What is success?

I have been mulling over this question for a while and I have a feeling that the answer certainly varies from country to country and of course from person to person. When I lived in England for some people the outward signs of success were very important –  for example a big house or a dream car. I am not sure that enjoying your job was very high up there. But for many the financial crisis changed this. You read a lot about how losing your job, or the fear of losing your job, really affects how people feel about those outward signs of success and makes people concentrate more on other aspects.

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The idea of success has come to the fore this last week as I am planning to attend my  school’s centenary celebrations and many people, although they are making a joke of it, fear that others will judge their level of success or lack of it. Have they realised their potential from when they were 18? Each person assumes the others will have the same definition of success as they do or that anyone will really care about it all.

I see myself as having a (relatively) successful life. I reached my educational goals, I built a career in my twenties, I survived and enjoyed the challenge of relocating to two countries in my thirties, I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful little boy, a comfortable home, I am (generally) happy with how I look and I have the chance to create my own future. 

I wanted to talk about what I, now at almost 40, see as success and to do so I will use a few examples of women I know personally that I admire and see as successes.

I admire people who have made something for themselves from nothing. Who wanted to do something they enjoyed as a job and made this their success through hard work, being authentic and following a dream. Whether that was a book deal or working as a foster mum.

I met Anne Faber back in 2012 and she was writing a food blog. We met at a blogging conference to learn more about how to make blogs a success. Fast forward to 2014 and Anne is in production with her second cooking TV series and has a best selling cookbook under her belt.

Mariam Mistry left a comfortable job in advertising to pursue her dream of running a cupcake shop. What started slowly is now a super popular cafe and cake shop in the centre of Copenhagen and all that is down to Mariam’s hard work and vision. She works with many of the major brands in Copenhagen and is the go to place for wonderfully beautiful and delicious cupcakes. She has a recipe featured in the recent Lakrids cookbook and in 2013 she was named as one of Elle Denmark’s top women to watch. The future looks amazing for her.

Susannah Conway started blogging to deal with the loss of her partner back when blogging wasn’t so fashionable  and started to gain a following of dedicated readers. Her blog was one of the first I started reading. She then started e courses based around self discovery, writing and photography. Women inspired by her photography and her journey took the course and more that followed. Through the hard work on her blog, her photography and course development Susannah is now a published author of two amazing books and another in the pipeline.

I can’t speculate on all the aspects of these women’s lives but they are inspirations to me and show me what success can be. It isn’t about material things, although that is nice, but about hard work that has led to success. There are sacrifices along the way but in the end  all that success comes down to them and no one can take that away.

There are many more examples of women, particularly from the blogging world, who had a dream and plan and went with it. I gain such a lot of support and inspiration from these kinds of people and I hope that my future successes are even a fraction of theirs.

8 thoughts on “What is success?

  1. I love this post and the sentiments behind it. Like you, I’m just about to head into my 40s and I often stop and think about the success I’ve had in my life. Sometimes for people like me who have decided to stay home and raise the kids it’s not always easy to define. But when I look at my three kids who are happy, confident and kind little people I know that that is definitely one of my biggest lifetime successes. And I couldn’t be prouder. And now that they’re all getting older and need me a little less who knows what the future holds…

    • I think being a mum of happy, great children (and I have also really stepped back from work etc for the last four years too) is one of the most important ways of defining success. I love seeing what your kids are up to and I am always so impressed. I also secretly (or maybe not that secretly!) want to be as cool and creative as your daughters!

  2. Ah wow, thanks Melanie, really honoured to be included in this post! It’s interesting to think about success – I have achieved a lot over the past year(s), but somehow still striving to do more and telling myself it’s not enough. That might sound spoilt, but it really comes from a feeling of restlessness and ambition I guess. I hope that it will fade a bit as I get older – at the moment it’s ok, but I also know that it’s important to take a step back from time to time and just enjoy our achievements, without a nagging though (but what about xyz, what next, etc) instantly taking over.
    Anyway, a big thanks for mentioning me here, and for considering me a success 🙂
    PS: Looking forward to catching up in Copenhagen at The Hive this year! x

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  4. Lovely thought provoking post Mel! You should do more of such long posts.

    Success to me is certainly different from what it was a decade ago. It now has less to do with competition and speed and more to do with being creative and pursuing my dreams.

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