How to Define Success in Your Life (+ Famous Examples)

by | Jul 11, 2021 | Lead in Life

success definition on a window

No two people are the same.

No two people have the same influences, life trajectories, and experiences.

As such, the way that everyone defines a vision of success is different.

Within this space, we want to give you some direction to think about your success in more concrete terms so you can jump-start your future.

We’ll also share quotes from successful individuals to help you see how other people’s definitions of success and what it means for them.

By the end, you should be able to answer the following question:

What does success mean to me?

If you want to dive into more in-depth exercises on defining your future success and creating goals, next steps, and harnessing your network to better engage in your life and work – check out our game-changing Project OTY app. 

What Is a Good Definition of Success?

When people think about a successful life or successful people, they often think about money and power.

You might think of lots of money sitting in a bank account, a big mansion, a Lamborghini, and a relaxing life on a private island.

Success oftentimes is perceived in a way that’s way different than the conventional view of private jets and yachts.

People who have achieved fame and renown, often define success in different terms than you might expect:

“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama

A measure of success is often considered to be the level of personal fulfillment throughout life, rather than a destination with more material possessions and wealth.

Mark Cuban, Shark Tank investor, and billionaire had this to say on success in an interview with Steiner Sports:

“To me, the definition of success is waking up in the morning with a smile on your face, knowing it’s going to be a great day. I was happy and felt like I was successful when I was poor, living six guys in a three-bedroom apartment, sleeping on the floor.” 

Success is also defined by the action, you take – or don’t take:

For example, Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton hotels notes:

“Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” 

According to success author and CEO of Nerium International, success comes from doing what makes a difference to you every day:

“What you do today matters. What you do every day matters. Successful people just do the things that seem to make no difference in the act of doing them and they do them over and over and over until the compound effect kicks in.” – Jeff Olson

How Do You Define Success in Your Life?

Success can be defined in any number of ways, but it comes down to what is fulfilling and important to you.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I want to live?
  • What does my ideal future like (who, what, where, when, why)?
  • What are my strengths and best qualities as a person?
  • Who do I want to be as a person?
  • What does successfully taking care of my needs look like?
  • What do I want to believe in – in the world and in myself?

Take time to understand who you and what a fulfilling future will look like to you.

Does success look like private jets, or does it look like you being in a place to give back to others, create and work at what you do best, and be happy daily?

Do you see your success in a certain way already because you see successful people online touting that you need X, Y, and Z to feel successful?

Get clear about what you want and why you want it. Life can influence the way you believe in your future and see it in your mind’s eye.

Related: How to Visualize Your Future – Top Tips

5 Keys To Success

There are a handful of key ways that you can build and achieve the success that you define for your life.

The only one that can build your success is you.

The only one who suffers if you don’t – is also you.

Success starts when you do.

Believe in yourself.

Believing in yourself is critical to achieving what you want to do.

motivational quote in neon lights

Success is more than just a straight shot up to the stars. The path to success if often studded with missteps and failure.

“The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.”  – Colin Davis

Having a strong sense of self and being confident in your abilities and strengths, is essential.

Make it a habit to remind yourself of your strengths. Identify your strengths, and write down your Unique Strengths in a place that you’ll routinely look at.

Create specific goals.

This key might feel so elementary and worth skipping but don’t.

Your goals are what drive you to action that feels in line with your future.

  • How do you know what to do next?
  • How do you know you’re taking action and attracting opportunities that are the right step forward?

Goals are the systems that you create for yourself to reach success. By setting concrete goals that are sustainable, achievable, and relevant to your success, you can set yourself up to take direct action.

If you’re at a loss on how to craft powerful goals, we teach the framework for effective goal setting in the Project OTY app. 

Take care of yourself.

You can’t get a hold on success without caring for yourself.

Success impacts all aspects of your future – social, emotional, physical, mental, financial, etc.

In order to sustain your journey to success, you need to cover the bases in your personal health across all these areas.

You need to be focusing on how you can evolve to meet your success. The person you are today may not be ready for the success you will meet later on.

How can you develop into the person that is ready to meet your definition of success?

How can you best take of yourself?

Look at sustaining a healthy way of eating, regular exercise, mental stimulation, social time with friends, and time to recharge from work.

Exist in a positive, yet tough mental mindset.

The road to success is never straightforward. As such, existing in a negative mindset will keep you stuck and unable to make progress?

How do you overcome this?

Get rid of mental chatter that doesn’t boost you up. The more that you burden yourself with complaints and critiques, the less likely you are going to be confident to charge ahead.

Be encouraging to yourself. Write down daily affirmations that support your skills and abilities.

We recommend this podcast, called Think Daily Affirmations by Dachia Arritola.

Surround yourself with people that help support and propel you. Distance yourself from those that routinely put down your ideas for your success.

You are the average of the qualities and success of those around you. It’s important to have a good circle that helps you – challenge you.


The way to define your version of success can come down to many different definitions.

When it comes down to it, true success can be considered a sum of the following:

  • happiness and fulfillment
  • hard work that leads to value for others
  • belief in oneself
  • a future authentic to your values
  • a reflection of your ideal life
  • a balance of work and personal life

“We think success is a one-way street. So we do everything that leads up to success, but then we get there. We figure we’ve made it, we sit back in our comfort zone, and we actually stop doing everything that made us successful. And it doesn’t take long to go downhill. Success isn’t a one-way street…it’s a continuous journey.” – Richard St. John

Success can include money and wealth, but there is so much more to success than those parts alone.

Your success is what you picture as helping you feel accomplished, happy and content with your life.

Comment down below and let us know how you picture your future. What do you want to feel? How do you picture success?

If you’re not sure where to go in your future in order to achieve success, we’ve got a specialized framework for leadership development and engagement activation.

Check out the unique, Project OTY process. 

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