How to Define Your Personal Version of Success6 min read

Knowing what success means for you is something that’ll help you develop yourself. Knowing what really is important to you will enable you to take vital steps forward towards achieving your goals. So, what is your definition of success?

Thinking about your definition of success will help you to understand more about what you enjoy and what motivates you. This will help you with developing the skills you need to succeed in your career as well as helps you plan out where you actually want to go. What can you expect from this article? I start this article with explaining to you why success is a journey. Then I’ll move on to talk a little bit about motivations and values as they play a huge part in your definition of success. I also give you a little insight in my personal definition of success. Are you ready to start? Great!


In order to be successful in your career and life, you need to know what success actually is for you in the first place. In order to set effective goals and move towards success, you first need to have an idea of what this looks like to you. This could be in any or all areas of your life such as work, academia, your personal and social life, or any secret ambitions or skills you want to develop. It doesn’t really matter, as long as YOU know what you want. Knowing what you want in life and your career can be quite a challenge. I think a lot of people have no idea what they actually want to achieve because defining goals can be quite daunting. It’s not as easy as it sounds because you have to go deep into yourself, think about your values and motivations (I’m going to talk about this in more detail later on). If you’re ready to define concrete goals, don’t forget to use the SMART technique, which I explain here.

What I want you to know is that even if you know what you want to achieve in your life, it will always be a journey. Honestly, success doesn’t happen overnight. All those people you notice that are “suddenly” successful: They probably worked a hell lot to get into this position and had some sleepless nights over it. I recently watched a great YouTube video featuring Richard St John. He talks about his journey to success. His main argument is that in order to achieve success it is necessary to understand that it is a continuous journey, not a straight line. It is a journey of learning, improving and achieving and always pushing yourself towards your goals. I think this is so true. If you stop working on yourself and your goals, you stop moving forwards. Don’t rest on your laurels.


As I already mentioned, knowing your motivators is important if you want to create your definition of success. It’s essential to understand your motivations (and values) to help you drive your career development and/or life goals in the right direction. No one can motivate you to do things, you have to motivate yourself! If you realize HOW you are motivated you can apply this knowledge to understand how you learn and how you work. How do you find out what motivates you? Think about this simple, yet effective, question: What gets you out of bed in the morning (other than your alarm clock)?

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Knowing what success means for you is something that'll help you develop yourself. Get to know your version of success.           Knowing what success means for you is something that'll help you develop yourself. Get to know your version of success.

To get an even better understanding of your motivators, I want to explain to you what types of motivators there are. Basically, there are two different types of motivators: intrinsic and extrinsic.

  • Intrinsic means that you are doing something because you enjoy doing it or because you think it is the right thing to do. This kind of motivation has its origin in yourself.
  • In contrast, extrinsic means that something or someone else is the trigger for your motivation or that there is an external reward for doing something (for example, to get paid).

Got it? Now I want you to think about some personal intrinsic and extrinsic factors that motivated YOU. What were situations you were really motivated? Get a pencil out and write it down. I give you 10 minutes to think about it.

Finished thinking about your intrinsic and extrinsic motivators? Great! You just made a huge leap in the right direction for your definition of success. Again, knowing what your motivations are is a key point in defining goals and success. A little extra tip: If you’re trying to find out what motivates you for your career, you may want to consider factors such as travel, flexibility, creativity, work-life balance, progression or financial rewards.


Like motivations, your values play an essential role in your definition of success. Values are things you personally find important, or meaningful. They are unique to you, things you believe are important for your life. It can be difficult to pin down your core beliefs, because, again, you need quite a good understanding of yourself for it. But don’t worry, I’m pretty sure you’ll get the hang of it if you think about it for a while. Try to write down your top three values. Values you may want to consider for yourself are, for example:

  • compassion
  • belonging
  • balance
  • ambition
  • curiosity
  • family
  • fitness
  • insightfulness
  • leadership
  • making a difference
  • understanding
  • teamwork
  • traditionalism.

Phewww, you’ve done quite a lot of work today, haven’t you? I hope you are a step further in knowing what your definition of success is. I also want to share my personal definition, maybe it helps you defining yours, too. Success for me is a life-long process of learning, improving and striving for new knowledge. On the one hand, I want to have a “traditional” career, where I can go beyond myself and work independently. Because I really like what I’m studying (for everyone who doesn’t know, I’m doing a degree in New Media), I think it’s so interesting and I appreciate the privilege to be able to go to university and get an education (not just a degree). But on the other hand, I also want to see the world and travel because I believe that learning and success aren’t all about working. It is also about sharing ideas with others, being curious and open-minded. To be passionate about things. To get inspired by others. Success for me is getting out of my comfort zone over and over again.

Do you have an idea about your definition of success? Share it down below!

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