Defining Success for Yourself

When have you felt successful?

How do you define success for yourself?

Among college students with whom we’ve worked, success sometimes has to do with classes, internships, clubs and sports. Some students cite the feeling of success that comes from communicating effectively in another language or navigating challenges in another culture.  Others mention being acknowledged for excellence, by getting accepted into college, earning good grades, or receiving positive feedback from supervisors.  Still others view success as being happy, feeling challenged, reaching goals, working hard, or being engaged. Some define success in college as making it to graduation.

What about success after college? For some people, success is connected to their career advancement—prestigious position, salary, promotions. For others, success is about providing for family, having strong relationships, contributing to a community, or having the resources to enjoy hobbies, interests, or travel. Success can be linked to health or fame or love or security.

In the CCPD, we encourage you to reflect on the ideas about success promoted by parents, schools, and society, as well as on your own inner notions of what success might look and feel like to you.  

Some reflections on success to jumpstart your own definition:a concise compilation of traditional definitions of success as put forth by “9 Incredibly Successful People,” including Arianna Huffington, who says money and power aren’t enough, and billionaire Richard Branson, who defines success as being “actively and practically engaged.”