Living Fearlessly & Re-Defining Success On Your Terms


I am successful if I have a great job that pays well. I am successful if I have a relationship and am married to ‘Prince Charming’. I am successful if I am recognized and acknowledged as an expert in my field. I am successful if I have my dream home with a white picket fence, two kids and dog. I am successful if I drive a certain car. I am successful if I am getting a pat on the back from my boss. I successful if I have fame, recognition and praise.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of success is:

1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
2. The attainment of fame, wealth, or social status.

Over the years, social conditioning has led us to believe in a distinct definition of success. We’re taught that money and power are everything. That we need to push harder, climb higher, and accrue more materially. That being endlessly busy, being the first in the office, eating at your desk, and working 17 hour days are things to be applauded.

For most of my life, I bought into these beliefs. In fact, it wasn’t until I started my inward journey that I even became aware of them. Before that, my measure of success was always gauged by external influences — how much I earned, the gigs I was getting, the level of hotness of my boyfriends, and the amount of social recognition I was getting.

But let me tell you: when your life is ruled by these kinds of yardsticks, you’re setting yourself up for trouble. You are never fulfilled (and never truly happy) because you are always searching outside yourself.

I also used to believe that you had to work extremely hard (sacrificing your health, happiness, sanity and relationships) in order to be “successful”. It wasn’t until after I hit rock bottom and turned inward that I realised I was carrying around someone else’s definition of success and that it wasn’t even my own. When I stopped and asked myself what do I believe success is, I couldn’t find the answer. It’s taken years for me to figure it out and refine it, but this is what I now believe to be true:

Success is living each moment from a heart-centered space.
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If I can put my head on the pillow at night and say I lived each moment from my heart, then I have had a successful day.

Why this makes my cells dance and my soul sing is because if I am living from a space of love instead of fear, everything in my life is going to flow and is driven by passion. My work, relationships, health and finances — nothing needs to be forced, and everything is allowed to unfold.

In a recent interview, Malcolm Gladwell was asked what he thinks is the single most important factor determining a person's success:

“It's having the desire to win and the passion for what you’re doing.”

When asked what has helped make him so successful, Gladwell said it’s because he’s no longer held back by fear. And I couldn’t agree more in my own life.

Fear is poison for your body and mind. It keeps you hostage in Fear Town.
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Is your definition of success driven by fear or passion?

Passion pumps through your veins and lights you up; fear makes you curl in and contract.

Everyone has different desires and needs, but it’s super important you get crystal clean on yours.

I asked some of my beautiful friends what their definition of success was. Here’s what they came back with:

James Colquhoun from Foodmatters says, "Success is not in numbers, results or reaching goals... it's a feeling that resides deep within your being. It’s a knowingness on a deep subconscious level that everything is absolutely always unfolding perfectly.”

Entrepreneur superstar Lisa Messenger believes, "Success is simply defined as freedom and choice. Freedom and choice to do what you want with your life.”

The inspirational Lorna Jane says, "Knowing that what you do is actually making a positive difference in other peoples lives ... that to me is success.”

Take a moment now and write down your definition of success and share it with us in the comments below.

This might take a moment so stick with it. Once you have it, write it on a Post-it note and stick it on your fridge so you can constantly be reminded of what success means to you.

As always, thank you for sharing and being part of this epic tribe. You are inspiring people all over the world with your wisdom and comments.

Comments (29)

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    • November 13, 2014

      My definition of success is being present in both the comfortable and uncomfortable moments of life, knowing that I am always right where I'm meant to be, and I am always enough. No matter what.

      • Melissa Ambrosini
        November 13, 2014

        Love that honey.


        • Shirley
          November 13, 2014

          Love your definition Kirstin, you found the words of how I feel about my definition of succes. Thanks

      • duygu
        November 13, 2014

        My success definition is when the day ended if you could be grateful for the breath you are taking and grateful for your heart for
        beating, this is success... being grateful for the day and asking for another day...

      • Charlotte
        November 13, 2014

        Definitely something that resonates with me strongly- that feeling that without recognition, money & a constant 'striving to be better' that I'm not successful...it's something I'm actively trying to work on, so thank you!

        My success that I'm trying to achieve: Being present in each moment, knowing that what I am doing & where I am heading in life is enough, and no matter was I am always where life intends me to be.

        Thanks Melissa for a timely reminder x

    • kayla
      November 13, 2014

      Melissa you've nailed it!

      By reframing my definition of success with passion I'm more likely to take those risks and work harder to achieve my goals.

