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  • Writer's pictureStacy G. Smith, MS, LPC

The Key to Success

Success can be a challenging concept to define. Why? Because each individual has a personal, unique definition, all of which are correct. While accomplished is generally what comes to mind, the specific accomplishment each individual seeks can vary greatly.

One individual may find success when they reach the top of their respective field, while someone else may find success in securing a roof over their head. A student may reach success when receiving straight A's on their report card, while a mother's success may be watching their child grow up happy and healthy. A child's success, on the other hand, may be getting a new toy for his birthday, while a teenager's success may be getting asked to the prom by their crush. No accomplishment is better than the other, as they all produce the sought-after feelings of happiness and joy!

Our own definition of success is generally based on a goal (or goals) we set for ourselves. We look into the future and ask, "what do we want to see? What do we want to accomplish?" We may look to the near future, or we may look many years down the road. Sometimes, we may look both near and far. Either way, setting goals for ourselves is important. They give us purpose, instill motivation, and give us a journey to embark on, rather than passively going through the motions of every day life.

I encourage all those who are reading this to pause and ask yourself, "what are my goals?" "What am I currently striving for?" "What's my next step in my life journey?"

Once we set goals, it can be quite common to want instant success. We may want to lay out a series of steps, that, once we complete in order, we are guaranteed the end prize - our success! Unfortunately, success does not work like that. As depicted in the graph above, success can look like a mess! A series of twists, turns, ups, and downs.

Recognize that setbacks, bad days, and even bad weeks, are 100% normal. They do not mean you have failed, that you are not trying hard enough, and that you do not deserve the success you are out to reach. In fact, these are the moments that make your ultimate success all the more gratifying. It is a testament to how much you wanted that success, how much you were willing to fight for it, and how much you will now enjoy it.

Unfortunately, individuals may give up on their goals at the first sign of trouble. They may see their goals as being too challenging, and simply not worth it. But, if they take a step back to reflect on why they set a particular goal for themselves in the first place, chances are, it was highly meaningful for them at the time, and so yes, it is worth fighting for.

As each of you continue to pursue your goals, remember why that goal is important for you, and why it is worth fighting for. Remember to enjoy the journey - the ups, the downs, the ins, the outs - and know that two steps forward and one step back, is still progress in the right direction. Even eight steps forward and four steps back is still four steps further than when you started. You will learn lessons along the way, meet new people, gain new experiences, and grow wiser. Those are all steps in and of themselves. Appreciate your growth, reflect often, and enjoy the destination when you get there.

So, if you were to ask me, "What is the key to success?" my response would undoubtedly be To Ride the Roller Coaster, Hold on Tight, and Enjoy the Ride!

What goals are you working towards? And what made you set them?


DISCLAIMER: The blog posts shared on contain the opinions of Stacy Smith, MS, LPC, and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations or affiliates. While Stacy is a licensed mental health professional, all blog posts on her site are for informational purposes only, and are never a substitute for professional advice catered to your individual needs. Stacy Smith is not liable for any diagnosis, treatment plans, or decisions made based on the information presented on this website. Furthermore, commenting on posts does not mean a treatment relationship has been established with Stacy Smith.​

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