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What is success?

Mads Brodt • December, 2021

3 min read

Today I'd like to reflect on the meaning of "success", and why it's important to find your own definition rather than chase some arbitrary or society-defined versions. In a tweet, this is how I view the idea of succes:

Remember: success is what you make it. You don't need to create the next Facebook or make billions of dollars to be successful. If you can wake up every day, do something you enjoy, and have enough money to sustain your lifestyle - I'd consider you successful.

​However, it seems that many people link success purely to a financial outcome. Like if you don't land that $200k /year salary, you're not a successful developer. Or if you don't sell your startup for millions of dollars, you're not a successful entrepreneur.

Of course there's nothing wrong with being ambitious, and chasing goals like this can be a great motivator. But I also think it can be dangerous if you neglect other parts of your life "just" to achieve some level of success that you might not even have thought about; you're just chasing it because that's how society generally measures success (financially).

In this day and age, the internet enables so many alternate lifestyles that simply weren't possible 10+ years ago. You can now work remotely / part time / as a freelancer, and find lots of happiness in your life outside of work. That's why I think it's important to critically evaluate what you mean when you tell yourself that you want to be successful. If you decide that what you want most in life is to create a billion dollar company - more power to you. As long as it's an active decision you make based on reflection and your personal values.

For me personally, as I said in the tweet, success is waking up excited every day (or most days) to work on or do something I enjoy. If I can do that while also earning enough money to sustain my lifestyle / family etc., that's good enough for me. That doesn't mean I don't want to be wealthy, or earn more money. It just means I don't want those things more than I want to be happy - and I don't think I need them to be happy in the first place.

In the end, your definition of success should, in my opinion, be entirely dependent on living the kind of life you want to live.

Whatever that looks like ✌

I'm Mads Brodt — a developer, author, teacher, creator and blogger. To keep up with all of my writing, follow me on Twitter or sign up with your email above 👆

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