What is Success?

Success is looking forward
All aspire for ‘success’ – the magic word we hear the moment we are introduced to our goals. It is only when we have accomplished some of them that we tend to ponder over this question – what is real success? Is it what people around us define for us or is it what the world thinks or most importantly – is it what we think, and believe it to be?

Sometimes this question never comes to our mind. We get so engrossed in the perpetual race of earning money, more money and fame that any other aspect of life doesn’t just occur to us. Till we get tired of running and rushing, till we yearn for some peace, till we realize we need a break!

It is only at such a time that we let our minds wander to these irrelevant but most significant questions. There is no specific age for such reflections. It all depends on the maturity and the hard work, which we have put into our aspirations and how successful we have become.

So we come back to the question: what is success for you? Is it money or fame? Is it how powerful and popular you are in your arena? Is success measured by your purchasing power or the influence you can cast on people around you? Have you ever pondered or even thought about all this?

If you haven’t, now is the time to do so. If all you want is money, then, keep on pursuing it but I am sure you will get tired of your wild goose chase in a few years. If you want power, to influence people—this kind of illusion vanishes soon because our minds are very supple, they are easily influenced by change and new faces.

No single person can hold the attention of people for a long time and successful people know it very well. Once you have achieved some level of success, you have to take care of other aspects of your life. You can’t afford to focus on more money and more influence. There is more to success than just practical goals.

No single definition: 

Success is subjective; it can be defined in as many ways as you wish. To my mind, it does not refer to just arriving at your goals and then basking in the glory of those accomplishments. There is no end to goals. They keep on multiplying with each achievement.

Yes, it may be completing one part of your journey, which you started, to build a career of your choice but you have to continue that journey to satisfy your needs. It is at this stage that you have to define your limits. Are you satisfied? Are you making a constant progress or do you need to make a new beginning?

Success is being happy, being at peace with yourself; being able to look after yourself and being content. If you are not happy after all the efforts you have been putting in to earn money, then it is time to pause and redefine your success.

Money is no doubt an important component of success but it is not the only one. If success does not add compassion to your life, if it expects you to become mechanical, if it consumes all your time, if you have no time for your family, if your children dislike you…would you call this success?

Let’s try to understand it in a different manner – success can be defined at two levels: personal and professional. Which one is more important to you? I know all of us give a lot of importance to professional part of our life and in the process personal aspect gets pushed into background.

Sometimes it is difficult to slow down our pace and by the time we realize we need to look back, we could have missed the best part of our life, the precious hours, which we could have spent with family. Success is redefining your goals

Success does not just mean a lot of money and power or the house of your dreams, filled with lovely faces. It also means bringing a smile on those faces with your own presence. It means spending quality time with your spouse and children. It also means glowing in their happiness and feeling that much sought after peace of mind.

Success is not just money:  

Young and ambitious may equate success with more money, more comforts and enormous purchasing power. They are too immature to understand why rich people are not happy and how their money has failed to bring that stage of life, at which they can say – ‘I have nothing more to ask for.’ That stage never comes because money is never enough and it cannot buy health, contentment and peace.

You may argue that health should not be the priority for those who are just at the brink of hitting success, who are about to accomplish their goals and they have to put that extra hour to push ahead and to prove themselves. No longer so! The stress of modern life and the demands of galloping technology may affect your health in various ways.

Success in itself should be a long-term goal, which involves values we live for. If we equate it just with money and stop doing so after we have accumulated enough, it would be very difficult to change our expectations at a later stage.

Success is taking control of your life the way you want it to be. Many times the situation gets out of our control; the paths may diverge, we may not see the same kind of results we hope for and in disappointment, we may get pushed toward an unwanted way.

Success should definitely be following our passion and refusing to accept what we don’t want.

Success is:

  • enjoying our work
  •  being happy and making others happy
  •  upholding the values you believe in
  •  contributing something positive to the society
  •  bringing a smile to the faces of few
  •  earning love, respect and appreciation of people around you.

Success is leaving your footprints behind, so that others could remember you.

What does success mean to you?

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Thank you for your support. Please share your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

Balroop Singh.

52 thoughts on “What is Success?

  1. Lovely post about what success should be, Balroop. Money and power are transient, or can be, and contribute to much stress. We need them but we don’t need them to dominate our lives.Being content and contributing to society is much more meaningful in terms of being a successful human being.

