How Do You Define Success?

Success—“Favorable or desired outcome; the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence” –Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Let’s try a little exercise. Develop a powerful image of yourself being successful right now and imagine what it feels like. Think very specifically and clearly, with emotion, feeling, and passion.

Where are you living? What type of work are you doing? Who are you spending your time with? What are you thinking about? How are you acting? How much money do you have? Are you happy? How do you feel? Do you feel healthy?

success mountain

What does success mean to you? And what will you do to get there?

The person you just envisioned in your mind upon answering these questions is most likely the person you truly strive to become. The fact that you can imagine having these feelings and emotions means you can achieve them. You must start picturing these things and thinking about them all day long.  Remember, you are what you think about.

Don’t let a day go by without thinking about—and taking action toward—getting closer to being the person you truly want to be. Whether you’re 16 or 76, you should always have an idea and a clear vision of where it is you want to end up. With those thoughts firmly planted in your mind, and the goals and plans set forth to achieve them, along with consistent focused action, you can and will absolutely be what you define as a success.

If you’ve already reached the level you want to be, you must continue to do everything you can to stay on top. Don’t let up and assume that just because you’ve reached your dreams, they’ll always stay the same. Your dreams, and your picture of success, is a moving target. What you dream of today will probably be different ten years from now. Always be envisioning who you want to be and where you want to go. Setting that image in your mind will force you to constantly be working toward it—whether you’re aware of it or not.


It’s Your Definition That Matters

Chances are, your definition of success is much different than mine. I’d be willing to bet that 100 people would have 100 different answers for the qualities and characteristics they consider to define success.

We can look at the definition above and see that it means a “favorable or desirable outcome”. A favorable outcome to me consists of many things. It means having a happy, loving family, and friends I enjoy spending time with. It means having enough money to provide for everything my family and I need, with some left over for the things and activities we really enjoy. It means doing something I love, and helping others in any way I can, every day.

However, many other people wouldn’t necessarily consider what I just described as success. To others, success means being worth a million dollars. While others wouldn’t consider themselves successful until they’re worth ten million dollars. Many definitions of success wouldn’t involve money at all, but rather just living a fulfilling, happy life consisting of many different facets.

The point is, it doesn’t matter to anyone what the different pictures of success are—except to you. Yours is the only one that should matter because only you know what you want and how “successful” you’ll consider yourself when you get there.

Ask yourself this question to get thinking: If you could give up all that you have right now to have some extra money in the bank, would you do it? Would you give up your health, your family, your friends, your free-time, and time with your spouse or kids…? The list can go on. Many people initially think success is all about money, but the reality is that most people would not give up all of those things that money can’t buy.


There’s Good News

The good news is that you don’t have to give up all of those things to be a success. The even better news is you can have all those things and still have the money you dream of. This article isn’t meant to tell you all the ways to make money and be successful—it’s to get you thinking of what defines success for you, and to get you on your way to envisioning that and setting your goals to get there—immediately.

The way you can have money and all the nice things money can’t buy—at the same time—is by doing the correct planning and goal setting, and strengthening your visions and desires. I think that a lot of people would agree that total life balance is a good goal to shoot for. I’m talking about a career-family-friends-enjoyment type of life balance. Aim for being complete and happy in all aspects of your life. If you go all out for your career, you’ll have the money. But what good is that without people to share it with? If you go all out for your enjoyment, you’ll have a good time. But what happens when you run out of money and want more in life?

“The starting point of all achievement is desire”  
                                                                –Napoleon Hill

The objective for most of us is to have a great quality of life and a balance in all aspects. The better quality of life you strive for, the better opportunities you’ll have. The better opportunities you have, the more people will like you. The more people like you, the more income you’ll receive. The more income you receive, the easier it is to be happy. The happier you are, chances are, you’ll consider yourself a “success”. And it all starts with desire; a goal—and a balance in your life.

success person

The levels of success you dream of can be attained…with proper planning, motivation and execution of the necessary action steps

Work-life balance can’t happen every day. I realize you won’t always be happy, making money and being motivated all of the time, every single day. However, keeping that clear vision in your mind of who you want to be—and planning and setting goals to get there—will keep you in line and will keep you from getting too far off the track you’ve set.


Setting Goals and Having a Benchmark

The thing is, setting goals is great for so many reasons. First off, it allows you to realize who it is you really want to be. These goals keep you on the right track, and make you realize the progress you’re making along the way, either toward them or against them. They allow you to see that what you do today has consequences—good and bad.

Work too hard and the other parts of your life will be neglected. Don’t work hard enough, and you’ll realize that your days are going by without any money or financial progress to show. Having a benchmark forces you to see that tomorrow really does come—and today’s actions determine tomorrow’s realities. If you don’t like the realities of tomorrow, change your actions today. Take the necessary action you need to now—in order to move closer and closer at all times to that vision and person you’ve defined as a success.

It isn’t your abilities that limit you—it’s the way you picture yourself. Successful, rich, happy, or in-shape vs poor, depressed, fat, or stupid—which of those are you picturing for yourself? As long as the picture in your head stays the same, the outcome will as well. Even if you temporarily shake it—receive some extra money, lose some weight, etc.—you’ll revert back to the old way of thinking if you still expect negative things for yourself. Change your picture…change your desires…and change what you’ll have and be down the road.

One of my personal daily goals is to do something every single day that will make me better in some way, and that my future self will thank me for. I have a clear vision of success and try to picture it each day. I even have a list of my one year and five year goals right next to my desk (at all times) as I write this. Each time I obtain what was previously only a vision, I dream up newer, higher ones to achieve. My definition of success is constantly changing, and really, that’s what makes life exciting. Having clear goals to hit, renew and alter is just the first step to being a success.

What will you do today that your future self will thank you for?

Live Your Dreams

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Kevin Tudor is the VP of Investment Training for Margin of Safety Investing, LLC. After a significant amount of time in the financial services industry, Kevin moved on to investment research and analysis to bring his expertise to the individual investor. He now resides in Scottsdale, Arizona where he conducts online webinars, writes financial newsletters, and provides various methods of investment training to show others the key strategies to successful investing.

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