3 Measures of Success We Often Overlook

By Amy Taylor on March 26, 2014

When you hear the word “success”, what usually comes in your mind? If you’re like most people, you probably would think of a beautiful house, a fleet of stylish cars, expensive dinners, and a well-established career. Success is often associated with money and other earthly possessions. If by the age of 40 you still don’t have a house or a car, or huge savings in the bank, people would say you are not successful.

But decades of research tells us that fortune and power are not the real measures of success. So if not, what then?

How much you’ve learned.

Success is not about how your original plan has worked or whether things are going “as expected”. It is all about learning. It’s all about the knowledge, wisdom and experiences you’ve had. Maybe the reason why we call leaders successful is because they are often the people who have the experience and expertise in their field. Successful people prioritise education among other things. They work hard to understand and master their craft. By constantly increasing their knowledge base, they become more capable of addressing problems as they arise and coping with changes. So the next time you want to evaluate your progress, put aside the metrics and accomplishments you’ve got, but focus on how much you have learned. Then ask yourself – What do you know that you didn’t before? What do you still need to find out?

How many times you have failed.

All successful people know that it doesn’t come easy, and that they are bound to fail more than they will succeed. Failures promote success in many ways. First, it offers opportunities for learning. When you fail, you ask yourself why? To answer this, you then go back to the steps you have taken to try achieving your goal and determine what have possibly went wrong. And here is where new solutions come. In most cases however, when we make mistakes, we often find it upsetting and often blame ourselves, thinking that we’re a mediocre. We usually take failures negatively that we miss out on the main purpose of failing: the chance to get over our egos and come back stronger and smarter.

How happy you are.

You may have all the money in this world but that doesn’t mean you are also the happiest person. Money doesn’t buy happiness, that’s what research says. Truly successful people understand that while money is important, it is not the real measure of their success. It is happiness rather. A review of 225 studies published in the Psychological Bulletin journal found that happiness doesn’t necessarily follow success. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Happiness leads to success. There are plenty of reasons for this. Experts say that happy people tend to be successful because they frequently experience positive moods. And these positive moods prompt them to be more likely to work actively toward new goals and build new resources. This doesn’t mean however that happy people are always successful. Part of success involves experiencing painful emotions in response to difficult and painful life circumstances as difficulties make us resilient.

Success is not about our accomplishments. It’s about how much we have learned, how many times we have failed and how happy we become after all. 

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