top of page

Dear Lifelines: Struggling with Success

Dear Lifelines,

My cousin mentioned to another relative that she felt I wasn’t successful. I feel that I am. Who’s right?

Struggling with Success

Dear Struggling;

Thanks for your question and your further thoughts and comments on the matter. In the online dictionary (, the term ‘success’ is defined in a couple of different ways. In one suggested definition ‘success’ is defined as, “The favourable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors,” whereas another meaning is, “The attainment of wealth, position, honours, or the like.” So depending on your own personal definition of what the goal is that you are attempting to attain (or ‘the like’ part of the definition), the definition of success will alter with each person. So what one person finds satisfying in life is not necessarily the same satisfying outcome that another person will be seeking. Some might measure wealth, property ownership, a career or belonging to a particular social class as success while others strive for happiness, a healthy family or world travel and experiences as success. No rules apply when it comes to success. It would be stifling of us to judge people and their experiences and goals as more or less successful as ourselves. It isn’t fair to compare when we are not dealing with the same value scale. In other words, we are all using different scales and measures unique to ourselves. It’s like the old saying of comparing apples to oranges – it just doesn’t compute.

Your question about what constitutes success plagues many people, but in your case it seems that you really answered your own question. You mentioned that you believe that you are successful, so we could assume that you have reached that personal level of happiness, financial goal or successful family life that you were knowingly or unknowingly working towards. It sounds like you are satisfied with your life and your success and that is really what matters. Thanks for making us contemplate this flexible and deeply personal concept of ‘success’.



‘It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall.’ Stephen R. Covey


bottom of page