Success. What’s Your Definition?

By Kathleen E. Murphy

It’s the time of year when many students will be graduating from either high school or college, or perhaps from some other program format which will be handing them a diploma. With this type of achievement, particularly for college or other program graduates (e.g., trade schools), it naturally brings on the age-old question of “what will you be doing afterwards”? My first thought when I hear this question is why can’t people skip this question and accept the act of graduating is in fact an act of success itself? I think they do, but it should be further recognized and celebrated for longer than simply the graduation ceremony. This brings me to the point of thinking through what are the elements which define success?

Fast forward past graduation and into the “working world”. Here’s where many people begin to stress out about how they are defining themselves from a success perspective, and here are some samples of what may be going through their brains…..have I accepted a position at the right company, am I on the “fast track” to move up the career ladder, am I networking with the right people, or enough people? These are some of the questions early in their career people are thinking about, and this may not be the best use of their energy. I say this because if you study truly successful people, it really doesn’t fully matter what you are doing early on in your career. The point is to do the best you can do in the role you are in, and to leverage this role as a stepping stone, unless you are in a field which requires a strictly defined path (e.g., nursing, engineering, teaching).

Success can be defined many ways, and I challenge you not to be boxed-in and limited by others, or via the more traditional methods of how success in numerous first world countries is defined (e.g., money, fame, status). Instead, try a new perspective and think about success in smaller more “bite size” pieces, and in terms of achieving success by other methods. A few to consider are ones such as your health (e.g., mental and physical), how genuine your friendships are and how long they have lasted, whether you have a family or network to support you in times of celebration or crisis and how much freedom you have to make choices in your life which can make each day better, or another person’s life better because of you being in it.

Yes, success is often thought of in monetary terms of status and achievement, but what if money and status did not matter? Could you then define success as achieving happiness each day, or perhaps everyone on the planet being kind and accepting of each other? Perhaps success could be defined simply by ticking off all the boxes on your “to do list” each day, or teaching another person about something they did not know? The point I am making is to stop stressing out about how success is defined by others, or by the standards you have had ingrained into you since you were a young child. Take time to create your own definition of success, and do not empower others to do this for you. You will only end up being disappointed, as someone else’s definition of success is always going to be different from your own. Stop comparing yourself to others. Think about this for a moment. I did, and it made all the difference in the world to me. I hope it does for you as well.

Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me TooMarket Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at


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