      - Kayla

    • November 13, 2014

      Hi Melissa, it's a great question and one that would be fantastic in schools, starting in junior school X. Success for me, as a writer and mother, is the ability to be fearlessly myself. To honour and accept me and to let me be seen in this world.

      Imagine kids honoring that place first as a goalxx

    • Mia
      November 13, 2014

      Success to me is getting out of your own way and helping yourself before you can help others. Success is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Success is knowing you get up every morning and your helping change someones life in some kind of way. Success is putting in 100% of your effort and knowing you gave it your best show, each and every time!

    • Janelle
      November 13, 2014

      I love your definition Kirstin! x

    • Kimberley
      November 13, 2014

      My definition of success is...
      Being true to myself.
      Honoring who I am, in all situations.
      Making decisions that empower me.
      Following my own inner compass.
      Loving myself.
      Loving my life.
      Waking up and smiling.
      Being motivated to pursue my dreams.

      Thank you for this space Melissa.
      And for prompting beautiful self exploration :)

    • Rohima
      November 13, 2014

      For me success is when I know I've put my heart and soul into what is before me, when I can go to sleep knowing that I've done the most I could. Success for me is to also to be free from the opinions and expectations of others and when I begin to value my voice over others. After all no one knows me better than myself.

    • November 13, 2014

      Hi Mel, Your words have come at the most perfect time. This article made me refocus and understand that actually success for me is being really in touch with my souls purpose and having the courage to live out that purpose with love and kindness and kick ass-ness! Thank you for being for being such a inspiring person X

    • Geena Gaffney
      November 13, 2014

      Success to me is sharing my love, joy and passion from an internal place.

    • Esther
      November 13, 2014

      My definition of success is following what gives me goosebumps.
      Letting myself do and express what I love. Letting my light and heart shine as much as I can, right now :) xxxx

    • November 13, 2014

      Great post Mel.

      My definition of success is:

      // Forgiveness
      // Being real (in both the good and bad moments)
      // Having the courage to follow my heart
      // Speaking the truth (even when it hurts)
      // Loving, unconditionally
      // Serving those who need me most (and letting the rest go)

      This list could go on FOREVER... but that'll do for now.

    • Charmaine
      November 13, 2014

      To me, success is being my whole self, in every situation, and moment, and not apologizing for who I am.




    • November 13, 2014

      To be quite honest I feel like I'm successful for still being alive and without bitterness or anger after some of the things that have happened in my life. To have made it through what I have and still be able to wake up each day with a smile. To be authentic and to know and love and trust myself. To be kind to others and be of service to the world. I believe all this makes me incredibly successful and no one will ever convince me differently. x

    • November 14, 2014

      What a fantastic reminder! Thank you for this! xx

    • Katrin
      November 14, 2014

      Success to me is being able to do what I love and giving from my heart space every single day - just for the pure joy of it.

    • emily winwood
      November 15, 2014

      I love this article!!
      Success to me is:

      * being emotionally, spiritually and academically fulfilled
      * thriving in health, vitality, happiness, finances and relationships
      * LOVING who I am and what I do

      xx Em

    • Shalee
      November 16, 2014

      I love this Mel! I just spent a few days at the beach, and everyday I spent near the ocean I felt fulfilled. Way more fulfilled than I would running around trying to get my "to-do" list done! xx

    • November 20, 2014

      I love this Melissa and can really relate with your story. When I hit rock bottom as well, I discovered how I had been living my life ruled by the pressures of society and what I thought I "should" be doing - it was a constant search for SOMETHING to fill the emptiness within. Thankfully, with a lot of soul searching I came to the realisation that just being my authentic self is completely and totally ENOUGH. This to me, is my definition of success - to live this wholeheartedly. xxx

      • Melissa Ambrosini
        November 20, 2014

        Beautiful honey.


    • Tracy wright
      December 6, 2014

      Success to me is the ability to make someone feel good. It could be going for a walk and simply telling the person weeding in their yard how beautiful their garden is. It's amazing how rewarding it is when you know you've made a small difference in someone's day.

    • December 14, 2014

      True words! You are amazing Melissa!

    • Trish
      January 25, 2015

      Success is truly loving what you do and who you are. Success is feeling soul-deep happiness and contentment in your life.

    • March 6, 2015

      […] 6) What is the key to success? Living each moment from a heart-centered space. […]

    • April 19, 2017

      Success for me feeling a sense of belonging in my own skin and life.

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