    1. Thank you Amanda, I am glad you agree with my thoughts about real success. Contentment in today’s world is as rare as compassion, as both have to be nurtured.

  2. It’s a shame the meaning of success isn’t taught to our younger generation, Balroop. It seems they define it in terms of the number of “Likes” they get on their social media accounts. For me, it’s all about being happy and bringing happiness into the lives of those I come in contact with each day.

    1. True! Younger generation is driven by instant gratification. I agree with you that nobody discusses such topics with them and they grow up with their own blinders, which conceals some true meanings about life. Thank you for adding such a significant point to this discussion Jill.

  3. My definition of success changes yearly it seems. I’ve gone through all that you mentioned. Now, I have no idea. Success is that my kids still enjoy talking to me. Success is that I still love my husband… Hmm…

    1. You are right Jacqui, our definitions keep on changing as we proceed on the curve of life. Being loved by our family is a good yardstick to determine our success. Stay blessed.

  4. Wow! A powerful and comprehensive post, Balroop and honestly, you have summed up success perfectly! For most of us it is meaning is fluid – something we may not appreciate as much younger but learn with experience and maturity. As long as you learn of its evolving nature I think that is fine. For me personally your final points and this paragraph succinctly echoes my feelings:

    ‘ It also means bringing a smile on those faces with your own presence. It means spending quality time with your spouse and children. It also means glowing in their happiness and feeling that much sought after peace of mind.’

    Although a cliche, I honestly feel my biggest success is my son … I am bursting with pride and joy at his achievements in life (and not just the ones that gives one certificates). However, along the way I’ve grown too, in my dreams, my writing, my aims in life. As long as I’m moving forward and not static I feel that is a huge success as well.

    Thought-provoking article, Balroop and one that will stay with me … I can this topic coming up around the dinner table tonight! hugs, my friend, xx

    1. The first point that came to my mind when I was writing this post is moving forward (as you can see in the first image) I am amazed at how much we think alike Annika, not just about moving forward but also about the success of our children. If we have raised successful and responsible children who make us proud and we could find happiness in our endeavor, there could be no better definition of success than this. Little joys of life follow when we look at our tiny achievements, which are in fact the essence of life.
      Thank you for sharing such an honest view of success, I loved it. Hugs back to you. Have a wonderful week.

  5. I agree with you on all points here, Balroop. There’s a lot to think about when we try to define personal success. Primarily it comes down to our relationships and our health. Of course, we need currency $ to live but how much is enough? Chasing the dollar for more and more doesn’t bring happiness. We can’t even do anything with loads of money if we are sick. Great post, Balroop!!

    1. So true Lisa, money can buy food and other necessities but not health and happiness. True success lies in balancing all the aspects of life. Relationships form the basis of a meaningful life. Thanks for adding your insights to this discussion.

  6. Success for me is all about happiness, Balroop, But what brings that about is something of an octopus with many tentacles including good health, a comfortable living, family closeness, giving to others, creative time, and living in the woods. And more. Wonderful post that affords a broad view of success. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You have summed up the definition of success so well Diana. I can see how each one of us adds his/her own point! I like your happiness/success’ connection with living in the woods…on vacation forever! Lovely! Reminds me of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam: “A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread — and Thou
      Beside me singing in the Wilderness —
      Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!”

  7. Plenty of food for thought, Balroop… For me, success is found in the beauty and blessings found in the simple things in life–gifts from our Creator who loves us with an everlasting love! ❤ Blessings and love to you, dear friend.

    1. Yours is a very mature view of success Bette, which can only be understood by creative and spiritual beings. Thank you for the love and blessings dear friend…coming toward you too. 🙂

  8. Achievement and success pale in the background of a life well lived. I refer again and again to Hariod’s concept of contentedness. Learning to settle inside my skin seems to be what matters most these days. Knowing what is enough in terms of both contribution and perceived needs. Aloha, Balroop. 🙏❤️

  9. Beautiful post Balroop. Success is daily – being able to accomplish the goals I set out one day at a time. This line of yours is what resonated with me most: Success is leaving your footprints behind, so that others could remember you. I love that. ❤

  10. A much needed post on a topic so important to us all. To me success is the same as happiness. To be able to enjoy the beauty and live offered in the world. Then to enjoy the peace it offers.

    1. A prudent perspective Denise. When success and happiness merge into each other, we have truly arrived at the haven of serenity. Thanks for coming over to share your thought, much appreciated.

