Success: What does it really mean?

Success. We all want to have it. To experience it. To live a fulfilled life because of it. Some want it on a grand scale and they’re not afraid to admit that. Then there are others who would just settle for small hints of it throughout their life. I’m no different to everyone else. I’ve always marveled at the idea of being called successful although I never personally associated it with anything specific. Whether I score well on a test, publish a book, or achieve a goal I thought to be impossible, I will be content in knowing that I was successful even if only for a brief moment.

After all of this contemplation you would expect me to be able to create a clear definition of what I think it really means. However, I was unable to do this. I do understand the word but by thinking in-depth about it I could only create a vague definition.

I think that asking a person what success means to them is like asking what their favourite colour in a rainbow is. Not everyone will choose the same favourite colour and not everyone will have the same successes. All of your choices will have equal importance no matter what you decide for both categories. Therefore generalisation is impossible just like a fully succinct definition. Does that make sense to anyone but myself?

Eventually, in order to continue with this blog post, I made the decision to just find the definition elsewhere instead of thinking of one myself.

So, in my moment of need I did what most people do these days and …

…typed it into Google.

This is what the internet told me.

Success ~ The accomplishment of an aim or purpose

That seems accurate enough and something vague, which is what I expected but…it wasn’t the only definition. Written below was an archaic definition. In this case, the meaning of the word success that was once used regularly has been altered by time. This is what the archaic definition of success meant.

Success (Archaic version) ~ The good or bad outcome of an undertaking

I found it surprising that a word, which is now referred to positively, could have once been the result of something negative. So, what was going to be a brief post about the true meaning of success has now turned into something even more complicated.

You’re probably wondering what inspired this blog post so this is the reason why. Recently, I completed a mock exam at school. I really tried hard to revise properly for it and decided that I would make it a priority. This priority meant that I didn’t write any new blog posts or read any books I had been wanting to read. I sat in my room, listened to music and spent hours writing revision cards. The morning of the exam came and I was nervous but hoped my revision would result in a good grade at the end. When I finally found out my grade it wasn’t what I had wanted to get and I was disappointed that I had been unsuccessful. It was annoying to think that I had tried so hard and still failed to achieve. Nevertheless, it was also this failure that made me really think about what success means to me.

I could continuously write about this topic because it really is vast. After all everyone measures success differently so it can never fully be described. Therefore I’m going to end this post with a quote I believe really exemplifies the true meaning of success.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts ~ Winston Churchill 

What does success mean to you? Let me know in the comments and…

…Until next time keep dreaming x


13 thoughts on “Success: What does it really mean?

  1. I love the words by Winston Churchill……..Always inspires me.Similar to your test,I also was preparing for one my exam for almost a year.The results were published a few days before and it was not on a par my expectation.Though I would not term it as failure,I would rather not call it success also.What I can say is that ,I JUST MADE SOME PROGRESS.Hope I would have to continue with my efforts for 1 more year in order to achieve what I really want.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the key thing is to stay positive when we don’t succeed. I love the idea of saying you’re ‘making progress’ instead of saying you’re ‘failing’ 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a thoughtful response to a large area of subject matter..!

    There’s a school of thought out there that says – certainly in children – we shouldn’t reward achievement in the yes/no sense. The rationale is that if you tell a child: “Oh. That is the best drawing of an elephant I’ve ever seen.” and then they draw another elephant and it doesn’t get the same response: they will feel bad, and this fear of failure will stop them trying going forward.

    If you reward effort and underline the importance of trying and putting your all into something, this pays dividends in the future.

    I think you should certainly consider this latter point, especially considering written exams are a very one dimensional way of assessing knowledge or understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment it really made me feel better. It’s definitely true that the fear of failing holds people back because in the past I was unsure about sharing my writing with others just in case they wouldn’t like it. Reading your comment made me realise that although I didn’t get the desired grade, the effort I put into revising also holds some importance 🙂


  3. Success for me is living in recovery. I suffer from bipolar with psychotic features and have been “down” for two years with it. So success for me means getting up, getting a shower, getting dinner in the slow cooker, you get the idea. I have had success in my life: married 29 years, 3 great kids, 2 college degrees, a load of good friends. But success can be just the teeny tiny things. hugs. lily

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with you that small successes through life are just as important as the big ones. However, I think your successes are much bigger than you may even think yourself. The idea of even getting into university next year seems daunting never mind having two degrees! Finally, I would just like to say that although I don’t have personal experience with mental illness, I know that it must be very difficult living in recovery and that is something I think is a very important success 🙂 x


  4. I like how you said that we have diff meaning of the word success. And the Archaic definition, I just learned now! Success is a very positive word to me, until now. And I haven’t really thought about it, but I think success, for me, need not to be that great or big. What matters more is what you feel along with what you achieved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was surprised myself when I found the archaic definition. I also view success very positively because until now I didn’t realise that it used to mean something completely different. Smaller successes are most definitely just as important because I think it’s good to appreciate the little things you have achieved.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
    ― Leonardo da Vinci

    and for the archaic version,

    “A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions–as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.”
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

    above all,

    “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.”
    ― Bob Dylan

    so go define success for yourself, fill it with things that make you happy,
    like writing a great article, or reading a great book, or roaming around chatting with a good friend,
    whatever makes you happy, do it and you are successful,

    “Success is getting what you want, happiness is wanting what you get”
    ― W.P. Kinsella

    if people call you a failure, then be a failure, because being happy matters more than being successful,
    besides it’s just a term.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely love the quotes that you have used to describe what success means to you. I think sometimes we all need to remember that success shouldn’t define us and as you have written above ‘it’s just a term’. In a way I consider being happy to be a success because it means that you must be doing something right in your life.


  6. exactly, and your “right thing” which you love to do,
    need not match the “right thing” of the rest of the society or world or your family or friends or anyone for that matter,
    your “right thing” should be truly your’s,
    no matter how annoyed people around look like, because you know you deserve to be happy,
    and guess what it’s just a choice. Go get happy, and you end up being successful.

    a funny one,

    “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure. ”
    ― Mark Twain

    funny but truth,
    if you believe everybody, everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong, isn’t it crazy,
    so believe yourself, and follow the quote.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for another great quote and encouraging comment. I agree with what your saying and I think 2015 is the year that I believe in myself, do what makes me happy and then no matter what I’ll always be able to consider myself somewhat successful. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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