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What Is Success?

by Scot Chadwick

We all crave it, but what does success mean? Take time to define success in your life. Only then can you pursue and achieve it.

Success is attaining your desired outcome. It means you have accomplished a goal that you set for yourself, completing the plan you laid out. Though you likely faced adversity and personal failure, you anticipated the victory that you now enjoy.

Success Is Defined by Your Goal.

Your goal determines your success. Just as you typically embark on a journey with a specific destination in mind, so you enjoy success by reaching your desired outcome. It could be as life-altering as learning a new skill to change careers, or as incremental as saving $50 each pay period to build up your emergency fund.

Avoid drifting through life. Instead, use each day to move toward some desirable end.

Avoid drifting through life. Instead, use each day to move toward some desirable end. Choose your own adventure. Be intentional and describe your future state. You could follow a pattern like, “I will [specific accomplishment] by [date] so that I can [desired benefit].”

So, what is your goal? How will you know when you have achieved it? Having a view toward your future success helps keep you focused as you work toward it.

Success Is Inspired by Desire.

The desire for your goal will carry you forward to accomplish it. Proverbs 16:26 says, “A worker’s appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on.” What is your level of hunger? What will your success taste like? How will it make you feel?

If you really want to do it, you do it. There are no excuses.

Bruce Nauman

Be sure to clarify the desire behind the desire. What do you hope to gain as a result of your effort? What benefits do you desire? For example, you might want to have an emergency fund so that you can have peace of mind in knowing that you can handle a moderate crisis like a car accident or a broken bone.

But do you really desire it? If so, you will be pulled forward to accomplish it. If not, you will likely falter. Your pursuit of success will require you to do good things to get it. American artist Bruce Nauman has said, “If you really want to do it, you do it. There are no excuses.” Other aspects of your life will likely have to surrender priority in order for you to win. What are you willing to sacrifice?

Sometimes, instead of focusing on the desired outcome, you might focus on your daily choices and actions toward the goal. While you could get overwhelmed about preparing to run a marathon, you will find encouragement if you succeed with your daily goals of fulfilling your specific training regimen.

Success Is Achieved Through Work.

It’s your goal, so you will have to do the work to gain success. Proverbs 14:23 says, “In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Make good on your ideas by converting them into actions to produce your desired results.

Make good on your ideas by converting them into actions.

Your action plan will detail the various tasks you need to do, in what order, and at what time. While your goal may include the assistance of others, your success should primarily rest in what you will do yourself. You alone are responsible for your choices and actions. Strive to build consistency and constancy in accomplishing your goal.

Decide to start and commit to action every day. Track your progress so you can see how far you have come and how far you have yet to go. Refine your process along the way—even a marginal improvement can positively impact your results.

Avoid making excuses and taking inappropriate shortcuts toward your success. Any success attained cheaply is usually worth what you paid for it.

Success Is Informed by Failure.

You will likely experience failure in your pursuit of success. But do not automatically give up! As Sir Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Let failure refine you, not define you.

While failure might mean a lack of success for the moment, it can still lead to future success. Let failure refine you, not define you. The key is to learn from the disappointing results. What went wrong? What contributed to your failure? What people or circumstances were you counting on that you found out were beyond your control? What can you do differently next time?

Victory is not always within your grasp. You might need to modify or even overhaul your goal. But this doesn’t necessarily require you to abandon your desire to improve yourself. Look for opportunities and find new solutions that you can influence.

Do not fear failure. Tremendous success often comes to those who quickly recover from setbacks. Your attitude influences how you will rebound from failure. Be willing to risk and fail faster so you can get farther down the path toward success.


Your goal might take some time to achieve, but it will be worth it when you have achieved your desired outcome. Celebrate your success! Then plan your next goal. What will you do to keep moving forward?

Originally published on April 29, 2019

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