Personal Success

"Is This All There is?" Questioning the True Meaning of Success

What does success mean to you? Do you have a picture-perfect vision of what that success will look like? Have you talked about your goals with others?

More often than not, our goals are something tangible. At one point in my life, making partner in my firm was the ultimate goal — the epitome of success I’d been working toward my entire life. Of course, it wasn’t until I reached that position that I realized I was driving myself toward a “title” rather than aligning with my life’s purpose..

Big Think discusses Arianna Huffington’s ideas on redefining what it means to be successful. “The foundation of her Thrive philosophy is that success is measured in so much more than the acquisition of money and power.” Indeed, Huffington rates well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving among the traits by which we should measure success.

I’d add that aligning with your personal purpose, fulfilling your goals, and measuring how well you influence and collaborate with others are equally important measures of authentic success.


If you’ve ever had the feeling that no matter how “successful” you become, you don’t feel personally fulfilled, it’s important to reexamine that idea of success and rather than using a title, a number, or a status to determine whether you’ve made it, ask yourself these three important questions to begin reconstructing your image of a successful life:

  1. What’s my personal purpose? This will take reflection, but realizing your personal purpose is the first step to reaching authentic success. Without purpose, you’ll be at the mercy of another person’s goal, and you won’t feel fulfilled no matter how much financial success or power you attain through your work. To take this idea to the next level, figure out what you’re doing today to become aligned with that purpose? If you sense an misalignment, more time and energy needs to be allocated toward your personal goals.

  2. Do I have a positive influence on others? Community is everything. Success without influence is difficult to measure and sustain. Having a positive impact on others with your work is vital to feeling authentic success.This is because you have the capacity to teach and support others in their growth, which makes your success that much greater than when going it alone..

  3. Could I become a better collaborator? Making your personal purpose a larger part of your everyday life is one thing. When you can reach your goals while also working alongside people with knowledge, talents, and skills outside your wheelhouse, it contributes to your personal and professional growth as well. Be honest with yourself about your weaknesses. That way, you can bring people on that allow you to focus on your strengths, which is a great benefit to you and your business. If you’re the average of the people closest to you, find success by surrounding yourself with people who build you up and enhance your creative energy.

This week, I challenge you to question the status quo and the traditional ideas of success. If you’ve reached a point in your career where you finally feel you’ve “made it,” how do you describe it? What are the key indicators? If you’ve not taken into account your personal purpose, your influence, and your ability to collaborate with others, it could be time to start questioning what authentic success looks like for your unique personal fulfillment and begin the process today. We can provide ourselves these moments of reflection — we don’t need someone to do this for us. It’s up to us to schedule time to check in with ourselves and ensure we are staying on track.