Defining Success & What It Means to You

by | Feb 5, 2019 | life, career & business, thoughts | 4 comments

A word cloud that shows responses to what success means to you.

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with one of my oldest best friends over Thanksgiving that I really thought about the meaning of success. She and I randomly got on the subject after a late night out at the bar (I always dig a #realtalk convo IRL, even after a few drinks) and I realized how our versions of success differed. My idea of success is following my passions and ensuring I am achieving the goals I set for myself (specifically when it comes to my career), while her idea of success is getting married and starting a family of her own.

It was truly a lightbulb moment. I realized that even though we are on the pursuit of success, we’re pursuing our own version of it. We all see success differently – so what I may deem successful, may not be to you. Since that discussion with my friend, I’ve had time to digest those thoughts more. I knew there was a greater story to tell and I knew I wanted to get more women’s input on the subject. Enter – you, the Lipstick & Ink community! Over the last few weeks, I’ve asked what success looks like to you.

I was overwhelmed with joy to see the amount of responses and none at all surprised to see the variation of responses. While there were definitely some common themes, each answer was quite different from the next. It was both eye-opening and inspiring to me to see all of the responses, which you can find below. As you read through them, I hope it brings perspective, but also motivation to keep pursuing that version of success that is yours.

Defining Success & What It Means to You Pinterest Pin

Success Means….

Making a Difference

  • Kicking ass at work and making a difference for clients.
  • It means I make a difference: to my company, client, coworker – whoever – as long as it’s at least one person!
  • Finding happiness in what I bring to the world! The impact of giving feeds the soul.
  • I used to think success meant being a manager or in a leadership role, but now, I just want to be happy and feel like I’m changing people’s lives and that’s more successful to me than anything.
  • Kind and productive living to better your relationships and community each day.
  • It means I’m making progress on the things I care about and helping others at the same time.

Finding Happiness & Passion

  • When I can’t help but smile when I think about my life.
  • Doing what I love every day in my job.
  • Being happy with myself and loving what I do.
  • As I get older, it’s being happy where I am in life.
  • To have that day in my life where I’m working each day for what I’m truly passionate about.
  • Being happy and comfortable where I am in life.
  • Realizing that it’s more than a number in my bank account or the title in my job but more about happiness, growth, and spending time with family & friends.
  • I feel like I know I’ve succeeded when I’ve grown from something, even if it’s considered a failure. But then again, I don’t really like to think about whether or not I’ve “made it” because that’s when I start taking things for granted.
  • Internal fulfillment.

Financial Freedom

  • Not having to have a budget for everything.
  • Being able to support and contribute to the dreams of my family.
  • That I’m financially comfortable.
  • Being debt free.

Waking Up in the Morning with Purpose

  • When I want to get up and be productive each morning.
  • Waking up every day loving what I do and why I do it!
  • Inspiring other women and not dreading waking up in the morning to go to work!

Accomplishing What I Set Out to Do

  • Success to me is achieving goals that I set for myself. I have a planner that asks me what my goals are each month and I like reflecting back knowing I [hopefully[ accomplished my goals!
  • Achieving a goal – a lot of times we put too much pressure on the end game and not focus on the journey to get there.
  • Success to me is knowing that I worked HARD towards my goals and gave it everything I’ve got. Whether I fully achieve them or am still in the process, knowing I tried and didn’t give up means I was successful.
  • Achieving the goals I set for myself.
  • Success = accomplishing what I said I would do.
  • Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.
  • Reaching my goals.
  • Accomplishing what I set out to do.

Finding a Balance

  • Healthy work/life balance!
  • Enough money to be comfortable, retire with no worries and have happiness at home and with my health. It’s all about balance!
  • The perfect marriage between happiness and financial success.
  • To me, success isn’t so black and white. A balance between personal and professional growth is success. To me, it’s a well-rounded individual, who can do it all.
  • Being healthy and having a stable job.
  • A balance between happiness and financial freedom.
  • Success to me right now is keeping my children alive and happy, marking things off my daily to do list and feeling productive during the day, having a successful marriage, and being a good citizen. Basically, being well-rounded in every aspect of my life.

Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live. ~Anne Sweeny, Disney Media Networks

Welcome to Lipstick & Ink®, your home for everything career and wellness inspired. I’m Kelly, a Chicago-based career coach, writer, speaker, and events host.

Whether we’re working together on your career aspirations, refreshing your professional documents, or keeping your mental health in check, I encourage you to own your power and make your mark.




  1. This is such an inspiring post, Kelly! I think I define success similar to you and I never thought anyone could think otherwise. It is so interesting and refreshing to see what other people define as success! It makes me realize that it’s okay if I have a more “realistic” goal for my life and put my happiness first. This is something I didn’t always think was socially acceptable.


    • It’s inspiring to see the variation of responses, isn’t it? Thank you for reading and for your thoughts as always, Bettina!

  2. I feel famous! Haha. It was a great question to answer, one that I had not exactly asked myself before and it made me realize that I could be successful without having a fulltime job. Until 3 weeks ago when I gained a fulltime job and now my idea of success has been added onto. I feel like this is a question I should ask myself a lot in order to keep things in perspective.

    • Haha! I think it’s so good to reflect and ask ourselves questions like this periodically. Glad it got you thinking. I am so proud of you for getting a full-time job and seeing how your idea of success has shifted!


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