What is Your Definition of Success?

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By: Jake Kelfer, @jakekelfer

Do you want toThis article is powered by the SMU Sport Management Program. be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company? Do you want to be an electrician? Do you want to be a ticket sales account executive? Do you want to be a gold medalist in the Olympics? Do you want to be extremely rich? Do you want to be a loving mother or father?

I believe every single person in the world has his/her own definition of success. Every person is on his/her own unique journey and has the power to achieve that definition of success.

As a young professional, I am often surrounded by people who equate success with money, but after listening to hundreds of podcast interviews, reading many books and conducting my own interviews, I know that is just part of it. All people define success in their own way based on what they set out to accomplish. There is no right answer when it comes to defining success as it is up to every person to create his/her own definition and do what needs to be done in order to achieve it.

We’ve all heard people talk about how much money they want to make. Does that mean once they make X amount of money they are successful? It depends. It depends on what their definition of success is, and why they want to make a lot of money. Do they want to use that money to start a charity? Do they want to use that money to take long vacations and travel the world? The crazy thing is only you can decide what your definition of success is, and only you can decide when you achieve that definition of success.

Your definition of success can change. It isn’t set in stone, and you can edit it whenever you’d like. Now, I wouldn’t recommend changing it everyday but I do think it is good to revisit and edit your definition depending on where you are on your journey. If you are in your twenties and just graduated college, you will probably have a different definition of success than when you are forty with a family.

In every interview I conduct, I ask my interviewees what their definition of success is. I love getting inside their heads and finding out what drives them to do what they do. What seems like such a simple question is actually extremely complex and affects how and why people do what they do. After asking this question time and time again, you’d be surprised to hear that money is rarely ever mentioned but when it is, it’s as a means to achieve something else such as providing a great lifestyle for their children or to take a vacation they’ve always dreamed of. I’ve found that definitions of success often include sharing experiences with loved ones or giving their best effort to reach their maximum personal potential.

For some, success is making a boatload of money and spending it on luxury items like cars, houses, yachts, etc. For others, success is being able to provide food for their family every night. You don’t know the hardships and challenges people face every day. What you do know, however, is your own story. You can become the master of your own story and create whatever definition of success you want. To me, that is one of the most exciting and thrilling parts of life.

John Wooden said it best when he said, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” At the end of the day, you are the creator of your own success. You get to define success on your own terms. While you may not get to control every situation on your journey to achieving your definition of success, you have the power to control how you react.

As you finish this article, I hope you are starting to think about what success means to you. Think about what is important in your life. Think about what your biggest goals are in life. Think about your relationships in life. All of these will help you create your definition of success and lead you on the path you were meant to take.

I think we all have the opportunity to accomplish our wildest dreams, but it begins by defining success and believing you can achieve it.

So before you go back your daily life, I’ll leave you with one simple question: What is your definition of success?