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Was does it take to be successful? Do you deem yourself successful? Presumably the opposite of success is failure and everybody actively seeks to avoid that – but what is success? As I continue to gallivant around the globe, visit new places, meet new and awesome people it’s got me thinking about the definition of success, and that perhaps the West has got it all wrong…

are you successful?


Away from the world of freedom, long term travel and working for yourself, there’s a world back home where some people work much longer hours than they want to, people have to deal with redundant tasks every day, micro-management, incompetent bosses, unhappy relationships and, in fairness, hefty pay packets. I know of people who drive Porsches, wear Armani suits, work in finance and dread Sunday evenings because they know Monday morning is but one nights sleep away – but hey, their Porsche is so shiny! They must be successful right??


What does it mean to be successful, because by my understanding Western appreciation of success simply means to have a lot of money. Forget good friends, nice family, awesome work/life balance, waking up with a smile on your face regardless of whether it’s the weekend or not – that, seemingly, only registers a blip on the success chart. What you need to be successful is money, and plenty of it.


I know that if I arrived back in my town in Ireland, or anywhere for that matter, driving a Ferrari with the top down, people who have known me for years would think ‘wow, Johnny is really successful now’. However, if I return on a local bus with 100 countries stamped in my passport, a second (or third) language in my locker, new friends from all over the world, amazing experiences that will stay with me forever but living out of my backpack, not one person would deem my life successful – is that the right way to look at success? Would I be more successful if I were to work in an office and be on first name terms with my bank manager? To be rich is not to be successful, and to be successful is not to be rich.


In my humble opinion success should never be tied to your pay packet or bank account. That seems all wrong. Success should be judged on how you live your life, what you do with your talents and ability, the experiences you encounter and the mark you leave on other people and society in general. To be a true success, I think you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and like the person you see… and that’s a lot harder than counting your cash at the end of the month.


English Conversation About Success
English Conversation About Success

Lets not try to judge success in dollar signs, lets try to live our lives in a manner which makes us, and the people around us, as happy and fulfilled as we can possible be. If we manage that, then I believe we have found genuine success in our lives. Happy travels!


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0 thoughts on “Are You Successful? Is it me or do we have it all wrong?!

  1. Where have you been the last few months that I’ve been drinking in almost every word I can find from ‘lifestyle design’ bloggers?!
    I am dying inside. We all have our reasons for staying tied to one place and one routine that is slowly killing us. But are those things really worth giving our lives for? (I like to think my mother and sister NEED me… but who am I kidding, they want me to live for them, not die for them!).
    You have thrown out a challenge… I too have my own definition of success and what I am doing now is not it! I really don’t know what is holding me (and my husband back) but I tell you I’m ready for our success now.
    Thanks for such an inspiring post.. and blog. 🙂

    1. if you’re ready Michelle then go for it 🙂 the onus is on you to make the change yourself.. I’m sure you can do it, you just gotta make that mental commitment and the rest is easy 🙂

  2. I think there a lot of grey area’s on that one. Yes, the west associates success with money and power buts its all rooted in insecurities. The reason success is so valued is:
    a) is sets us apart from the 3rd world – we are the powerful West. If we cant flaunt our success in our flashy cars and big ass houses, whats the point? No one buys a range rover simply because they like it. Part of the joy of owning one is knowing what other people think when they you see you driving in one. $$$

    And b) it affords security. And thats the most important thing to most people. Your family want you to do well finanicially because it means they dont have to worry about you. Apparantly watching you get ulcers due to work stress and soul destroying 9-5’s is preferable to the alternative; having your card declined for an 80p loaf of bread (I swear thats never happened to me!)

    Personally, i think its a damn shame that we live in a society that equates money with power/success. Ultimately, its down to you and how you interpret your own achievements. Sadly its infectious. It’s no longer something that affects the west but you see it all over the world now.

