Figuring Out What Success Really Means to You Most of us want to be successful. Do you? Then find out how to determine what your definition of success really is.

By Debbie Allen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Hero Images | Getty Images

The following excerpt is from Debbie Allen's book Success Is Easy. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound

The number-one reason most people don't succeed is that they don't take the time to define what they want. One of the most important things for you is to know exactly what you want. What does success look like or feel like to you? If you don't know, you attract confusion.

I can tell you one thing: Success isn't what others tell you it is. It's what you say it is for yourself! If you believe success is what everyone else says it is, you'll always miss the target. And when you do achieve someone else's version of success, it won't mean as much to you.

Related: 5 No-Nonsense Action Steps to Help You Achieve Success

Succeeding requires giving up other people's beliefs around success. Forget about what other people think about success and stop comparing yourself to them. Some people think success is defined as having tons of money, fame and fortune. The reality is that success is defined in many ways, but it must come from within to motivate true success on your terms. By understanding and valuing who you are and why you desire success, it's easier to tap into your true value by becoming more aware of your strengths, skills and existing knowledge.

Defining your own success means knowing why you want it. For example, when you say, "I want success!" what do you really want?

You may believe success is defined by money, fame, happiness, material items, etc. But success does not come with a one-size-fits-all label. Success must be defined by your own labels.

The meaning of success is different for each person. You may not fit into other people's definition of success, but you can give yourself permission to be OK with that. Success is an individual concept. Here's the exciting part: You get to define and design your own success, which will become the blueprint for you to follow throughout your life. Developing your own success blueprint also means that you get to create success on your own terms.

Related: The 7 Strengths and Habits That Successful People Possess

Three steps to define success

Although definitions of success are subjective, the process of defining it is quite objective. Here are three steps to directing yourself toward success.

Step 1: Discover why success is important to you

To discover why success is important to you, take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions in as much detail as possible:

  • Is your success defined with professional achievements, per­sonal happiness and/or financial freedom?
  • How will achieving more success make you feel? (For example: more confident, more empowered, fearless, etc.)
  • After achieving more success, how will your life be different than it is right now? Would you live in a different city, have a completely different career, take more vacations, etc.?

Step 2: Uncover your drive to move past obstacles

Achieving more success requires you to become more driven and persistent when challenges and obstacles get in the way. As obstacles arise, you must take full responsibility to stay on course. Ask yourself:

  • What obstacles prevent you from achieving success?
  • How will removing these obstacles help you move forward to achieving a higher level of success?
  • How can you then hold yourself accountable for staying on course to achieving the desired level of success?
  • What action steps have you avoided in the past that could have helped you achieve more?

Once you define the action steps that are required to achieve more and understand what's holding you back, you can finally begin to make big strides as you remain in action.

Related: Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Millionaire?

Step 3: Start by taking the first step

Too many people want to start a business but postpone the decision while looking for the perfect business idea that will make millions. Often the only reason many don't take action on their planned goals and dreams is lack of confidence in their abilities. The only solution to this problem is to start.

It doesn't matter if you know how to succeed at something or how to achieve your goals. You don't need to figure it all out before you start. I'm a strong believer in the idea that anyone can become successful at just about anything — when they set their mind to it and get started. Even if you take the wrong step, readjust, step in a new direction and start again. Consider the following questions:

  • What could you start doing tomorrow if you knew you couldn't fail?
  • If the lack of knowledge weren't holding you back, what would you step into tomorrow?
  • If there were no fear or doubt holding you back, what bold action steps could you take to achieve more success?
  • If you were told you couldn't stop until you achieved your goal, what big goal would you reach for?

What if you had a guide with you every day who told you that you couldn't quit no matter what? Would you achieve more? Of course you would! So, as your guide today, I ask you, What goal would you achieve if you knew you couldn't quit?

Debbie Allen

Speaker, Business Mentor & Author

Debbie Allen’s decades of entrepreneurial wisdom and business building experience have allowed her to successfully mentor a diverse group of small business owners, entreprenuers and franchise owners in growing their companies.  Her years of expertise comes from building and selling numerous highly successful companies of her own since the age of 19. 

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


Get a New 4K Camera Drone for More Than Half Off

Saving $99 is a perfect excuse to finally buy a drone for yourself or as a gift.

Data & Recovery

Save $899 on This Guest Wi-Fi Solution That Offers You Plenty of Perks

Get marketing info while offering Wi-Fi to guests and customers with this tool, now $599.99 for life.


5 Ways SEO Can Help Grow a Mom & Pop Business

From tweaking your Google Business Profile to creating Instagram-able "selfie spaces," how small companies can boost search rankings just like the heavy hitters.

Business News

An Hermès Heir Wants to Give Half His $12 Billion Fortune to His Gardener—and Lawyers Are Going Nuts

Nicolas Puech, the grandson of Hermès' founder, intends to legally adopt the 51-year-old former groundskeeper as his son, ensuring he inherits his billions.

Business News

Actors From 'Lord of the Rings,' 'Breaking Bad' and More Were Tricked Into Creating Anti-Ukraine Messages on Cameo

The Microsoft Threat Analysis Center reports that pro-Russian propagandists used the popular platform Cameo to make celebrity videos that appear to be attacking Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.