This universal definition of success applies to any person no matter what their background, education, circumstance or any other variable. It’s ingenious!

People are always trying to define success.

A popular definition is that of being happy in life.

But what if the person, who claims he’s happy, has been living homeless for years and literally lives on the streets?

What if he drinks himself into a stupor most days of the week, yet claims he’s happy?

Is he actually successful – just because he’s content with his circumstances?

Another popular definition of success is when a person has achieved their dreams.

This definitely seems like a universal definition that can apply to every single person – until you get to the part about having big dreams.

What if someone never had any lofty goals to accomplish? What if all they want in life is a steady paycheck from their low-skill job, an apartment where everything works, and a car that starts every morning?

I came up with the perfect, universal definition of success several years before I got my diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

I’m not sure if my autism – which gives me unique creative, analytical and problem-solving skills – is behind my coming up with this universal definition.

But I thought I’d toss in mention of my autism anyways, because it defines so much of what I am.

Best Definition of Success

“Success is knowing that if you had to relive your life, you’d do everything the same!”

A spin on this definition would be: “Success is knowing that if you had an opportunity to relive your life, you wouldn’t change a thing.”

Now certainly, that homeless person – if given the chance to relive their life beginning at age 18 – would very, very likely do things differently to avoid ending up homeless.

That person who works a menial, incredibly boring job that yields a steady paycheck, and who lives in an old, rickety apartment building, would very, very likely make different decisions if given the opportunity to live their life over starting at age 20.

We can further spin the definition of success by saying: “You know your life has been successful when you can take any random five-year chunk of your past and realize that there’s no regrettable decisions in that chunk.”

Now I don’t mean trite regrettable decisions such as the dress you chose to wear at your cousin’s wedding, or going on that group hike in which all of you got lost for several hours and you sprained your ankle.

I mean BIG, MAJOR decisions that impacted the trajectory of your life.

Would you not change a thing if given the chance to live your life over starting 10 years ago?

If you can honestly answer a resounding “YES!” then perhaps the last 10 years of your life have been incredibly successful.

Conversely, the definition of failure could be, “Knowing that if you randomly took any five-year segment of your life, you’d do a lot of big things differently.”

An even more focused definition of failure would be: “Knowing that if you took any 12-month portion of your life, you wouldn’t make the same major decisions.”

So … are you a success or a failure? Five years from now, will you realize that if you had to relive those five years, you’d pretty much make the same major decisions? Or will you realize, “My God … I’d do so much so differently!” ?

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder. 


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