How Do You Judge Success?

by Kelly · 9 comments

in Concepts in Frugality

How do you judge success? When can you say that enough is enough, that you’ve accomplished your goal, and that now, you can move onto something else?

These are questions that I’ve been thinking about lately, in several different areas. Of course, sometimes success is easy to judge: you reach your goal weight or emergency fund balance. Other times, success is more difficult to quantify.

In regards to my work, for example, I’ve been trying to figure out how to judge a project’s success. Is it when enough people sales go up, and by a certain percentage? Is it when the Google Analytics tool shows us the results we want? Or could it be just launching several information campaigns, so that people hear and know more about our product? When thinking about blogging success, how should I frame it? Is it through visitor rates? Page views? Or the conversations started and comments left on each post?

Most of all, however, I’ve been thinking about financial security and frugality. I want to figure out what success means to me in these areas. Does it mean being rich (and what’s ‘rich’, after all?). Or maybe it might be having a certain amount of money in an emergency fund. I know that I don’t want my children to worry about money, but how shall I judge that? It’s certainly not by giving them everything they ask for, but it doesn’t mean not sharing our own money worries either.

I think that what being successful financially means to me is having enough money as a cushion to be able to take risks and adventures. For example, I recently attended a talk by an entrepreneur who described the start-up companies he joined in their infancy, or the times when he worked for very little pay on a project he believed in. Without a secure financial base (and I have no idea how much money he earns), taking on such risky projects wouldn’t have been feasible.

I’d like to follow a similar path. I love helping people get started on their projects (some people in my circle of family and friends might refer to it as a love of telling others what to do), and I can see myself working as a consultant in the years to come. But this is only really possible if you have a good financial plan to weather the downs as well as the ups, and I’m not there. Yet.

How do you judge success?


1 Eleanor June 24, 2009

Hi Kelly, I just found this post on Facebook. Maybe it’s because I’m still marinating in corporate culture, but as a reflex now I like to ‘bind my goals with metrics and assumptions’ in other words, I would probably tend to look at success in terms of traffic reports, links, conversion, etc. Having said this, I think there are also just some intangibles that can’t be immediately measured. I tell myself that everything I do plants little seeds that will be valuable or useful to someone down the line, even though I may never know about it and it may not show up on any of my metrics reports!

2 Kika June 24, 2009

Over the past couple years I’ve read TONS of books re: finances from people like Robert Kiyosaki, Dave Ramsey, even Donald Trump – books from very different perspectives. Really delving into their thoughts and all the underlying work and commitments that each person’s philosophy or lifestyle would require, allowed me to sort out where I fit along the spectrum. It helped me decide for myself what “rich” or “success” looks like for my family. My personal picture of success does take finances into consideration but it is not the major factor; money is definitely a useful tool but in and of itself does not make me happy or at peace in my life.

3 Tom June 24, 2009

This topic reminds of the very end of its a Wonderful Life …George Bailey opens up the book and it says “Remeber George no man is a failure who has friends.”It is a cliche to say that the best things in life are free but that doesn’t make it any less true.

4 Kristin June 25, 2009

I used to judge success by salaries, but now judge personal financial success by reaching savings goals. My goals have changed a lot over the last few years and of course, success for myself varies each day. When it comes to blogging, I currently judge the success of it by unique page visits per day.

5 Abigail June 25, 2009

This is always a difficult question to answer. Budgets Are Sexy asked something similar on Monday.

For Tim and I, everything has to be relative. We’re simply not attacking life at the same pace as most other people. For good reason. We’re making progress, but I have to constantly remind myself that success is relative. For us, it’s not about how fast we can get rid of debt — though I do sometimes consider that frame of reference — but instead that we’re making progress at all. For now, that has to be enough.

As for long term goals, well that has to be scaled back too. If and when we move to the southwest, Tim’s skin should clear up more and allow him to work. But we won’t ever be anything approaching rich.

I think my ultimate idea of success would just be a) no debt, b) hefty emergency fund (6-12 months’ worth), c) comfortable amount in savings (maybe $10,000 or so?), d) well-funded retirement. I don’t know if we’ll ever make it there, but I think ideally I’d be happy with being able to take a vacation in a couple of European countries without having to scrimp and save to get there. For us to simply decide that’s where we will go that year. Heck, I’d be happy with a yearly vacation period at this point!
.-= Abigail´s last blog ..Spending: Frustration and irrational guilt =-.

6 Laura June 25, 2009

What a great question. I know when my kids were younger I used to think a successful day was if we did not end up in an emergency room. How crazy is that! When I created a product getting it licensed meant success. In the end that did not mean a windfall, security or even happiness. Now that I have started a new blog getting a post out everyday was going to be my measure then the kids got sick and whew…what happened. In the end I think success is – if you do the best you can everyday and do it with love, grace and a lot of gratitude.
Thanks for the great question!

7 Brandy June 25, 2009

What a wonderful post. I just came across this at Alltop. I can honestly say that it’s never really been a question that I have thought about with any certainty, although, now I am. I will be losing my job soon, and have started my own bargain website, I think now is a good time to start defining the terms that you spoke about. Thanks again for such a wonderful post!

8 Reena June 27, 2009

I’m so glad I found a blog about frugal living! My husband and I have made our commitment to living frugally for over a year now and I’ve just been itching for an outlet to discuss the challenges of being smart and frugal vs. living for today with every purchase.
Anyways, how do I define success? I used to define it with career and money. Those two used to be my measuring sticks for everything. I’ve redefined it since. Let me tell you the story: On my honeymoon, I went to see Hearst Castle in San Simeon California and there they tell you about the creator of the castle. How after he was 45yrs old he decided to create the beautiful castle… blah blah blah. When we looked at the Hearst Museum… there were some framed letters he wrote to his mother and builder there.. if you read them, it’s funny you’ll realize that the dude was paying everything on credit and getting deep in debt and everybody was after him. He basically overstretched himself all the time. Still, I left the museum feeling like… “Oh wow, this man is such a great success look at this beautiful castle…” Back at the hotel, I told our concierge at the B&B about how I want to be a great success, that there’s hope for me yet that even after 45 this man did it so can I… And she (Kate) cut me off and set me straight. Kate said, don’t spend your life seeking success everywhere else. Success comes to you everyday in the relationships you have with people. Making a person smile is success. You already are successful. Live it.
That statement changed my life. Yes, I still have the same ambitious career, financial and life goals, however, my mindset has changed for the better. I believe I’m already a success everyday.

9 Kristin June 27, 2009

🙂 Love that quote, Reena!
.-= Kristin´s last blog ..Recessionista Garden Tips: Free Compost Bin =-.

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