is the most important kind of success. Read on to find the little things that you need to do every day to make sure you stay on the path to personal success. Read more ….

5 Daily Habits of Highly Successful People

Follow these simple yet powerful habits of highly successful people to find that elusive success in your life. Stop standing still. Use your time wisely and better yourself! Read more

About the Author

James is addicted to being a true English Gentleman. Between moments of chivalry he runs his own Freelance Blogging company. You can hire him here

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