We’ve all been told different things about what being successful really is. Some say money, some say prestige, some say it’s doing what you want to do. Success is subjective. What does it mean to you?

I Did What I loved, Where’s My Success?

Being someone with a dream is a good thing. It can only turn bad when the dream becomes distorted. If you are never satisfied with the goal you reach, all your success seems worthless to you. The balance of being successful and actually enjoying that success is disrupted. 

Define Your Own Life and Success

Everything doesn’t have to, and shouldn’t always be perfect. There are always going to be something that isn’t perfect but that shouldn’t matter. Happiness is free.

You develop a relationship with certain ideas you have about success. But success, whether it involves money or renown, doesn’t have to meet only one gold standard. There are five essential keys to measure success.

Understand That Success and Reality Go Hand in Hand

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then beauty’s cousin, success, is in an individual’s personal perception. Why should anyone dictate what success should be  for you? Someone else’s set-in-stone prerequisites for happiness self-defeating for you. You need to identify your own idea of success, not that of someone else. When you have done that, couple it with a healthy dose of reality in what you can achieve.

Have a Back-up Plan and a Secondary Goal

One of the best pieces of advice about success I have ever heard came from an actor friend. He talked about the importance of having a back-up plan for his professional goals. Both parts of his plan for success had to do with the theatre.

“I fully intend to make it as an actor on Broadway, but I also have a secondary goal. I want to direct plays. That’s my plan B just in case. Who knows? At some point in time I may decide that directing is more fulfilling. I want to give myself options.”

Knowing that there is something else you can fall back on, a plan B, eliminates stress and the fear of failure. More options give you more chances for success and happiness.

Choosing Levels of Success

A person who runs a thriving business may not be on the level of a Jeff Besos but can that person still be called successful? Yes! Is someone who enjoys fame on Broadway as successful as a Hollywood actor who makes millions per picture? Absolutely! It is all in the mind of the person.

You don’t have to be on the same scale as that of “someone else”.  Celebrate you for what you have achieved. See yourself as a success and find contentment in what you have now.

Make it a rule to see yourself as a unique person with unique talents. No one else is you. Don’t focus on what they have or how successful they are. They should not hold the highest importance in your life. Instead, focus on the one person who should be important to you-your own self.

Rethink the Idea of Nothing Less Than One Hundred Percent

If you have made it a point of honor that you can only be happy when everything goes exactly the way you want it to go, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Let go of that attitude now! This way of thinking can only become a negative trap.

Find a satisfactory medium in your life so you can enjoy what is there in front of you. An all or nothing attitude is a sure way of guaranteeing you end up with nothing.

Know Your Own Value

Don’t become a victim of envy. Stop thinking about what you don’t have and focus instead on what you do have at this moment. Understand that feeling good about what you do have in no way makes you complacent. You are not settling for less, you are simply enjoying the now part of your life.

Make a list of your talents and what you think is great about you. Sell yourself to you. This isn’t being vain or narcissistic, it is discovering what your real value is. It is not only productive but will have a positive effect on your how you perceive yourself.

Reinvent yourself, make changes as you go along, but understand that you are living your life and not that of someone else. Your mind controls how you see the world around you. You become what you think you are.


  • Kristen Houghton

    Kristen Houghton

    Thrive Global

    Kristen Houghton is the award-winning author of the popular series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation.  She is also the author of nine novels, two non-fiction books, a collection of short stories, a book of essays, and a children’s novella. Her horror novel, Welcome to Hell, was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award. Houghton has covered politics, news, and lifestyle issues as a contributor to the Huffington Post. Her writing portfolio includes Criminal Element Magazine, a division of Macmillan Publishing, Today, senior fiction editor at Bella Magazine, interviews and reviews for HBO documentaries, OWN, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and The Style Channel. Before becoming a full-time  author, Kristen, who holds an Ed.D. in linguistics, taught World Languages on the high school and university levels. Along with her husband, educator Alan William Hopper, she is a philanthropist for Project Literacy and Shelters With Heart, safe havens for victims of domestic abuse and their pets . mailto:  [email protected]