How has your view of what ‘success’ looks/feels like changed over time? What or who has contributed to this throughout your personal, professional, or academic journey?

Haley Rietman, Program Assistant, The Learning Center


Success for me has not been something that is easily defined. When I was younger, I thought success was one thing- good grades in school. It has now changed to mean a multitude of things. When looking at this prompt, the first thought that came to mind is that the definition of success is individualized. To further my point- I asked three of my biggest mentors what success means to them off the top of their heads; these are the answers I received:


“Success can be very different for people… for me, success is a well lived life with loving relationships, and working to live not living to work. I do believe however, that with success it is important to work and be self-sufficient.”


“Success is when you have loved deeply and are committed to jobs or projects that are satisfying to you while also giving back to others”


“Success is doing ones best at what whatever one chooses to do in life, while negotiating with win/win outcomes in mind, while ultimately trying to make the world a better place, even if incrementally so. Success is enjoying the journey while maintaining the ethos of love, kindness and helping fellow humans.”



As you can see from even just my small sample of people, there is no one definition of success. Of course, the dictionary states that success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” However, everyone’s aim or purpose is going to be different. I now think of success as an all-encompassing measure. Sure, one may have a 4.0 in their university courses however, if they are unhappy is this really where they would like to be? Or maybe one is happy with their current life but has no goals or intended outcome for their future. This leaves one with no opportunity for success.

I see success as a comprehensive measure of balance and realizing that there is constantly room for improvement. Success is infinite and one should always be striving to be more successful no matter how small these improvements may be. Growth is a huge part of my definition of success and with each year, or even day, my definition gets more distant from my original thought that success can only be reached by the highest of achievers in their academics.

I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing that has contributed to my own definition of success and even if I could, I don’t know that I would share it. It is important that one finds their own definition of success through life experiences, mentors, peers, academics, and passions.  All of these influences are developing my definition of success and I know as I continue to grow in my career and personal development, this definition will continue to be ever changing.