Defining Success

Defining Success

This morning, I listened to an “influencer” talk about success. He raised the question: How do you define success? I paused the podcast and thought about the topic for a few minutes.

I’ve defined many markers for success throughout the years, levels I needed to attain before deeming myself successful. Problem was, as soon as I achieved one marker, I replaced it with another.

In high school, dating the quarterback on the football team and being on the homecoming court made me successful. Check.

I defined success in college by the bylines atop stories I wrote and photos I took, which appeared in the campus and Baton Rouge newspapers. Check.

When I left journalism, I thought I’d be successful if I had a business card to hand out. Check.

Then, I believed carrying a briefcase meant I was a success, so I bought an eel-skin satchel. Check.

I later felt I’d be a success if my work and personal life were so busy I had to live by a calendar. Check.

Unfortunately, none of those things actually made me feel successful.

More recently, I judged business success by numbers, not in dollars earned but in the number of people who joined Life Writers, signed up for classes I offered, attended my free challenges, or participated in the First Tuesday Write and Read.

It didn’t matter if it was a free or paid event. If the offering was well attended, I felt successful. If not, I felt disappointed and discouraged. Uncheck.

I spent a lot of money and invested a great deal of time over the years to learn how to be successful from some of the top business leaders in the country, yet I never attained numbers that translated into success for me.

About a year ago, I decided to stop striving. I gave up doing what the experts said I needed to do to promote my business. I stopped marketing in ways I disliked, namely social media and advertising.

As a sixty-seven-year-old woman, I’m fortunate not to have to work, so I decided only to do what brought me joy—teaching, speaking, vlogging/blogging. That decision is helping me to streamline my work life.

I love helping others write their life stories in classes and the Life Writers membership. I know I’m making a difference in the lives of those I help. I’m fulfilling my purpose, the work I believe I was given to do for my “little piece of the planet,” as my mentor Lezlie Laws calls it.

I still fall into the numbers trap sometimes, but then I look into the eyes of the people before me, and I know I’m successful.

How do you define success today? How did you define it in the past? What makes you feel like a success today? Tell us about your relationship to success.

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Please note: All grammatical and typographical errors have been put in this article for
your enjoyment in finding them.

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Flora Phyllis Poggio
Flora Phyllis Poggio
8 months ago

What is success? Success means different achievements or milestones to individuals at various stages of life. To me success is contentment. ‘Nough said.

Norma Beasley
9 months ago

Success means different things to different people. Also, it’s different at various stages in life. I’m successful when I write a great story or just being able to get out of the bed every day and pick up my paper off the drive!!! Norma

Holly Martinez
9 months ago

Success At the early age of five, I knew I wanted to be a mommy. The best mommy, not just any mommy. At five, I stood up for my mommy who couldn’t do it herself. I became her caretaker/mommy. Check My mommy was mentally ill. I think she lived from fear. She didn’t know how to be kind, nurturing, caring, or loving. She kept me in dangerous situations in hiding for five years. In the back room of her church, a medical building basement, and her car’s backseat floor. She made errors in her choices. Teaching me what I don’t… Read more »

Idalia Martinez
Idalia Martinez
8 months ago
Reply to  Holly Martinez

Holly, what a beautiful story of success. You’ve built a legacy of loving and caring for so many where it could have all been different based on your own early experiences. You are strong and an overcomer, a person who goes for her strengths to change the future. Your story has truly touched my heart. Blessings.

Julie Folkerts
8 months ago
Reply to  Holly Martinez

Holly, what a story of success and resilience. You are an amazing woman and I enjoy your writing whenever I’m lucky enough to get to read it. Take care!

Etya Krichmar
9 months ago

Here is my Success story. I found it interesting that you wrote on the subject, Patricia. I wrote this story a while back to a prompt. It will be published in MasticadoresUSA on October 21, 2023. Here is a https://masticadoresusa.wordpress.com/2023/10/21/success-by-etya-vasserman-krichmar/ and here is a file.

Julie Folkerts
8 months ago
Reply to  Etya Krichmar

Etya, what a great story about your success! And you have achieved many successes in your life. Keep it going. I’m so honored to be in the same writing group and meet such special people. And Patricia is truly part of our success story! Thanks for sharing!

Etya Krichmar
Etya Krichmar
8 months ago
Reply to  Julie Folkerts

Thank you so much, Julie, for reading my story. I appreciate our tight knit community of writers as well and I agree we have to be grateful fir our Patricia for creating this group.

marian gardner
marian gardner
9 months ago

Patricia – I enjoyed your essay describing your very successful life. I am 10 years older than you and my circumstances took me on a different path. I was child #5 of 7 kids – my parents worked hard to provide for us but frequently depended on help from family (my Dad was child #3 of 10 kids) and the Church – he was a part-time Baptist preacher. My parents believed in God, Family and Education – in that order. After graduating from Gainesville High School in 1963, just barely 17 years old, I was hired by the Chief Cardiologist,… Read more »

Julie Folkerts
8 months ago
Reply to  marian gardner

Marion – if I could only have a civil relationship with my only sister, who is two years younger. I would call that a success, but many counselors have reminded me that you can’t make someone love you. I’ve had to learn to deal with that over the years. Thanks for your awesome story!

marian gardner
marian gardner
8 months ago
Reply to  Julie Folkerts

Julie – I hope you can find peace with your sister. My sisters are all different; but we accept each others weaknesses – we also know we could never be married to any of our brother-in-laws – LOL – In listening to many friends, I know I am a “lucky duck” as one young girl told me back around 1987 – she was talking about my having a son she had a crush on in 4th grade – but I have found it applies to many things in my life – thank you for your response to my story and… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by marian gardner
Holly Martinez
9 months ago
Reply to  marian gardner

Yes, this is a success. Wonderful story

Etya Krichmar
9 months ago
Reply to  marian gardner

What a wonderful success story, Marian. I enjoyed reading it.

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