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Posted by on Jul 20, 2013 in Featured Posts, Happiness, Infographic | 6 comments

What Is Success? The only 2 things you need to know (+ a great infographic)

What Is Success? The only 2 things you need to know (+ a great infographic)

Aren’t you tired of all these books, blogs, magazines and TV shows preaching about material wealth, social recognition and success in any aspect of your life? Telling you what to do to get the beautiful house on the beach, with cheesy testimonials on how “other people” did it as well? Giving you their answer to the question “What is success”? Selling you “THE dream”? Making you feeling miserable about your short list of achievements? Well, I am. I am very tired actually. I keep having this feeling that we are being sold an erroneous vision of life and success. And that too many people mistakenly believe and crave for this.

So I’ve decided to write this little blog post and center the debate. I just want to make sure that you, my reader, know what success really is and how you can achieve success. Let me start with what success isn’t.

Fame, money, social status? Nope.

Wherever you look, success is strongly tied to money, social status and fame. It means that you have to work your way up the corporate ladder, make new connections with important people, and be sure to show off. Don’t forget to buy a big car and a fancy house and live like a millionaire. Smile to the right people, get invited to the right event, and bazinga! You’re successful. For most people, success is directly equivalent to a great job, a high paycheck and amazing living conditions. I’m sure you can almost imagine that handsome guy in a business suit with the white Colgate smile, running a nice Mercedes coupé.

Is that it? So, success really is about flattering the ego, then? I can’t help but think there’s much more to success than the obvious tangible aspects like money, status and fame I’ve mentioned above.

As Tom Ewer recalls in his really interesting list of 22 Success Stories, Oxford dictionary has two definitions for success:

  • the accomplishment of aim or purpose
  • the attainment of fame, wealth or social status.

Most people indeed will only consider the second definition, and totally forget that the first definition is the one that really matters throughout the course of your life.

Have you heard about the top 5 regrets of the dying? One of the regret people have on their death bed is to have spent way too much time focusing on their career and their work. They were trying to reach what they thought was success, trying to “be someone”; to finally realize too late that they had it all wrong. That they should have spent more time with the people they loved.

Success is personal.

These people were probably trying to get rich and to be someone because they thought that was what the society was expecting from them. They struggled all their lives for what they thought was success; to finally realize they had it all wrong from the very beginning. At the end of their road, no success, but bitterness and regrets.

Had they been aware before that what they really wanted was to spend time with their beloved ones, or engage in voluntary work, or whatever really mattered to them, once on their death bed they would have felt that their life had been a total success.

Success is subjective.

There’s no definition of success. Success is subjective – and if you think success is about fame and recognition, read the top 5 regrets of the dying, and think again. Shift your mind and change your focus.

The way I see it, your life will be successful if it has been filled with fulfilling moments and fulfilling relationships (tweet this), because these are the things that will matter most at the end. Not the number of cars, or the size of your home cinema. Not even the number of people you know.

Success has nothing to do with wealth, social status, peer recognition and so on. It is not defined by other people, by the conventions of our modern society nor by the number of zeros on your paycheck.

Success is simply the state of achievement of your own goals, your own struggles, and your own dreams (tweet this). It is when you reach your own stars. It is when you finally realize your purpose on Earth and decide to fulfill that purpose. It is when you spend your time and energy for the priorities that really matter to you.

And most important of all: success and happiness go hand in hand (tweet this). Whatever makes you happy should make you feel successful. And whatever makes you feel successful should make you happy.

I guess the ultimate form of success is the simple fact of being happy, 100% completely, deeply and truly happy about your current situation and life, and not wanting more. Whatever others around you think or achieve, I truly think that success can come from being in peace with yourself.

An insightful infographic to define success

How can YOU achieve success?

Well, as a direct consequence of success being personal and subjective, it will come as no surprise that you should find success within yourself.

