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What does success mean to you?

September 4, 2013

Mochi and Macorons asks, what does success mean to you?.

My parents always just wanted us to be happy and be able to provide for ourselves.  That was and still is their basic definition of success, and one I’ve adopted for myself.  Looking at it from a different angle, if someone asked me what I’d want for my parents, it would be for them to be happy and to be able to provide for themselves.  That is what I’d want for anyone!  (Ability to support oneself is even a bit fuzzy, as I would count stay-at-home parents in this category if the family is able to stay afloat.  I would NOT consider a self-supporting drug dealer a success.)

I never sought money, per se.  While I admired challenging careers, I never aspired to be “rich.”   However, I definitely sought financial stability.    We had some rough financial stuff in my late teens, and maybe that influenced my style.  Or maybe it is just an innate saver / anxious personality, but for whatever reasons, I really really wanted to have stability.  I did not want to live paycheck to paycheck.  I did not want to worry about money.  In order to get to that state, I spent my first few years after college obsessively worrying about money!  Haha.  I’m more normal now, depending on who you ask.

I got a practical degree that led to a practical job (which I happened to love) and a “good” starting salary.  It was safe, and I enjoyed it.  Moving in with T in 2009 made the L.A. sized rent check more tolerable.  By that time, I’d saved an emergency fund, got several raises, had a good start on retirement savings, and for the first time in my life, I felt truly financially at ease. Ever since then, it seems like we’ve been able to do most things we want to do without significant sacrifice or anxiety.

I got to a “successful” state through fairly traditional means (corporate career), but that was really the easiest option for me and the one that suited me best.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t think there are a million other ways a person could go about it.  Happiness and ability to support yourself are versatile goals. Attack them however you wish

But what is success mean to me, beyond that?  I reached my minimum “successful” state  years ago, but it isn’t like I have checked this “success!” box and kicked back and relaxed!  This is a question I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.  What does success mean to me, going forward from where I’m at?  Happiness and freedom, of course, but I have those as well.  From a lifetime happiness optimization perspective, what do I want to push for next?  What would make a difference to me?  To the world?

And how about you?  What is the minimum bar you set for success?  Have you achieved it?  What’s next?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. oilandgarlic permalink
    September 4, 2013 8:32 am

    My definition is pretty much the same as yours. Sometimes it’s hard because I feel like I should have been more ambitious and climbed higher, but overall I’m happy with my job and career/salary. I don’t think most people would consider me successful though, as success is usually defined as high-paying jobs and titles.

  2. September 5, 2013 5:05 am

    Excellent post 🙂 I’m linking to it, and I think we’re both on the same page, although for me, money did factor in a little due to my education / upbringing.

  3. September 8, 2013 9:00 am

    I always wanted to be upper middle class like one of my cousin’s families (who were lawyers), so I wouldn’t have to scrimp and save and worry so much about money. I am! But I still have lots to strive for professionally, so there’s no sitting on my laurels.


  1. September 2013 Budget Roundup = $208,279.19 a decrease of ($14.31) or 0.01%!

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