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Redefining Success to Achieve Superior Mental Health

It’s human nature to crave significance, but is everything you’re sacrificing worth it? These 10 questions will help you redefine and personalize success. You achieve more and feel better doing it!

Is your definition of success causing stress and anxiety? While success is a universally sought-after endgame, it usually comes with a price tag. What are we willing to pay to have our dream house, job, car, title, and life? How long can we bear the sleepless nights and the constant bleeding of work into our homelife? What does it mean to be successful and how do we measure it anyway? In a world where we can measure anything, let’s make sure we’re measuring the right things accurately.

We often measure our success in ways that leave us feeling inadequate and unworthy. We constantly compare ourselves to co-workers, family members, friends, social media influencers and celebrities. At some point, we determined that success is defined by status, wealth, titles, education, accolades, small waistlines, likes and shares, our children’s success, and anything else that suggests we’ve “arrived”. Then, we look back at ourselves and instead of considering all we have done, we take inventory of all that we haven’t done.

We spend copious amounts of time trying to measure up in the wrong ways. We must redefine what constitutes as success, and reconsider how we measure it; not doing so will continue to claim both lives and dreams. Individually defining success is a life-altering conversation that will help you avoid losing yourself in the pursuit of what many think brings happiness and satisfaction: more.

How is your definition of success hurting you?

Mainstream success is an illusion that will keep you overworked, underpaid, and resentful. The American dream is subjective, despite societal construction. Don’t spend your entire life trying to measure up to standards of success that don’t resonate with you such as an hour-glass figure, a six-figure income, fame and power; attempting to do so will leave you feeling like you’re not enough.

The notion of chasing “enough” explains why so many “successful” people battle deeply with depression and anxiety. On the outside, they seem to have it all, but on the inside, they feel as though they have nothing. It also explains why although we are wealthier than we have ever been, we are simultaneously the most dependent on antidepressants we have ever been (Gould and Friedman, 2016; Ewing, 2020). Which begs the question, what really makes one successful?

How should you be measuring success anyway?

Success is personal, it can’t be universally quantified. Defining success by materialistic standards is problematic because it’s an ever-changing standard that leaves you chasing more, and more will never be enough. Success must be defined individually and rooted in what you have control over like your personal habits and abilities.

In redefining success, we mustn't allow success to hinge on something we may lose or something we can’t control, like health, wealth, status or love. Instead, we must resist worldly markers of success and define it by whether or not we are actualizing our dreams to become who we desire. If reaching our personal goals is how we determine our success, then the following questions are more indicative of whether or not we are on the road to success.

Success isn’t found in doing what everyone else is doing; success is found in doing something that furthers you in your journey and opens the doors to help others do the same.

10 questions that determine success

  1. Did I do something today to get closer to a goal?

  2. Was I faithful today, in doing what I set out to do?

  3. Did I make a way where there seemed to be no way, that others can follow?

  4. Did I make today better for someone else, outside of myself?

  5. Am I maintaining health in my life (physical, spiritual, emotional, relational)?

  6. Did I do things with integrity?

  7. Did I do my personal best today?

  8. Did I take the opportunities that I was presented with today?

  9. Is my work bearing fruit?

  10. Did I try something new, regardless of whether or not I failed, did I take a risk today?

There is success in the everydayness of life, yet we rarely count it as such. We have been conditioned to believe that the only success worth celebrating is that which others can see. The short-sighted view of success we’ve adopted negates the daily victories that so many of us experience. Success isn’t found in doing what everyone else is doing; success is found in doing something that furthers you in your journey and opens the doors to help others do the same.

A meaningful life is a successful life. A life that adds to the lives of others, is successful. Success is less about what you accumulate over your life and more about the legacy of progression you leave behind. What are you doing today to build a better tomorrow for the next generation?

Why these questions are better indicators of success:

These questions highlight that success comes in the daily habits we carry out, not lucky leaps of faith or massive overhauls. Small consistent steps toward your own goals will get you closer to your dreams than following the foot trail of someone else who is pursuing theirs. When you clarify your standards for success you will be far less likely to chase the world’s standards and simultaneously, you’ll be less susceptible to other’s judgements of your success.

What you do in your “short game” will determine the outcome of your “long game”. Failure in the day-to-day will only accumulate to failure in the end if you don’t learn from your daily shortcomings.

What happens when I fail?

Once we embrace failure as a part of success, we will realize that we can only fail when we give up or don’t try. When we allow failure to be a part of success, we can rewrite what it means to be successful. Failure is merely finding something that didn’t work the way we thought. It’s what you learn in failure that will eventually lead to success. What works for one person doesn’t always work for the next; there is no single road to success. God didn’t intend for you to take someone else’s successful road; he wants to lead you to your own.

Let your success be determined by your faithfulness and diligence to do your personal best, as you strive toward your goals and ideas of success. Measure yourself to yourself, and yourself alone. Never at any point in history did anyone find success by doing what everyone else was doing; therefore, you will not find success in trying to imitate others. Success is found in doing what only you can do, the way only you can do it.

Pro tip: Journaling highlights small victories that accumulate to larger victories. Take time daily to record:

1. What Goal did you set to accomplish today? Did you do it? If not, what could you have done differently?

2. What is something you did today that got you a step closer to your long-term personal goal?

3. What is one thing you must do tomorrow to get closer to one of your goals?


Ewing, J., (2020, September 23). The United States is the richest country in the world, and it has the biggest wealth gap. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Gould, S. and Friedman, L., 2016. Something startling is going on with antidepressant use around the world. [online] Business Insider. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 March 2021].


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