I talk a lot about goals, and what bigger goal is there than being successful? So I would be willing to guess that whatever your Other 40 is, you want to find success in it. But how can you know you are a success if you don’t know what success means? Success is one of those words that can be really hard to define. If you’re thinking “I know what success is,” then take a moment and think of your definition. Okay, do you have it? Hmm not as easy as you thought. Merriam-Webster defines success as: favorable or desired outcome. But how I interpret that and how you interpret that may be different. Success for me and success for you may not mean the same thing.

Defining Success

The question you need to ask yourself is: “what do I want to happen as a result of the work I do?” or, “what would I need to achieve in my business/life/service/etc. that will make me happy?” Whatever your answer to those questions is your definition of success. For some it may be becoming wealthy, while for others it may be being able to pay for groceries with the money from their side business. For some success may not have anything to do with money. If I make videos maybe success for me would be to get a million views on every video that I post. Two different people could do the same thing and get the same results, and one person might feel like they achieved success, and the the other not. You need to look inside yourself, realize that success is personal. You need to know what it is for you.

You have to continuously update your definition

Your definition of success will change, or at least should change as you do. There are levels to success. Every level of success should represent a new goal or challenge. Maybe a couple year ago success for you was making $800 a year from your side business. As your skills and experience increase, things change, and $800 a year may feel more like a failure than a success. As you achieve success you have to redefine it because what you call success one day may just be average the next. You always want to be shooting for something. Knowing what success is helps you plan on ways that you can be a success. If you are driving with no direction then chances are you are just spinning in circles.

There are levels to success

Real world example of levels of success

Sometimes campaigns on Kickstarter have aspirations called stretch goals. If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is a crowd funding site where people go to raise money for different projects and inventions, anything from games to new products. Consumers can pledge money at different levels, each level having different incentives. In May of 2015, a video game creator launched a Kickstarter. He had secured the funds to make a game but the investors wanted to make sure people would be interested in the game. So in order for them to invest, he first needed to raise $500,000. A few of the levels  of incentives for pledges he set were a digital copy of the game if you pledged $28 or more, or a special edition physical copy if you pledged over $60.

On Kickstarter you get 30 days to reach your goal. Reaching your goal is the success, so in this case raising $500,000 in 30 days would be success. It only took a day for him to get the pledges he needed, so the project was already a success on the second day. So that was level 1 success for him. On the page he added an image with different levels and if he reached the level he would add something else to the game. So after the initial $500,000 he added levels starting at $600,000 all the way to $5,500,000. Each one he hit was a different level of success in that project. By the time the campaign ended he had over 10 times what his initial goal was and ended with $5,545,991 in pledges.

As he achieved more and reached new levels of success, the goal evolved. Along with those goal changes came different levels of success that built on what he had done previously. Once he reached his goal in a day, the perspective of success changed. If the campaign went by after that and he only managed $600,000 over the 30 days, it wouldn’t have been the same. Expectations help inform success. As they change for better or worse, you need to adjust what success is for you.


Remember to enjoy the journey. Just like a road trip, things happen that can change your direction. Your definition or success may change or be redefined and that’s okay, just make sure you keep track of what it changes to. Always know what you are shooting for. Figure out what success is for you and go get it. You got this!

If you’re interested in seeing the Kickstarter campaign mentioned in this article, click here.