You may not know it. May not always feel like it. You may not have even thought about it, but believe it or not, you're already successful. With all the stress and pressure put on people today to do more, make more, get more, buy more, success can seem awfully remote — something that others enjoy, but that always seems out of reach.
We don't buy it.
Regardless of how many zeroes you have in your bank account, or how many presidential commendations you've racked up, you already are successful, and here's why.
9. You're learning something new every day in the best school of all: life.
Mohandas Gandhi once said that "knowledge gained through experience is far superior and many times more useful than bookish knowledge." To experience the world firsthand for yourself is to develop yourself in ways that simply cannot be replicated in any classroom or on any campus.
By being open to the world, open to seeing things through different perspectives, and allowing ourselves to learn not just from our mistakes, but from our interactions and our successes, we continue to grow. Success never stagnates. It is constantly searching, constantly learning. If you learn just one thing about yourself or gain just one insight into the world every day — and you do — your success is assured.
8. You empower others and don't fear their success.
It takes a high level of maturity and confidence to want to see those around you succeed. When you find your rhythm and you're in your zone, empowering others becomes as natural as breathing.
It also makes you more successful. It develops relationships, increases trust and credibility, and inspires those around you — all things that people will want to build upon with you. As retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Kyle Lamb once said, "You become more powerful when you are empowering others."
Empowering others and celebrating their victories without feeling threatened by them is a sure sign of success.
7. You have a pattern of setting and meeting your goals.
The old proverb rings true every time: nothing succeeds like success. When we set realistic goals, we set ourselves up to succeed. When we achieve those goals, we can then build on them and use them as starting points for our next goal. When we fuel our victories with victories, our setbacks don't become failures. They become learning experiences, victories of their own kind, because they allow us to gain perspective and insight. Setbacks become easier to bounce back from. When we set and meet goals, success almost seems to create itself. You're already reading this from a place that you created. That's success.
Now set your next goal.
6. You don't quit.
Everyone who has ever undertook something tough, something new, or something risky has wanted to quit at some point or another. Wanting to quit is natural, especially when things look dark and you feel like you're out on a limb by yourself. Think hard about what you're doing with your life right now. Ever want to quit any of the things you care about just because they were hard? Sure. But you don't. You don't quit because you know that at the end of the day, your family, your loved ones, your work, your passions, your oath — whatever it is that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning — is worth it.
Success isn't sitting on your laurels. It's finding the fire in your belly to give your best when you're tired and afraid and feeling weak. That's real strength. That's success.
5. You have things in your life you're passionate about... and you pursue them.
Whether it's your spouse, your kids, your art, your hobbies, a sport, you've got something that you're passionate about. Just having something that you care deeply about is a kind of success in and of itself, because that's something that you'll always be able to find joy and strength from.
Sometimes we can turn our passions into our careers. Other times, our passions make what we do in our careers worthwhile. Regardless of how they interact with our chosen professions, passions deliver meaning, joy, and satisfaction to our lives. And that's the core of success.
4. You have people who love and support you... no matter what.
There are people in your life right now who don't care what degree you hang on your wall, how much your paycheck is, or what kind of car you drive. The people who love you — who really love you — are the ones who know that your net worth to them has nothing to do with money. It's who you are, the kind of character you have.
Muscles atrophy. Glory fades. Medals tarnish. Those things don't last. The people who we allow into our lives will outlast even the greatest triumph and will be there to keep us hanging on through our biggest disappointments.
What's the greatest success of all? Having someone to love and having someone who loves you.
3. You don't worry about what people think.
You know that you have no control over what people say or think about you. You don't spend your time defending yourself against people who say your goals are impossible, you just go out and prove them wrong. When you stop worrying about what people think, you find a kind of freedom that some people never enjoy: the freedom to pursue what makes you happy.
If people want to talk and gossip and be toxic, that's their choice. It's your choice to do something else. It's your choice to succeed where other people only talk.
2. You're in charge of your life: it's not something that just happens to you.
There are people who go through their entire lives imagining that they are completely at the mercy of the universe. Life is something that just happens to them. They assume no responsibility. They blame others for their unhappiness or shortcomings. They exert all of their energy coming up with excuses.
Not you. You live your life like a boss.
Things go wrong. You know that. But you make the best of it. You have learned to love the storms because they test you, because they show you how strong you are, because they always bring change. They always push you forward because you don't let yourself drown.
Struggle is a part of success. To exult in it, to embrace it, to hold fast when things are at their worst and then to be able to get back up when you've been knocked down... that is success.
That's what you're made of. That's what you are.
1. You're happy.
That's the only real success. If you're happy, you're successful. Period.
Join Strayer University in the Readdress Success Movement to change Merriam-Webster's definition of success! For every signature, Strayer University will donate 50 cents to Dress For Success!
Cover images via Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images and Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images.