personal accountability and development

4 Questions to Help You Find Your Definition of Success

What does success mean to you? There’s no wrong answer here—it can mean very different things to different people. But for most, true success comes from a combination of financial stability, healthy personal relationships, and a good work-life balance. Simply put, a successful life is a happy one.

And yet achieving success isn’t always a simple matter. For some, even just defining their idea of success can be tricky. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re still struggling to define your goals in life—and to reach them.

1) How has your background influenced your idea of success? Whether we realize it or not, our parents raised us with messages—spoken and subliminal—that inevitably inform our views of the world. This often impacts how we view success, for better or for worse. For instance, if your parents believed in luck, they may have raised you with the belief that your destiny is up to chance. If they weren’t supportive, or if they were disparaging, you may have even grown up thinking that you don’t deserve success, or that you’re incapable of achieving it. Start by examining your assumptions about your place in the world, and consider whether they’re based on someone else’s views—or your own.

2) Is something getting in the way of your success? I’ve observed that there are generally two main reasons that people fail: They either have unrealistic expectations about what they need to do to achieve success, or they fail to overcome the internal roadblocks that are preventing them from reaching their goals. So many people just can’t seem to get out of their own way. Ask yourself why you’re holding yourself back and sabotaging your success. You know what you have to do, so why aren’t you doing it? Once you can answer that question, you can move forward.

3) Are you comfortable saying “no”? In both our business and personal lives, saying “no” can be a powerful way to help us reach our personal goals. That means putting yourself first when it matters most because you can’t achieve success if you’re not in a good place mentally and physically. Saying “no” means claiming control over your time and your personal life. It’s OK to politely decline a volunteer opportunity that doesn’t fit in with your schedule, or even turn down a client meeting if it interferes with an important personal appointment. Be confident enough in what you’re trying to accomplish that you can say “no” when you need to.

4) Are you being realistic about your goals? Success isn’t just a magic figure that you want to see in your bank account or a number on the scale. If you allow yourself to be too single-minded about your goals, you’re setting yourself up for frustration and failure. Remember that true success is a journey that takes time, and its definition may evolve right along with you.


For more insights into how you can practice a new kind of accountability and make your life a success, check out my book, The Reward of Knowing