Money Questions: What's Our Personal Definition of Success?

Daily Origami is a way for us to record our off the cuff thoughts, feelings and observations about the world around us. Published every weekday, Monday through Friday.

What is your personal definition of success,
and do you consider yourself successful?


I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Recently, I had talked about growing complacent and aimlessly wandering, without any real goals. 

Planning to travel the world.

For me, the definition of success changes, depending on where I’m at in my life. And I think it should be fluid because nothing lasts. There are always new challenges to conquer.

If you had asked me four years ago, what did I consider success? I would have said that a well-paying full-time job and being independent of my family. 

Now? It’s about leveling up and living my life for myself. Specifically, I want to:

  • Finish my first (and only) half-marathon next year. 
  • Be able to generate revenue while I’m traveling abroad with Ivan in 2018 and 2019.
  • Travel to at least 50 countries by the time I’m in my mid-30s. So far, I’ve only been to eight countries in my entire life. 

Success doesn’t happen overnight. And the definition of success changes with who you are and what you’ve accomplished. The way I see it, today’s successes are tomorrow’s stepping stones. In the end, life is about the pursuit and journey, not necessarily the end result. 


There’s a line from Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited that has stuck with me ever since:

“My work had nothing to recommend it except my growing technical skill, enthusiasm for my subject, and independence of popular notions.” 

The third point is important. Independence of popular notions. While I can empathize with the impulse to value something based on how popular it is, I can’t bring myself to respect it. It tells me that person has no idea what he/she values or wants. 

Success to me means carving out a piece of the world for myself, doing exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it, and as much as possible, hanging out with people I want to hang out with. Fame and fortune are totally unnecessary. I can think of more ways that could sabotage me than it would add value to my life. 

That being said, I’d be sad if after years of work, doing whatever was necessary, I didn’t pick up at least a modest following. This would mean I was never cut out to work on the things I liked, that I wasn't as good as I thought I was.