Why You Should Redefine Success And What It Means To You


Why you should redefine success and what it means to you - Jessica Rose Williams

We’re led to believe that successful people are the ones who have it all. They earn high salaries, own big houses, have a million Instagram followers and holiday in 5 star hotels. But what about happiness? Where does that sit on the list of requirements we need to be successful? Happiness is assumed to happen as a result of having more. We all think we’d be happier if we could just win the lottery, yet there are plenty of miserable millionaires out there. I’ve even met a few.

preconceptions of success

I had a good job in HR by most people’s standards, but I hated it. It didn’t suit my personality and I got bullied. When I quit, I had no other job lined up. I talked my husband into letting me join his financial management business and for so long, I felt like I had failed. Even though I’d done an exciting thing by becoming self employed, I felt like I’d given up. I didn’t earn as much money to begin with or have a career of my own, none of which are considered successful by millennial standards.

Decluttering my life gave me the headspace I needed to realise what success really meant to me – it was happiness. This is still my measure of success now and I’ve no plans to change it. Happiness definitely didn’t come from the salary I earned spending 37.5 hours a week in a job I couldn’t stand, no matter how much it paid. Happiness didn’t come from all the stuff I bought with that hard earned salary either. Switching to a more minimal lifestyle proved that to me. It turns out, buying less is actually the easiest way to boost your earnings.

Success = happiness

It took a while but one day it finally dawned on me that I hadn’t failed by quitting and I’d been beating myself up for no reason. What I’d actually done was prioritise my happiness and been brave enough to take control of my life – that’s a far cry from failure. I’d talked someone into giving me a great opportunity and now I was working for a business I believed in, one I was wholly invested in. Now, I could strategise to my hearts content, work from home without anybody breathing down my neck and have all the freedom my old job never gave me. For an INTJ like me, this is the perfect job. I was so much happier since taking the leap, I just hadn’t married happiness with success until now.

Perhaps success isn’t what we’re all led to believe it is. Perhaps, it’s something much more unique to each of us and actually comes from filling our lives with what makes us truly happy, whatever that may be. On closer inspection, what makes us happy and therefore successful might not be what we thought it was. It might be having the ability to say no to an eighty hour work week so we can spend time with our family or having the freedom to travel to the places we daydream of. There’s no doubt that money matters and those bills need to be paid, but working ourselves to death to earn more so that we can buy more is not the solution.

Future happiness

When I think of my future self, I don’t imagine myself as being successful in terms of having stays in 5 star hotels, driving a flashy car or owning a mansion. These things don’t matter to me and they certainly don’t add value to my life. I imagine myself as someone who’s success lies in having lived a life that was true to themselves, that aligns with their values and someone who’s contributed to others in a positive way. Numbers have nothing to do with it for me.

We’re programmed to asses our self-worth based on our number whether that be our salary, our followers or even our sales figures. Realising these numbers were not my self-worth was a complete game changer for me and I’d encourage anyone to realise the same. If you’re measuring success in numbers, you’ve got it all wrong and I don’t believe this approach to life can ever bring us true happiness.

What does success mean to you and where does happiness sit on your list of requirements? Let me know in the comments below. 

If you enjoyed this post I think you’l enjoy these too…

Becoming Self-Employed. Why I Quit My 9-5 and Never Looked Back

Minimalism and Me: How it All Started

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Why you should redefine success and what it means to you. Living a minimal lifestyle helped me redefine success and what it meant to me. Turns out it's not all about big houses and a million Instagram followers | Simple living | self development | redefine success | meaning of success | minimal lifestyle | minimalist living



14 comments on “Why You Should Redefine Success And What It Means To You”

  1. Congrats on redefining success for yourself! That’s so awesome! I recently wrote about redefining adbundance on my blog- which i think is similar to success. I’m not sure i’ve ever really believed that more=happiness, but i never had anything to replace it with until i Embraced mInimalism. Success for me now is being able to be prOud of my work and making a meaningful contribution. My current position doesn’t fulfill this for me, but i am hopeful something will come up in the future.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I’m going to make sure I read your post on that over the long weekend. I definitely thought more would make me happy. I only changed my mind when I took it all away and I was happier. I’m sure you’ll make it happen for yourself soon xx

  2. Wonderful post Jess. I would have to say that I think I’ve always known deep down that happiness is my ultimate goal in life and in how I would rate the success of my life. However I think it’s very easy to get caught up in the success of our career – the money we earn and where we sit on the corporate ladder. I have recently come to see that it is not this stereotypical successful career that makes me feel successful. Instead success is waking up every day and doing something i truly love, I am truly passionate about and that gives me a feeling of fulfillment, Something I want to keep doing regardless of whether or not I get paid for it and something that makes me feel proud. But some days it is still really hard to break away from comparing myself to the stereotype of success – a work in progress!

    1. Thank you Jayde! I think we all want happiness but it’s how we go about getting it that confuses us. It is so hard, I know exactly how you feel. There’s no definite answer either because it’s so individual to us.

  3. great post jess! I agree and I think people get lost, lost and wrapped up in the superFicial junk that surrounds Them…and sometimes it takes time to re centre and re focus on what is genuinely important..without going into greath depths, i learnt from a very young age my happiness Didnt come from the fancy places i lived or what i did but who i was sharing those experiences with and how they made me feel…the job thing is a whole different stOry which im still trying to figure out!

    1. It might be something to do with the blog, not sure. I’ll look into it. Thank you for your lovely comment and ongoing support – it means the world. It is so hard to get it all right for ourselves but I don’t think we’re necessarily encouraged to get things right, we’re encouraged to stay in our bubble and strive for everything the media pushes on us. It’s wrong really. It’s no wonder there are so many unhappy people.

  4. The more posts of yours i read the more i feel like you have tapped into my mind!! I also work in hr (i’m istj so not too dissimilar to you) and have been Quite career driven but since returning from my second period of mateRnity leave i have started to Question how important my career really is. I do enjoy my job and the people i work with, which accounts for a lot, and i also need to work for ‘me’ but it no longer defines me. Nice post!

    1. I’d love to hear how you find the HR industry as an ISTJ! Sounds like we have a few things in common. Glad you found the blog.

  5. Jess, your post as got me thinking once more about the definition of “success”. i’m 67 and by “normal” standards I would never be called “successful”. During my working life, as a single divorced mother, money was always tight, but I managed to provide my children with the necessities and with lots of love. I looked after my father and later my mother and my step dad when they were ill and dying. I left work at 50 -ish to be a full time carer for my new partner’s mother who sadly suffered from Alzheimers disease. As a result of my choices I have never been flush with money, never had the latest gizmo, or the wardrobe full of clothes or the overseas holidays or the fancy cars. But I do have a deep satisfaction that I have lived in an authentic way, true to my values and to what I think is the right thing to do. To me this is ‘success’. Thank you for your post and for reminding me just how successful my life has been and continues to be.

  6. Jessica,
    I can’t stop reading your blogs. All of your posts seriously echo with me. I love that you understand being a millionaire, having a high paying job, a big salary, all the possesions etc are not the ultimate definition of happiness. Happiness can be all those things IF the person who is living that lifestyle is in fact happy with themselves internally. Happiness does come from within. Happiness is definitely a state of mind. And if they are stressed over what they don’t have or what they can’t have or what they owe and having to be constantly on to something or like you said no matter having the best job but never having the freedom and a boss that is breathing down your neck will be impossible to make anyone happy no matter how great the job may be. You are inspiring to post similar topics. =) xx

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