The Personal Essence of Success: Charting Your Unique Journey

The concept of success is intriguingly elusive. In our career-centric world, we often find ourselves confronted with society’s mold of what success should look like. But each of us carries our unique blueprint of aspirations, dreams, and values that shape our understanding of what truly constitutes a triumphant life.

Throughout my career, I’ve frequently encountered opinions about how my professional choices would dictate my ‘success’ or lack thereof. It seems everyone has a perspective on what the correct path should be and how deviations from that path might signify a missed opportunity or potential unfulfilled.

And it’s not just me…

Many of us have come across such unsolicited career advice. From your previous supervisor: “Leaving the world of academia for the industry? That’s a waste of potential. He could’ve been so successful in academia!” From your boss: “She’s expecting a child? Such a shame. She had the makings of a successful career ahead!” From a colleague: “Choosing to work part-time to be with family? It’s his decision, but it’ll undoubtedly hinder his success.” From someone from the Management Team: “With her disdain for office politics, she’s not going to taste the same success as if she’d just toe the line.”

Here’s the catch: While the dictionary may offer a standardized definition for “success” (namely, achieving a particular goal or objective), it doesn’t encapsulate its subjective nature. Different people measure success by diverse yardsticks, such as:

πŸ’‘ Attaining a high-ranking position,

πŸ’‘ Amassing considerable wealth or a significant income,

πŸ’‘ Garnering awards or accolades,

πŸ’‘ Making a tangible societal impact,

πŸ’‘ Achieving a desired work-life balance,

πŸ’‘ Building and nurturing a family,

πŸ’‘ Receiving recognition from peers or media,

πŸ’‘ Tackling and overcoming scientific challenges,

πŸ’‘ Experiencing a constant learning curve,

πŸ’‘ Contributing to knowledge transfer, etc.


For me, “success” embodies more than just professional accomplishments. It’s about helping others, maintaining health, balancing work and personal life, and having sufficient means to explore the world, support my loved ones, and not get overly anxious about financial crises. It’s a holistic concept that motivates me to find contentment in every aspect of life.

At its core, the idea of a “successful” career is deeply personal. Everyone sees success in their own way, and it’s important to trust your feelings about what’s right for you. While others might have strong opinions, it’s essential to make choices that feel true to who you are. As we grow and learn from life, our idea of success can change. Shifting career goals over the years or decades isn’t something to worry about; it’s just a sign that we’re evolving and adjusting to new experiences.

What does ‘success’ mean to you?

Remember, it’s your journey, and you get to set the milestones.


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