Personal Finance – Are you Successful?

Today, lets dive into talking about being successful. Specifically around defining success – What is it?, What defines success? How do you measure success?

How do you define success?

Today, lets dive into talking about being successful. Specifically around defining success – What is it?, What defines success? How do you measure success?

First let’s start with the definition of success – The dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” or “a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity”.

We think that the second definition best meets the needs of what we are discussing today – The accomplishment of an aim or purpose combined with the achievement of desired aims.

What are your desired aims? Who defines success?

So naturally, after we determine that success depends on your desired aims, we must define what a desired aim is and who defines it. When the definition speaks of a desired aim, we must look either internally or externally for aims.

Internal Aim

Some examples of internal aim of success, this would include personal achievements that impact others; strong relationships, supportive friends / spouse, healthy lifestyle, positive outlook on life amongst other internal focused results. Based on our previous posts, it was clear that the optimizer, ostrich and gambler would all have different outlooks or desired internal aims for defining success.

However, what is abundantly clear is that nobody can define your internal aim of success, this will require some reflection, time and effort to review your life, personal relationships within the context of success.

External Aim

If we review the external aim of success, this would include personal achievements like a successful career, lifestyle, living circumstances (cars, housing, comfort). Based on previous posts, it is clear that stealth wealth and fake rich would fit into the external aims of defining success.

Unfortunately, the external definition of success can be wildly impacted by the area of the world in which you live, your neighbours, economic circumstances, career path and trajectory, lifestyle, wealth / status and many other factors.

How do you measure success?

Now that we know about the internal aims and external aims of success, how do we fully define and measure success? Well this is both a very difficult and simple question to respond to. If we take a pure external view of success, then we can bring a pure analytical definition of success.

Can success be purely defined as the accumulation of wealth?

However, if we focus on this simple definition of success, this would then be skewed by either your local neighbourhood, your city, country or area of the world. Where do we stop to define success using this measure – Is $1,000 enough, is $10k or $1M enough or do we have to scale up to the richest people in the world? However, is this current measure of wealth or do we use an all time historic view? This is where the external view of wealth fails miserably in defining success.

Additionally, based on our article about stealth wealth and fake rich, we can see that “fake rich” can be used to project a pretense of wealth; average salaries with extensive spending, Little or No Savings in Accounts, Spending Money Living only for today (YOLO), Borrowing to spend far more than you Earn, Impulse purchases, Extravagant housing, No regard to debt accumulation.

A better definition of success?

A better understanding of success may include a balance of internal aims and external aims – Do you have a successful personal life (relationships), a career or job that you enjoy that pays fairly, enough money to live on and some financial margin to protect you from life’s surprises? In your journey to define what success means for you, consider both the internal (intangible) ways of measuring success as well as the tangible ways of measuring success. Would a strong marriage and loving family be worth more than as sizable bank account? Perhaps for you that is enough and success is achieved! For others, perhaps their family situation is not as clear or dysfunctional and the more external definition of success is the key; focus on accelerating their career, climbing the corporate ladder. While still for others, perhaps a certain dollar value in the bank is the pure definition of success ($100k, $1M, $10M or more).


So we discussed how to measure success; including the internal and external aims of success. What is abundantly clear, although the definition of success may be easy to describe (achieve your goals), the practical or real world application of success is not as clear cut. For instance, someone might focus on the internal aspects of success with very strong relationships and another may be in massive debt with all the trappings of external wealth displayed. Which one is successful? In this case, it goes back to your own personal goals; are you comfortable with a loving family or do you need external validation from others to see yourself as a success?

What are your thoughts – How do you define success? How do you measure success?

Thank you for reading today. Stay safe and healthy.


The Lab Manager

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