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What does it mean to be successful?

Hi, Female Settlers!

Welcome to the FS community, resources for education, financial and career opportunities to integrate and thrive in Canada.

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A person receives accolades.

In our society, we are obsessed with success and successful people. We write, talk, read, follow and invest our time into things successful people do, the way they think, sleep, eat, and exercise. We want to imitate their path to success to become successful like them. But what does that look like? What is success?

In the West, success is mainly defined in terms of money and prestige- CEO, founder, expert, millionaire, Ted Talker, Forbes 40 under 40. To attain success is to have one or more of these status(es); and for most people, that success is tied to happiness and satisfaction.


My life satisfaction was linked to what I deemed successful for a very long time. I dreamt of working across the world in international development. I envisioned myself as the next Kofi Annan, leading the United Nations (UN) and eliminating all world problems. Boy, I was naive. When my university education was derailed, I thought I would never pursue my purpose, achieve success, and be truly content. I was depressed; I contemplated suicide. But I continued. Then one day, years later, I realized I was in international development. I was not travelling yet, but I was living my dream differently than I thought. Why wasn't I content? Why didn't I feel successful?

This is the conundrum and the story for most. We envision something so grand and even when we get it, we are chasing something else. If success is what makes us content, then success does not have to be tied to prestige or wealth. It could be about raising kids you want to be friends with when older, enjoying the job you are in right now, moving to the director level or making memories with friends and family.

Success should in the moment so you are not delaying satisfaction for the future. Instead of waiting for that director position, you could volunteer to lead projects. Instead of raising kids you want to be friends with in the future, it could be spending at least an hour with them every day on something you all enjoy.

Instead of adopting what society deems as success, define what success means to you and start every day living in that success. If you want to be an entrepreneur, just start working independently on things/skills your are good at and enjoy every step of the way.


Even though I don't work in the UN and am not the secretary general, I own my business, I work in international development, and I am travelling the world six months at a time. This looks very different from my dream when I was young. Still, I am enjoy every step of the journey, and I hope you do the same.

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