    Im sure my mum is dying a slow death knowing her oldest daughter is a tree hugging, free spirited hippie with no desire to have the 9-5/2.4 kids/soccer mum package deal thing. Bet she wishes all those days spent trying to teach me how to bake and be the perfect stay at home mum were billable hours. But deep down I think she knows im happy in my tree hugging ways.

    And thats it for me. People who know and love you know what makes you happy. Doesnt mean they will like it lol but it means they will (learn to) respect it. They are always gonna want their idea of success for you but ultimately, they (eventually) make peace with the fact that youre happy and if living out of a bag/in a tree house/playing with stray dogs is what makes you happy, then they find ways to make peace with it.

    p.s I dont actually live in a tree house…but wouldnt that be fab lol

    p.p.s yes…ill leave your blog alone now. procrastinating is getting boring lol

    1. love love love your big replies nandi, cheers! 🙂

      security and bravado may be the reason we strive for so much wealth but we gotta find our own path. People who follow a path created by others may never find true happiness (or success) so lets blaze our own trails and reap the rewards 🙂

  3. Since joining the Navy, I’m making about 60-75% less money annually than I did in my peak years working in the mortgage business. Yet, I feel like I’m happier than I was then. I actually save more money too. I can plan trips that last for 30 days rather than 4-5 days. I spend my days outdoors rather than behind a cubicle. I go to work and every day is different than the previous one. On top of that, I get to see the world and go places that use to be in my dreams.

    I agree with your definition of success. When my time comes and I reflect on my life, I will smile at the places I saw, the people I met, the loves I had, the beaches I stepped on, the championships I saw Man United win 🙂 and the lives I touched. What I had in my wardrobe, the car I drove, the watches I wore, none of that will matter or be remembered.

    Great post, Johnny!

    1. spot on fidel, thanks for that (but lets not mention Man Utd eh?!). Your life sounds really interesting, you should write an article about career choices for someone, it would be a compelling read

  4. Success is how each of us defines it for ourselves. Don’t worry about what other people think of you, as long as you’re happy with your life. I agree, though, that it’s high time our societies redefined “success”.

  5. I had the “successful” career, the big house (in the right neigbourhood), two cars in the garage… I quit the job, sold the house and everything in it and moved on! I’m now, (financially broke) but never been happier or more successful!

    1. wow Genevieve – it’s great that you found what you were after, and to hear it from someone who’s done it both is very compelling – thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. We have it all wrong, to answer your question!

    Funny, I just wrote almost an exact same post from a different perspective, in which I *caught myself* claiming that maybe I’m not a successful person because my current vocation (blogging!) isn’t making me money. Weird, how sometimes we need to teach ourselves lessons like this over and over…that’s how *ingrained* it is in our Western society!

    1. that’s crazy! great minds think alike huh 😛 it’s so difficult to alter the preconceptions we’ve had implanted into our psyche from birth but i think it’s slowly changing in my mind 🙂

  7. Hi Johnyy!
    I really enjoyed your article, it is so very true what you said about success. It’s not measured in cash but in your life experiences, real happiness and your positive attitude towards life!

    My boyfriend and I left out home country (South Africa) last year November and we have been traveling through South East Asia for the last few months, and the plan is to carry on doing so. We absolutely love this lifestyle, everyday is different and an adventure not to mention a great discovery of the world and ourselves as individuals.

    Happy travels and maybe we will cross paths one day!


    1. hey barbara – im in SE Asia at the mo myself, in thailand 🙂 it’s great to hear you guys are loving life, long may it continue! Any plans to work overseas or just travel travel travel until the money runs out?!

  8. Really dig this. I have reinvented my view of success since leaving the life I knew, including the corporate world I was forced out of, in American and moving to Australia, where I work for myself. I don’t make all the money I could in corporate America, but I wake up happier than I ever have, or at least since college. We all need to define our own terms of success and strive to live up them, not other people’s.

    1. hey lauren – yeah you’re right, we need to work out what success means for us – and undoubtedly that’ll start with how happy we are as opposed to how much cash we have! Good luck in Oz, i was there last year for a while – where are u based?

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