If you’ve achieved these 5 things in life, you’re more successful than you think

This is not your mainstream success article.

It won’t feature people with seven-figure salaries, millions of follower counts, or top-tier positions.

Instead, it will give you a glimpse into the lives of seemingly ordinary people who don’t even consider themselves successful because they don’t fit society’s definition of success. 

But to me, they’re successful in their own right, by their own extraordinary circumstances.

I’m no authority on success, but I’ve personally seen these people fight through tough times to achieve success that’s truly their own. 

Take a peek into each person’s journey and if you find yourself relating to their life experiences, take it as a sign that you are more successful than you think.

Let’s dive in!

1) You’ve paid off a massive amount of debt

I’ll start with the story of my friend Sam, who has a debt at nearly six figures.

I know what you’re thinking: 

Debt is the last thing society would associate a successful person with, not to mention one as big as hundreds of thousands.

But let me give you a bit of a back story:

You see, a few years ago, Sam was a couple of millions in debt with zero savings to speak of. 

No, it wasn’t a result of gambling, nor was it a result of having a lifestyle beyond their means.

They were loans taken for their family’s unexpected needs and a chunk of it were loans used to fund a few failed business ventures.

But here’s why Sam is a successful person in my books: 

  • She didn’t bury herself deeper into debt. Instead, she worked extra hard and tightened her belt, allowing her to smash those debts while building a savings fund.
  • She is so much wiser now after learning from her previous financial decision-making mistakes and multiple unsuccessful businesses. 

Now, don’t get me wrong:

This is in no way tolerating debt nor enabling financial irresponsibility – if you really think about it, it’s promoting the opposite. 

And sure, Sam is not yet completely debt-free at this stage. 

But the point is, she rose from failure and is working on progressively making her circumstances better by the day.

As Malcolm Forbes aptly says, “Failure is success if we learn from it.” 

2) You’ve single-handedly played multiple roles

While some successes are a result of failure, some are just delayed.

Like the story of my friend Anna, who embarked on her career at 40 when most of her peers would have already been holding executive-level positions.

But here’s why I consider Anna a success story:

Anna’s journey began at a prestigious law school, but she became pregnant during her first year. Unfortunately, the baby daddy disappeared, and her family disowned her after learning about her pregnancy.

She had no choice but to drop out of school and find odd jobs to make ends meet. 

Anna played the role of mother, father, provider, and nurturer to her beautiful child through the years. She worked night and day to send her child to the best schools and always ensured food was on their table.

When her daughter reached high school, Anna resumed her studies part-time, earning a psychology degree. 

Now, only five years into her professional career, she leads a team of psychologists and is about to put in a deposit for her first home.

Just to clarify: where she is now isn’t the only time I see her as achieving success. 

For me, she was already successful when she raised her child independently, without her family or the baby’s dad by her side.

If Anna’s story feels like your own, struggling through multiple roles, remember this:

Your resilience is the truest measure of your success. In other words, you’re already a success – no matter what you or others may think.

“Success is sweet and sweeter if long delayed and gotten through many struggles and defeats.”

– Amos Bronson Alcott

3) You’ve raised, mentored, or guided admirable people

Talking about family reminds me of my grandmothers.

Neither of them finished high school, which disqualifies them from being successful by modern society’s educational standards.

Yet to me, they are among the most successful people I know. 

One of them dedicated her life to being a homemaker raising 5 children, and one of them managed to raise 7 while also toiling on the farm. 

These two amazing women may not have diplomas to display on their wall, but they definitely earn bragging rights for raising kind-hearted, smart, and respectable children. 

Come to think of it, anyone involved in raising or mentoring a “successful” person also deserves to be called a success. 

Grandparents, parents, teachers, aunts, uncles, siblings, team leaders, colleagues – and, in fact – everyone who has contributed valuable input can give themselves the success badge.

After all, they’re responsible for imparting some sort of guidance in one way or another to that person.

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”

– Napoleon Hill

4) You’re regaining your self-esteem

personality traits more important to success than intelligence If you’ve achieved these 5 things in life, you’re more successful than you think

Sadly, not all people around us are good for us. Some people do nothing but bring us down and make us feel inadequate and unworthy. 

And the saddest part is, because of our love for these people, it can be challenging to kick them out of our lives.

The good news is, it is doable.

Believe me, I’ve seen it first hand:

My cousin Sue was in a 16-year relationship with her high school sweetheart. Little did we know, he was subjecting her to emotional abuse every chance he got. 

Thankfully, she finally found the courage to leave him a year ago. While in the relationship, she used to think she was “unattractive,” unlovable, and a horrible person. 

But after regaining her self-esteem and realizing none of those were true, she now walks confidently, knows her worth, and is an entirely different person. 

Her story is similar to that of my colleague, Lilly, who had to completely cut off her mother from her life. 

Her mother was constantly emotionally and verbally abusing her. And if that wasn’t enough, her mother would always make her feel inferior to everyone around her. This made Lilly feel worthless for almost 38 years of her life.

She finally decided to prioritize her mental health over her relationship with her mother a few months ago. The result? 

A happier and more confident Lilly – and the entire office has noticed this positive change!

Regaining your self-esteem after someone close to you has diminished it is definitely not a walk in the park. 

So, if you’re in the same boat and are finally learning to see your worth, give yourself a pat on the back and remind yourself that you are well and truly a success!

“Your success depends mainly upon what you think of yourself and whether you believe in yourself.”

– William J. H. Boetcker

5) You’re establishing a happy home life

This final one hits close to home – literally.

My brother is my next unconventionally successful story:

For context, my brother is one of the most intelligent people I know. And this is not me being biased. 

He is a Mensa-level genius and was the youngest to be invited to an exclusive national high IQ society.

Now, here’s how he doesn’t fit society’s success standards:

You’d think that with these smarts, he’d quickly rise to the top of the career ladder and land a “great job” by traditional definition. But no, not my brother.

He opted for a median-salary range job because it meant he got to work from home. This was ages ago before remote work was even a thing.

It’s not that he didn’t want a high-paying job or career progression. It goes deeper than that. 

Here’s his “why”:

You see, we grew up in a broken family – we never saw our parents truly happy together. 

So while he has left and right offers for higher paying jobs and “better” career opportunities, my brother’s priority is ensuring that his daughter doesn’t experience the longing for a complete family that we did.

Nearly 10 years in and he still works for the same company and is happy enjoying every day with his family in their home. 

That, to me, is an extreme success – especially given his past circumstances.

So, if you’re sitting there having a mid- or quarter- life crisis and doubting your success, take a step back and look at your family. 

If you get to share dinners together, take trips during school breaks, and are all generally happy enjoying each other’s company, please know that that’s a form of success many people can only dream of.

“Any success you achieve at the expense of your family is not real success.”

– Dave Willis

Success is personal

Take a minute and reflect on this: success isn’t restricted to the glitz and glam, to the big bank accounts or fancy titles.

It’s about the quiet battles you win every day and the obstacles you overcome. 

So, if you’ve seen parts of your life in these stories, guess what? 

You’re doing better than you think. 

You’re actually nailing and succeeding in this thing called life. 

That said, isn’t it time you give yourself a break and take some credit for the mountains you’ve climbed and the hurdles you’ve crossed?

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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