What is your definition of success?

Do you class yourself as a success? Are you living a successful life on a daily basis?

Recently questions relating to success have been swirling around my head.

When I first arrived in Hong Kong I felt the opposite of successful.

Here the notion of success is related to money and power.

Usually the initial onslaught of questions you’re asked when you meet someone includes ‘what industry do you work in, where do you live, how much rent do you pay and is this your first overseas posting?’

To say it’s intense is an understatement, particularly for me.

Because I don’t have a traditional ‘job’ I’m tagged as a ‘trailing spouse’ or a ‘Tai Tai’ (married woman who doesn’t work).

If you know me, you know that these labels don’t sit well at all. Plus, you can imagine being known as a ‘trailing spouse’ doesn’t do much for my self-worth.

So this got me thinking – is my view of success shaped only by cultural and social expectations?

The answer is ‘No.’

After much research, soul searching and self-development work this is what I have discovered:

1. Success Is Subjective

Everyone perceives success differently, which is what makes the world fascinating.

My idea of success is probably quite different to yours, and there is nothing wrong with that.

The catalyst for this realisation was last week I found out that my beautiful cousin didn’t accept a promotion at work. He did this so he could spend quality time with his young family.

I’ll admit that when I first heard this, my heart dropped. I instantly thought of all the potential my cousin has and I went into judgement mode.

Giving up a promotion doesn’t really fit into the societal norm of power and money equating to success.

But I realised that all that matters is that my cousin is happy. His family is his priority. Having a happy family and spending time with them is his definition of a successful life, and that’s brilliant.

I’m deeply grateful for my cousin’s actions showing me that success is subjective and that he has stayed true to what makes him happy.

I encourage you to be open with your idea of what a successful life looks like and embrace the fact that everyone has different priorities and passions.


 2. Your Work Does Not Equal Your Worth

This nugget of wisdom is thanks to Marie Forleo and a very well timed video I watched last week.

Marie reiterates that we are all equal regardless of our job title.

A lawyer is no better than a waitress. An entrepreneur is no better than a librarian. A banker is no better than a Tai Tai. (I had to add that one in!).

Marie says ‘Our true worth does not come from the work we do, it comes from who we are as human beings.’


Don’t compare your job title to others and remember everyone is equal.


3. Defining Success Is Ever-Evolving

I love reading self-development books and last year I devoured Arianna Huffinton’s ‘Thrive.’

This book helped show me that my definition of success has evolved.

Living a truly successful life equates to far more than the accumulation of money and power.

Throughout ‘Thrive,’ Huffington focuses on a third metric of success, which consists of four pillars: wellbeing, wisdom, wonder and giving.

It’s this third metric which focuses on our human capital that helps balance out the dominance of money and power. Huffington describes money and power as a two-legged stool.

You can balance on them for a while, but eventually you will topple over.”

Over the last few years my idea of success has expanded. I use to define success in a more materialistic way. The house I owned, the car I drove and my career.

But I have developed a deeper appreciation of success, which taps into this third metric.

I’m more focused on my health, I’m committed to meditation and delving into my spiritual growth, I aim to genuinely connect with people, I place more importance on experiences rather than possessions and I focus on what I can do for others.

As I’ve evolved my priorities have changed and I now have a more balanced idea of what a successful life looks like.

Take time to reflect and see if your perceptions of success have changed and expanded, as you have grown older.


4. Success doesn’t lie in the result – success lies in the progress that we make

For me, and at this stage of my life, I see success as continual self-growth and personal progress.

I think back to how much I have grown as a person from my Uni student days, to having my first marketing job and when I started my business.

My view of the world has changed, how I thought I would be living is different and how I view myself has transformed – and all for the better.

By focusing on personal progress it helps keep you focused, especially if you don’t get the results you had hoped for or things don’t work out the way you had expected.

When you’re evaluating your success, place more importance on your progress rather than the end result.


So I challenge you – how do you define success for yourself right now?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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