Written by: Mike Smith | 22 Dec 2022

Does success look different for everyone?

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Having spoken to tens of thousands of people over my recruitment and coaching career, the short answer is yes.

Success will look very different from person to person. It’ll be based on various individual factors, including several factors that you had little control over while growing up.

I will have to stereotype below to get my point across, but please don’t take it too seriously. Yes, I know there are outliers in all areas, but I’m keeping it general.

Some of the most impactful factors involved in how we perceive success will be born out of our childhood, either directly or indirectly through our parents, oftentimes subconsciously.

Are you from a financially stable, well-off middle-class family? Chances are you’ll look to at least replicate that yourself.

Did your CEO father go to Oxford to study a PhD in Astrophysics? Again, chances are your vision of success will be substantially higher than earning the average UK salary living in a 2-bed flat.

And at the opposite end of the spectrum, if you came from a working class family who were often in tight financial positions which included renting accommodation, then perhaps having a stable career and looking to buy your home will be the epitome of success?

But why are we using financials are a benchmark for success?

Even though lots of people will gauge how successful they are based on physical materials they own, or the number in their bank account, there are LOTS of people will use various other points to gauge success. Did you raise a happy, loving and healthy family? Are you in a great physical and mental condition, or perhaps you’ve just overcome a physical or mental health condition? Did you lead a fun, enjoyable life with few regrets? Did you travel to all the countries you’ve ever wanted to visit? All of this while holding a perhaps average quality job?

The point here is that while thinking about your future career, it’s often at the forefront of people’s minds to think solely about the financial rewards. And while that is important to a lot of people, it’s not critical to everyone. Would you rather earn an average salary doing a job you love that’s rewarding, or one that you don’t enjoy, dread each Monday, but earn 50% more? That’s a very personal decision that is up to you, and you should try to avoid letting people close to you assert pressure to change your opinion, even if it’s subconscious.

Think of success as a synonym with happiness.

For me personally – and the majority of people I speak to – it’s a combination of most of the areas listed above. I want to live a comfortable life, with few financial worries, raise a happy and healthy family, with enough disposable income to take a holiday every year, while holding a job I love. I don’t care about fast cars, or flashy watches. But that’s just me.

Also, I should say this. Your opinion on what success looks like often changes throughout your life. Your focus and ambitions are much different at the start of your career compared to the end.