How Do You Evaluate Success?

When Katie was prepping for her interview for her suave, new London job, I threw this question at her.

“How do you evaluate success?” She looked at me blankly, her perfect, crafted answers dropping back down her throat. “Um…”

“How do you know you’re successful?”

Together we modelled a perfect interview answer, saying that most people see success as relative to money, but Katie (and I) saw it as coming back from a day, and feeling like you have worked hard on something and that you’re a part of something.

Okay. So, if that is how we see success, can you be successful by yourself? Does success evolve from being a part of a group?

Of course, you can be successful by yourself, there are so many examples of success we can point to, if we evaluate success in comparison to wealth or general standard of living.

But this is not what I am interested in. I know many of you reading will immediately suggest that success comes from happiness. Am I happy?

But naturally, happiness cannot be physically measured, so can we even ask the question “how do you evaluate success?”

Today, I feel successful. I woke up feeling energised, I woke up excited for my day. I made a very student lunch (chicken steak and barbecue sandwich), helped myself to a black coffee. I took it to my room, and read a play that I will be directing for an assessment. 

I went to two lectures, and on the way home, I recorded an 8 minute long voice recording to my sister, rambling about how grateful I feel. Since I have been singing loudly to music, and annoying my flatmates.

If we look at this, what is it about this that made me feel successful? 

Perhaps if we look at this objectively, my basic needs are satisfied; I am fed, watered and I slept very well. I gained academic satisfaction through my tuition, and the content interested me incredibly. I was engaged, and perhaps, I feel a part of a wider community.

If we look a little deeper, I feel successful because I have been making my own healthy food (minus said chicken sandwich) for a month now. My flatmate said I was “thriving”, and I asked him “that means I’m doing well right?”. I have proven to myself I can fuel my body and my strength without depending on anyone else.

I have started to regularly go to the gym, and it has only powered my fierce independence. I feel stronger in my body and mind. 

But also, from this snippet of my day, I have been getting my work done. I am currently on top of things, and I don’t know why I’m surprised by that.

But ultimately. I deem my success because I have someone to send an 8-minute recording of my day to. When I was waiting for my life to start, I was afraid that I would somehow fall out of the world or something, I wouldn’t cope; see exhibit A where Evee falls flat on her face.

But here I am doing it, and I think success is a mixture of achieving your goals, feeling grateful, but ultimately having people around you who love and support you. You can still be successful when it’s the last thing you feel, if you have love around you. 

It has been a long time coming, but I think I finally recognise that Katie and I are in a successful period of our lives.

How do you evaluate success?


Sister Reunion
Taken on the iPhone 7+
Smiles all around
Taken on the Nikon Coolpix P900
Katie being suave
Taken on the Nikon Coolpix P900

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19 thoughts on “How Do You Evaluate Success?

  1. Personally, the great days in life (friends, fun, learning, adventure and relaxation) would fall under satisfaction and contentment. Success, for me, would be achieving a goal or aim. But we’re all beautifully different!

  2. Great point, and lovely pics too, by the way. OK, so the way I see it, the point of life is to be a defect human being, to like myself and to be happy with who I am. I’ve never really called that ‘success’ per se as that’s more happiness, to me. But I suppose that’s all happiness is, isn’t it? Living successfully. So great to see that both of you are blossoming. Maybe one of the greats gifts you have received from what you’ve been through is the ability to appreciate normal day to day existence so much more than those who have haven’t had theirs so dramatically disturbed. Enjoy it.

  3. Your so right about success. I remember a guy I went to uni with. He shut himself off from the social life and just worked. He ended up with a First. After the results came out I shock his hand and told him that he should be so proud of himself. He just looked at me and said – I’d swap it for your 2:1, coming top doesn’t mean your happy Im not sure it was worth the sacrifices.

  4. I think you best answered the question with those 3 photographs.

    if you can take a picture of yourself, or someone else takes one of you, and you are smiling like you both are then THAT is my ultimate measure of how successful you are (or I would be if i had those smiles).

    Given what you have both had to endure the past years those smiles and the happiness of being in that moment they display to the world is proof positive that you are very successful.

    Clearly, your mum was very successful at raising her daughters also. She deserves much of the ‘credit’. 🙂

    As for me, i’m a very literal, logical kind of bloke. To me success relates to achievement of a goal or aim. It applies to far more than just the usual wealth, job, income issues though.

    Different people have different goals and aims; for some simply making it through the day alive or sober is a successful day. Any day you can hug your kids could be a successful day, captaining a crewed yacht to a win in a race might be success for some. and so on. Coming through an emotionally exhausting experience or stage of life and restarting a ‘normal’ life would be a very successful thing to achieve. As would building up personal resilience to whatever life throws up at us and knowing that we can come out the other side better than when we went in.

    Personally, If i can take a nice picture of a beautiful flower, bird, sunset, insect or astronomic object and share it with a few other humans who ‘get’ it that is a very successful day… but i have low aspirations! 😉

    I should probably work on that one day? I’ll think about it some.

    You’ve both earned your successful period. I hope it lasts for a very long time and you enjoy as much of it as ispossible. 🙂

  5. Ummmm… quick question:

    Did you know that there is no comment box when i open ‘Life After Death’ and read it?

    If it is intentional, that’s fine. 🙂

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