Do Numbers Define Success?

What defines success?

Is it the number of readers you have? Is it the number of followers you have on Twitter or Facebook? Is it the number of sales you generated?

Most people would say it is the money you earn. Of course, that does not tell you the full story.

For example, I could earn twice as much money per month through freelancing by simply doubling the number of hours I work. However, this does not mean I am more successful. As while I would have more money in my bank account, I would have less time to exercise and spend quality time with family and friends.

So what really defines success online?

What Defines Success?

WP Ninjas CEO James Laws raised this question last week in his blog post “The Dangers of Success by Numbers“.

James noted that while some people may view sharing income and revenue reports may appear to be an attempt to massage the person’s own ego, a lot of people can learn from the success and failure of others. However, numbers do not define success.

WP Ninjas generates hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue every year. Most people would agree that their company is successful, but I was pleased to see that James does not see success in those terms.

He noted that:

At least for me, success is more defined by the lifestyle it affords me. Financial independence, opportunity for generosity, and flexibility of schedule are my goals and everything else is simply a bonus. For you it may be something completely different but this one things remain true; only you can define success for you and your business.

We all want our businesses to grow, but don’t chase the numbers at the expense of the things that really matter. Otherwise you may find yourself with huge numbers but zero success.

I agree with James 100% on this viewpoint.

There has been times in my life when I have made good money by working over 70 hours per week. The irony being that I was too busy to enjoy the money I was earning.

Working long hours is ok temporarily if you are saving for something, however if you want to be happier, I believe you need to find a better balance between work and play. For me, that balance would be to work around 20 and 30 hours per week i.e. around 5 hours per day between Monday and Friday.

That would be sufficient work to stop me from getting bored, but would not be enough where I stop enjoying what I do. More importantly, it would give me lots of free time to do the things I love.

The important ingredient in choosing a happy lifestyle is financial security.

The goal is to reach a level where you can maintain your lifestyle and provide security for your family. If you can pay your bills, save a little for the future, and take a few holidays every year, most people would be happy.

The reason is that once you reach a certain level of success, your time becomes more valuable to you. I would much rather earn 100 hundred thousand per year working 30 hours per week than making 200 hundred thousand working 60 hours per week. Hell, I would take earning 50 thousand per year by not working!

The point is that once you reach a certain level of income and no longer need to struggle with paying bills, your happiness will not increase by earning more money. You will be happier by doing the things you love, whether that be spending time with family, travelling, learning new skills, or whatever.

We are all striving to become more successful in 2015; myself included. However, I think it is important to not forget what is important in life.

Sales and earnings may be how we compare the success of our businesses on a month to month basis, though the main goal should be a comfortable lifestyle that allows you to do the things we want in life.

Thanks for reading.

Kevin