“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).
What pops into your mind when you hear the word ‘success’? Is it having the latest sports car or a big house? Is it climbing the ladder at work, leaving all your colleagues behind? Is it settling down and having a family? Or is it about how other people perceive you?
Our understanding of success can really shape how we see ourselves, affecting our confidence and satisfaction levels. It’s important to work out what success looks like to you personally so that you can either work towards achieving it or redefine your idea of success.
Here are some examples of what success looks like (or doesn’t look like) to some people:
The people pleaser
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody” (Bill Cosby).
For some people, success is having a huge network of friends, both in real life and on social media. It’s all about getting more than 100 likes for a photo or having a celebrity retweet something. Some are prepared to do anything to please their friends/fans, even if it means sacrificing their time, money and values. There’s nothing wrong with being popular, but is being liked a true indicator of success?
“The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes” (Benjamin Disraeli).
Are you constantly looking out for the next big thing: that perfect job, that glorious romantic encounter, that lottery win? If so, you might be missing whatever’s right under your nose. It’s important to be ready to take on new challenges and to plan ahead, but you may already be enjoying success without recognising it.
The pleasure seeker
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful” (Albert Schweitzer).
There is a certain truth to this quote, but happiness is often dependent on circumstance. How do you pursue happiness? Is your happiness selfish, routed in carnal pleasures? Or are you enjoying the real joy that comes from walking with God? Do you find happiness in pay checks or in your children’s laughter? It’s great to love what you do, but if you measure success against how ‘happy’ you feel, you may feel that your success levels fluctuate rapidly from day to day.
“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others” (Marianne Williamson).
Whether you serve others in your workplace, church or community, using our God-given skills to benefit others can only be a good thing. But perhaps you feel as though you aren’t making the most of your talents. If so, it might be time to look for a new job, volunteer position, church role or hobby. Serving others isn’t an obvious indicator of success, but Jesus came as a servant and our greatest indicator of success is to be like Christ in all that we do.
Are you enjoying true success?
“Success in life could be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals” (Deepak Chopra).
Most people will see success as a mixture of the elements described above. You may already be ‘successful’ without realising it. Or maybe you need to make adjustments in your life to achieve your definition of success. That might mean fixing damaged relationships, spending more time with God or looking for a role in which your skills are used for a greater purpose. Ask God for guidance as you seek success in all areas of your life.
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