  11. I liked your observations on success. In business-speak too, success is achivement of an action within a specified period of time or within a specified parameter. Success can also mean completing an objective or reaching a goal. Success can be expanded to encompass an entire project or be restricted to a single component of a project or task, called milestones. It can be achieved within the workplace, or in an individual’s personal life. Finally, each one creates her own success by making that extra effort to progress from good to better and the best. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have”.

    1. Creating one’s own success is the key to happiness/contentment, which most people aim to accomplish. Each one of the readers here have given a definition that suits them and their choices but one thing is common – happiness. A successful person is the one who is happy and at peace with himself.
      I have also gathered that the concept of success changes with the phases and challenges of life. So the spectrum of this word ‘success’ is much wider than our definitions.
      Nice to see you Raj. Many thanks for standing by to read and share your perspective.

  12. Such a beautiful definition of success Balroop. While money is definitely important, it is transient in nature. So measuring success on a material scale is not prudent. Success to me is evolving, stepping out of my comfort zone, learning new things, experiencing spiritual growth, adapting to the changing times yet staying connected to my roots, giving my children the right values, embracing optimistic approach to life and enjoying its tiny delights 🙂

    1. Wow! Radhika, your orbit and circumference of success is quite wide! Thanks for pouring in everything into the cauldron of success. 🙂

  13. Hi Balroop – you’ve ‘nailed’ the concept – we don’t need trappings … we need to be true to ourselves, help others, appreciate our friends and connections, and love our families. We need to be happy and to do so we need a purpose in life – but that doesn’t swamp everything else … balance in all things. Some wonderful comments here responding to your excellent post – cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary, I am delighted that you have liked this post and the response of readers. Many thanks for coming over to read and join in the discussion.
      Thank you for making a mention of Emotional Shadows at your blog. I couldn’t find any sharing buttons to tweet Jacqui’s blog hop. You have a wonderful and supporting community. Nice to connect.

  14. Ahh … Balroop, you have tackled a subject that can seem very difficult and yet; Is it?
    If we dare listen to our inner self frequently we will feel the answers. Of course we want to do
    well the way we dream. Be it academically, economically or even fame.
    As you say though, it is never static and the flow of life needs to feel harmonious.

    Money are needed for our way of living but a poor goal. In itself it will not create happiness.
    I read Annika’s and your discussion and felt totally in harmony with both of you.
    I have had various careers but my children’s joy and deep engagement in life is my biggest success.
    Without a doubt.


    1. Oh yes Miriam, listening to inner voice is the key! This voice has all the answers but we tend to brush them aside while chasing success. It may be essential at some stages of life and rightly so but those who manipulate and knock others down to accomplish their goals can never arrive at the harmony we are talking about.
      Thank you for endorsing the points of discussion and what is real success. Stay blessed!

  15. This is a very nice post Balroop and it reminds me of your book on the subject.
    I would say success for me is achieving my goals and being happy, as a person and with people around, share the love.
    What else does the word need really?

    1. Yes Marie, this excerpt has been taken from the same book that you are thinking about. I am glad to learn that you are on the right track! Focusing on your happiness and sharing love is the essence of life. Stay blessed!

  16. Sometimes I wonder is it necessary to be successful? People only respect the ones who have amassed lots of wealth and power. I’m sure we were never sent with a mission on this planet. But it likely that we all will ponder over it someday because when you live in a society this question will certainly pop up every now and then.

    1. Success is necessary arv, as it feeds human ego, gives them the spirit of competition and gives them some goals. What makes it different is the way we see it at the personal level. As I have discussed in this post, wealth and power may not be the real success…that is the real point to ponder.

  17. I like how you broke down what is success, Balroop. When you mentioned wanting to be remembered and leaving our footprints behind can be seen as success, that made me pause. On one hand that sounds selfish – you want the spotlight on yourself. But on the other hand it can also be seen as a way of showing care and love – we do good and want to be remembered for it, and so encourage others to do the same.

  18. Such a good conceptual write up on success, Balroop. Success is defined differently by different people ..
    To me success, is to feel satisfied from within..What connects with me, gives me satisfaction.people often attribute money to being successful. Like the Bill Gates and Ambanis of the world are very successful as they have made it big, but are they successful deep within??
    Basically, I feel success is very personal to a person and he/she chooses success as it inspires them..

    1. I am happy to know that you have liked this post Deepika and your understanding of success is so deep! Many thanks for coming over and sharing your thoughts, much appreciated. 🙂

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