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What does it mean to be successful?

Success isn't something you can frame on the wall. It's not something that you can attain once and then discard as having accomplished it. It's not a level of achievement or an objective. It's not a social status or the amount of money in the bank. It's not how many languages I can speak or how many businesses I have founded.

For me, success means two things occurring simultaneously in the present moment:

  1. Doing everything that's possible to work towards my goals
  2. Being happy

If we're happy in the present moment, we are successful.

If we're doing everything that's possible in the present moment to move towards our goals, we are successful.

The goal I'm working towards in the present moment might be as simple as "getting ready for the day" or "making breakfast". It might be "finishing a blog post" or even "pumping gas so I can get to work".

Whatever my goal is in the present moment, if I'm accomplishing everything necessary to reach that goal and my mind is happy and at peace, then I feel successful.

To be successful we need to break free from the idea that success is a mountain that must be ascended. We must realize that success is what we make it. If we choose to make success unattainable, then it will be unattainable. If we choose to realize that nothing can stop us from reaching our goals, no matter how far-fetched, then we have already succeeded.

Success is being able to manage our mind under all circumstances.

The day that I considered myself to be successful was the day I decided that nothing was going to stop me from achieving the craziest of my goals. - Earl Baron

But what if you don't have any goals? In that case your goal should be to free yourself of anything that might be preventing you from discovering your purpose -- from discovering the life you want to live.

If you're content just living, just being, that's a goal too. Striving for freedom from pain and ignorance is an excellent way to live.

Success is the complete eradication of ego, because ego is the only thing that stands in the way of my absolute freedom from pain and ignorance. - Jai Dev

Success is a frame of mind and a way of thinking. It's not a destination or an objective.

Success is knowing what's possible, not just believing in it.

Success is purposeful action in motion.

What does success mean to you? What does it mean to be successful?

This post is part of a unique project organized by my buddy Jonny from TheLifeThing.com to put together a free ebook about success. Jonny asked 30 bloggers, including myself, for their personal definitions of success and how they achieve it. He then requested that we write a blog post about success to announce the free book and create a flood of inspiration around the topic. This book is totally free and full of inspirational perspectives on success. Download The SUCCESS eBook.

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11 Comments

  1. I really like this post and the way you approach success. The quote by Earl Baron is especially inspiring. Success is indeed something we define for ourselves and something that changes from moment to moment.
    For me, success is simply living my dreams and surpassing my (imaginary) limitations.
    By the way, you have an fascinating bio, especially the nomadic lifestyle!

    • Surpassing imaginary limitations is the best type of success! It’s really incredible how little of our full potential most of us actually make use of throughout our lives.

      Thanks for the comment, Bart!

  2. Hey Raam –

    I was happy to see a quote from my post here! It’s nice to know that you found it useful.

    I think you have an excellent description of success and especially when talking about people who don’t actually have specific goals. “…just living, just being, is a goal too.” I think people incorrectly associate success with the need to have grand and wild goals when clearly that is not the case.

    • Thank you, Earl!

      In this ever increasing fast-paced world, it’s so easy to forget that there’s nothing wrong with just being — with taking a moment to do just absolutely nothing. Sometimes clearing our heads (and our lives) to attain the freedom to do nothing is exactly what we need to discover our purpose and our happiness.

      I really loved your quote because it made clear exactly how I feel about life in general: by choosing to take full responsibility for our life right now, whatever happens in the future is irrelevant with regards to our success because we’re already successful in the moment!

  3. Thanks for the inspiration.

    I think for most people this form of success is difficult, as the bigger the job, the more procrastination occurs. i.e. working towards making breakfast is deemed easier than working towards a happy life.

    As an engineer, I believe planning and setting achievable, short term goals is essential.

    • Hi Jamie,

      I absolutely agree in planning and setting achievable short-term goals. Without goals it’s very difficult to measure progress and improve ourselves over time.

      I also agree that the bigger the job, the more procrastination occurs. However, my point in this post was that success is easy to achieve; it’s not “working towards a happy life” but rather “working towards being happy today; being happy right now“. It’s making the decision that anything is possible and anything I wish to achieve can be achieved.

      Making the decision to not let anything get in the way of experiencing the life I want, including my own self-doubt, is success in and of itself.

      Thank you for the comment!

  4. i agree with you about that, if ur happy ur successful, because i know some rich people who have it all, but yet they are not happy

  5. I think ur piece on Success is great.What most people dont know is dat “most failures begins in the failure to try.”They see being successful as a huge task,a mountain,something difficult; When you said to be successful we need to break free from the idea that success is a mountain that must be ascended, I think you did hit the nail on the head. Nice write-up

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