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  • Tina Smith

What does success mean to you?

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

What is success? Success means different things to different people.

The definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Therefore it depends what your aim or purpose is as to whether you achieve success or not.

To many people success is measured by the acquiring of material possessions, money, or the status you achieve in your career. Whilst these things are nice to have and there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting those things, do they make you happy? Do they give you a sense of fulfilment?

Social media has a large part to play in how people measure success these days. Our favourite social sites are full of posters and influencers whose content dictates to others what is deemed to be successful and the success they seemingly have. They are, however, often not what they seem...many are portraying a life they do not lead. This can affect the audience of these posts and the poster/influencer themselves, as discussed in this article on the Psychology Today site:

Social media can affect users’ self-esteem, confidence, and mental health. Research has also shown that social comparisons are cognitively inefficient and require a lot of mental resources to process. Those who are solely focused on social comparisons can experience detrimental effects, including decreased appearance satisfaction, low self-evaluations, higher negative mood, insecurity, and anxiety. Since social media influencers’ whole lives and careers are invested in social media, many experience these negative effects.

Additionally, consumers of social media often engage in upward social comparisons that can negatively impact mental health. This is especially true for influencers, as they constantly look up to, and compare themselves with, other high-status influencers.

Social Media Affects Influencers' Mental Health

This can also lead the audience to feel resentful and jealous of the posters lifestyle and to feel inadequate about their own life, or lack of accomplishment, as they see it. We have all compared ourselves to others, it's only human nature to, but what are we actually comparing ourselves to in this situation? Sometimes just a fantasy life, and a stranger's fantasy life at that. Take some time to get perspective on the situation and understand that the person you look up to might not actually be living that lifestyle at all, or be that rich, or be that slim. The camera actually does lie, a lot! Focus instead on what you want to achieve in your life, or what you already have achieved. If you can turn this around you will feel more fulfilled and satisfied with your successes, instead of being envious of others' successes.

So, what do you consider to be success? Traditionally we are taught that to be successful you have to be ambitious and work hard but that might just seem to fit in with the whole acquiring money and possessions way of thinking. If you are an aspiring athlete then working hard and being ambitious can indeed work for you and might mean the difference between competing in the Olympics or watching it on TV.

Not all successes come from hard work or ambition though. Some successes can be quite small but still make you very happy or fulfilled. For some people success can be something other people would deem everyday and ordinary, such as being able to leave the house or even communicating with strangers. Some people might want to learn to ride a bike or learn to swim, play and instrument or learn another language. Some might want to change their outlook on life: become more mindful. So we all have a different way to measure success.

I grew up through my teenage years and attended secondary school, in the 80s. This was a time of yuppies, power dressing and paving the way for girl power. Women were ambitious and taking over in all walks of life, including leading the government. I, however, only ever wanted to be a Mum. It wasn't the done thing then to only aspire to be what some people considered to be a 50s style housewife, women were supposed to want everything, often putting off motherhood in favour of a great career. I kept my ambition to myself when asked what I wanted to be, for that reason. Fortunately I was successful in my ambition, I had 3 children. I might not have looked successful to some people: we didn't have many foreign holidays or a new fancy car like other families did, but I felt successful, I felt happy and fulfilled (well most of the time anyway!)

Personally, I think that life is too short to take on someone else's idea of what success means, to aspire to what others' aspire to, just because they dictate that or post it on social media.

To me success is when you achieve YOUR goals and aims, things that make YOU happy and fulfilled.

Do you follow the crowd or follow your heart?

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