Journal prompt: Define success

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately after coming across my old journals from high school. I posted earlier this week about allowing ourselves to dream big – as we do when we are younger.

Today as I was journaling, and thinking about the things the younger me wanted but didn’t have, I realised something. I am unsure of what success looks like – or at least, what it looks like to me. I don’t know how to define success in my own life.

I must say, I was a little shocked. As much as I know what I want to achieve in my life (and a lot of that has changed from when I was younger!) I wasn’t able to clearly articulate what my life would look like if I were ‘successful’.

Success obviously means different things to different people – for some it is the more obvious signs of success such as a nice house or car, getting married, earning a certain amount of money. For others it is simply to wake up each day with a smile, or to spend their time as they would like.


Somehow I had managed to avoid answering this question for myself, despite the fact that I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want more of in my life.The more I journaled about this, the clearer I got.

For me, success is:

  • being able  to support myself (and my family-to-be) financially
  • being able to travel regularly
  • making a living using my creativity and being myself
  • the freedom to choose how I spend my time and how much I work
  • completing creative projects such as writing and art
  • building my own house with my own hands – and not owing money on it
  • helping others to live satisfying and fulfilling lives

A few of these things I was unaware of. The first one was a bit of a surprise – I had always assumed I would be happy for my partner to be the breadwinner while I took care of the family. But actually, I have realised that it is important to me to contribute financially and even support our family so my partner can follow his creative dreams.

What does success mean to you? You might think you know, but try answering the following prompts. It’s good to have a clear idea because otherwise it’s difficult to know how you feel about your life and what you want to achieve.

>>> Prompts:

First of all, identify what it is you value. What is most important to you in life?

Growing up, what did it mean to you to be successful as an adult? Who did you admire for their success – what did they have/do? (For example, I wanted nothing more than to be Mariah Carey because of her amazing voice and huge international success – now I’m not so sure I’d want that at all!)

Do you still admire these people, or are there new people you admire? What is it about them that you admire?

If you were to meet someone who you felt was successful, what would their life look like? Is it different from how society tends to define success? How? How does it tie into your values?

At the end of your life if you were to look back on what you have done, what would your life look like if you had been successful? Or, if you were to read your own obituary, what would you like it to say?


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