So what is success?

24 March 2020

So what is success?

Success is individual, and therefore is entirely dependent on ascertaining what a client views as success. Typically, it is about what a client wants to achieve, and how they would like to live. Therefore, instead of a single measure of success, I would define it as the achievement of meaningful goals which have been set in order to create a future worthy of an individual’s beliefs, values, needs and wants.


Because a client’s view of success is individual, it is very difficult to make comparisons between clients. 

For example, in terms of career goals, client A may have an aspiration to earn a six figure salary, whatever the sacrifice or commitment required. For them, they may intensively focussed on this goal, due to their background, peer group, personal values or material wants and needs. For them, achievement of this may be defined as career success.

Client B, however, has a modest lifestyle, is not terribly ambitious, and does not care much for material items. Client B is happy earning an income which puts food on the table, and allows for an annual holiday.  For them, career success may be defined as work life balance, where they can ideally work four days a week,  9-5 local to where they live, earn enough to meet their needs, and have sufficient time to spend with family, friends, and pursuing their own hobbies and interests which they love, such as playing in band, or singing in a choir.

Client C however, may define career success as a job which is rewarding, and altruistic. They want to work for a charity, or a school, because they find happiness in helping others, which gives them a deeper sense of purpose. They may measure their career success by the amount of fundraising achieved, or number of graduates, or even in achieving recognition, or awards, such as at a formal ceremony, or even in magazines, blogs, TV or social media. They may indeed be successful in their career, but in a very different way to Clients A & B. 

Comparing success

In the above examples, each client aspires towards career success, but in each case, the measure of success is entirely different. They may each ultimately be successful, based on the criteria and goals they set, even though they are all completely different.   The final viewpoint around success, is one of benchmarking, and this in many cases can be one in which clients may view success differently. For example, Client A could be benchmarking against friends, family, or role models. Sometimes, this does not take into account personal circumstances, abilities, and skills. As a result, the achievability of this goal has many contributors, and therefore benchmarking against others is not necessarily a good measure of success. 

Cognition offers career coaching in West Sussex that will put you onto a progressive career path that aligns with your core interests and ambitions.


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