How to Tell You're Successful if You Don't Feel Successful

Kris Leigh Townsend, LMFT
Posted by

Back in the day, the formula to success was pretty clear. You got a good, steady job making good, steady money. Boom. You were successful. It was simple.

The problem with that formula is that there’s always more success to gain. There’s no way to know how much success is enough success. With no ceiling, there’s always more to reach for after your achievement reaches status quo. What this really seems to do, more than anything else, is create anxiety about what the next step in life is.

Because of the embedded flaw in this system, people are coming to the conclusion that success is a more well-rounded endeavor than reaching your career goals and buying unnecessary stuff. Today, it also means seeking new experiences, being emotionally intelligent and cultivating happiness.

Somehow, though, even though we know better than to think how successful we are equates to how much stuff we have, we still get stuck in comparing our accolades with others. From the way were raised, our subconscious is tethered to the old generational way of thinking. And with a modern twist too, considering we can literally compare ourselves to anyone any moment on social media.

It’s time to break the unhealthy monetary-driven way of thinking about success and look at what actually makes a successful person as a whole.

You have improved your relationships
One of the top predictors of happiness, health and overall well-being is the quality of relationships. A Harvard review compiling over 80 years of studies says, “people’s level of satisfaction with their relationships at age 50 was a better predictor of physical health than their cholesterol levels were.”

You are generous to others
Berkley happiness research says, “the reward system in your brain is activated when you give to others.”  People who make strong social connections through giving are happier. People who only focus on achieving personal success tend to be lonelier.

You are open to failure
Every failure is an opportunity for growth. Having a growth mindset allows you to accept room for creativity so you can expand. When you’re stuck in black and white thinking and perfectionism you’re more likely to run into mental health issues.

You have learned to set boundaries
Clear boundaries are essential to life success. Boundaries are limits that we set for ourselves that respect our needs, as well as, are compassionate towards the needs of others. It is the balance between rigidity and flexibility.

Think of good boundaries like a tree. You are rooted down into one place, certain of where you stand, but you allow your branches to be flexible and move with the wind. Boundaries help improve your relationship with yourself, others and difficult life circumstances.

You need less external validation
It can be difficult not to compare yourself to others when you can see what everyone is doing in an instant. When you, instead, learn to rely on your own intuition and applaud for yourself, you quickly become more successful. Remember, success is how you define it. What’s right for you might not be what everyone else is doing.

You are kind to your body
There are three human essentials; exercise, sleep and eat well. These are things you probably weren’t conscious of in your teens but at least make an effort to do now. You know you’ve become more successful when you are paying attention to your physical and mental wellbeing.

You have become more self-aware
We all came from somewhere and picked up some bad habits from our surroundings. It’s a vital part of our humanhood that we continuously become more aware and emotionally intelligent as people so we can change those patterns for future generations. We are innately driven towards progression.

When you create deeper self-knowing, you become more accepting of both yourself and of others. And that… that is success.

You seek new experiences
You are an eternal student. You are motivated to learn. You focus on process over product. You focus on practice over result. Continuously inviting opportunities to learn and live life fully is a sign of a successful person.

You show gratitude
One way to back down from the ever-inclining search for success is the practice of gratitude. It’s linked to higher mood and greater well-being. Gratitude is the simple, yet powerful, practice of being thankful and appreciative for what you already have. When you are able to be present and thankful for what you have, there is no need for more. With gratitude, you will be eternally successful.


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch