What is success?


Perhaps it’s a million dollar question. What is success to you? Have you defined what it is, how you will know when you get there? I know I certainly haven’t: my goal posts are continuously moving.

I honestly don’t know what success means to me.

I have returned to this question lots over the last few weeks. I think this stems from the fact it’s been a big period of transition for me – after studying for years for a job that wasn’t for me, a career change – coinciding with returning from a great holiday, and a few nights alone with time to think (hiding from the cold!), for once there has been time to sit back and reflect.

I think the penny dropped tonight when I broke my newfound homebody nature (again, I suspect this is cold/rain related!) and headed to a session at General Assembly on the business of being a food blogger.

While I love food, I’m no food blogger! I have dabbled in a little guest lifestyle blogging, and was interested to learn more from the people that make food photos an art. Turns out, there was lots of common learnings between life as a food blogger and life as a career blogger (if there is such a thing!).

Surrounded by food bloggers, and people trying desperately to break into the scene, everything started to make a little more sense.

After some great presentations, some people started quizzing the bloggers on their success: how they knew when they were “influential”? How many followers did they have when they started getting PR invites?… And so on. And interestingly, all of the bloggers agreed:

  • they don’t do it for the money (or lack thereof!);
  • it’s not all about how many followers you have on Instagram (or perhaps how many unique hits your site gets a month); and
  • there is no way you could do it without passion.

Ashley, superstar Melbourne food blogger of I’m So Hungree, even advised all the budding bloggers that you can only do it if you love it… and you jump out of bed in the morning excited because you really, really freaking love it.

So maybe working out what success is isn’t so hard.

Success is so insanely personal – perhaps so much so that if you are judging your success by other people’s standards, you will never find out what it truly means to you.

So I’m going to stop sitting on the couch late at night freaking out about whether or not I’ve been successful.

I don’t need millions of people following me on social media. I’m comfortable with my blog stats (careers will never be as sexy as delicious food, after all!). I don’t need people stopping me on the street.

On the flip side, I’ve had the guts to follow my passion. People from around the world have shared their career story with me because something I’ve said resonated with them. Every now and then I get invited out for coffee with someone who stumbles across my blog, and I am seriously over the moon.

So, what have I learned?

Measure your own success, and don’t let self-doubt hold you back.

And finally, stop putting so much pressure on yourself to measure your success on everyone else’s scale. Life is a hell of a lot more than how much you get paid, who you work for and how many people follow you on Instagram.

You know what? Life’s pretty good. And that’s what success is.



PS. As I was finishing this post, Seth Godin’s nightly email blog popped up. It was talking about how almost everything that we read is all about “how”. How to write better, how to get people to like you, how to be more productive… you get the picture. Less common, Seth muses, is the “why?”. He continues:

And rarest of all, yet ironically the most important, is help and insight about getting to the core of the fear that is holding us back.

This felt like an appropriate note to finish this post on. Chase your own success fearlessly, friends! If you want to read the full post, check it out here.


PPS. I am very excited to announce I have almost finished my first eBook! Keep an eye out for it in the next few weeks… I’m almost finished writing it, I just need to learn how to make it look pretty and at least moderately professional. This will be a big tick on my personal success list! As I told my boss yesterday, I think in words, not pictures. Please be patient!