What Is Success, Really?

Today’s Bloganuary prompt is:

How do you define success?

As I read that prompt, I thought, oh, I’ve already blogged about this. Then, I scoured this site to find the post I remembered, and it didn’t exist. I worried about my memory at that point, but a few minutes later, it all came back to me. I did write about success, but not here.

Six months ago, I was asked to write an essay for HeroPress.com, called Success Looks Different on Everyone, I Guess.

What is HeroPress? In its own words:

HeroPress tells the stories of people who have leveraged WordPress and its community to change their lives and achieve their goals. Through these stories, global connections are made and conversations had that build a stronger community, more employment and educational opportunities, and easier access to  resources.

Topher DeRosia

When I wrote that essay, I took a different approach than I normally would. I went far outside my comfort zone. I told the whole story – especially the uncomfortable parts of it. It would have been much easier to only tell the pretty parts. And that would have been inspiring enough, I suppose. But I decided that my discomfort was required to help the people who needed inspiration the most. And so I went down that road.

I started by defining success, just as today’s prompt asked of me.

What is Success?

One of the definitions that Merriam-Webster presents for the word “success” is “the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence.”

My definition of success has always been to live free of poverty. I don’t ask much of success. Just the vision of a life without the constant weight of poverty wrapped around a person’s neck is enough for me to define that life as successful. But of course, there are many ways to define success, and I suppose that makes a big difference in how people view their own lives.

Donna Cavalier

I then go on to discuss what a completely unsuccessful life I led for much of my life. The struggle seemed never-ending. There were a few bright moments, but the successes were fleeting.

This story does have a happy ending. Success did finally come. I’ll let you read the tale on your own time, If you’d like to know when, or how, or by how much.

But I’d like to also take a moment to amend the definition of success that I wrote about back then. It worries me that I only discussed my definition of success, but didn’t go on to acknowledge all the other ways we can be successful. Success isn’t just about money. I make it sound that way because that is the angle I was interested in discussing that day. But we can be successful without money being involved at all.

Success can take the form of:

  • A parent who helps a child grow to be a warm, caring human being.
  • A homeless man on the street who, in the telling of his life story, encourages someone to live another day.
  • A young girl, with learning disabilities, writes a short story that wins a prize for most original in a school contest.
  • An old woman, who has served food in a cafeteria for the last 45 years, finally graduates from college with a bachelor’s degree in Food Science.
  • A person with a disease that makes them weak, and despite their trembling hands, creates a work of art.
  • A middle-aged woman who has spent a lifetime with the label of “bad cook”, learns to make amazingly delicious meals.
  • A depressed person gets out of bed.
  • A student passes a test.

Find your successes. No matter how small they may seem, they matter. And if you haven’t yet met your definition of success, spend some time considering the lessons I took so long to learn that I shared in the HeroPress essay. Perhaps some of them are holding you back as well.

Success. I wish you much of it, in ways big, and in ways small.

This post is part of the WordPress Bloganuary Challenge for 2023, where everyone participating is provided a writing prompt each day. Today’s prompt was to write about how I define success.

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