Does it remind you of something? When Paolo Coelho wrote the Alchemist, it was more or less the point of his book. Your treasure is within yourself, not outside. No need for fancy material stuff, and people fake-smiling at you. Look at you, look at a mirror. List what you achieved, and be proud. If anybody had been in your shoes, would they have gone that far? No, of course no. This is YOUR success.
So, list your priorities. Write down the things that matter most to you, the things that give you the goose bumps, the things that make you feel truly alive and in peace with yourself.

Don’t let anybody (nope, not even me) tell you what success means, and find it by yourself.

Your great feedback is my success. What is YOUR success?

Writing frequent blog posts is nothing easy, but I’ve received great feedback so far and I’m so grateful for your kind words. This is my little success after all and I’m so happy about it. It gives me strength whenever I start thinking about my next post. And it has helped me a lot these 2 past months to overcome my lack of motivation to write any new post.

Now tell me what makes you feel successful? Is it the sight of your kids every morning? Running a 10k every 2 days and feeling both so exhausted and so alive after it? Reading my blog? You can use the comments section below or let me know on Facebook or Twitter. And if you want even more insider tips, you should definitely subscribe to my newsletter below! 100% Happiness guarantee!

Infography credits go to Huffington Post.

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  1. Hey Nicolas! I have also noticed the amount of ‘do x, get y’ – blogs and articles. I feel like they all repeat the same mantras and copy each other just below the threshold to be called out for it. Your post is thought – out and well written. I have achieved this so-called success in all aspects of life, from adolescence I have pursued the goals I thought would earn me respect and external validation. I knew that wasn’t how I would define happiness though, so I began reading these articles and blogs you refer to. Now, I feel like the only thing that really matters is true happiness: if you can look back at your life and say ‘wow, I sure lived a good life’ or optionally ’5/5, would live again’ then you can claim to have been successful.
    Keep blogging mate! Eventually you will drive all these feelgood writers out of business.
    You already set a nice tone for my just beginning day, I’ll go wake my SO up with hugs and kisses :)

    • Wow that was an enthusiastic comment Antonio!!! Thanks a million, such comments help me whenever I need to write a new blogpost!
      Yes indeed I am kind of tired of all the fuss about success, life is all about numbers you know? If you tell your parents about a new girlfriend; before asking you if you are happy they will probably ask you what is her job and how much she earns. I hate this and I hate that so many people in society believes that if you haven’t succeeded “the society way” then you’re nothing.
      There’s a famous guy in France who once said “if you don’t own a Rolex by 50 years; then you’re nobody”… Amazing…
      I hope you had a great day with your son and that you’ll transmit him the most important things in life: true happiness is what matters :)
      Take care Antonio!!

  2. I totally agree with you! I really think success is not only a matter of money and power only… at the very least, they are just some tools. I think when it comes to life in a broad sense, the most important values are found “within” and not in the material world!
    Nice info graphic by the way :)

    • Yep, “within”, success is within, that’s exactly it ;)
      Thanks Simon! How are you by the way??

  3. Hi Nicholas….I JUST found your blog and really appreciate all the reminders in this post. I also appreciate the link and graphic from Huff Post and agree with them that Success needs to be redefined by each for ourselves…of course you say that too :-) So many people are obsessed with seeking success but don’t have really a clear picture of what it really is for them…in fact, I wrote a blog post myself that suggests “You don’t have to be a success” here’s a link if that’s okay: My post was just another way of encouraging others to come up with their own definition. Thanks again for this post! ~Kathy

    • Hi Kathy! nice to meet you!! Really loved your post as well, so no problem to share it in the comments… :-) Your post was also linking to other post of yours that seemed really interesting, so I’ll have to do a bit of reading, and learn from you (there was an interesting thing about comparison that I would really benefit from). Especially loved the success definition by Ralph Waldo Emerson!!
      I’ll be coming back to your blog! :) Take care and thanks again for stopping by!!

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