The Definition of Success

We all have our own definition of success. For some it means a certain income level, for others it’s a social status or professional accreditation. Though we each get to define what success means for us, whether or not others agree with your definition is up to them. Hopefully that doesn’t matter much to you.


For me, the definition of success is living life on my terms. I think success is achieved when we define those terms and begin to live our lives by them. We’re well on our way and constantly striving to make progress. Over the last couple of years Vanessa and I have been focusing more and more on the 5 pillars that guide our life together and define success for us: Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances, and Freedom (if you’ve been listening to the show for a while, you may notice that the “Future” pillar changed to “Freedom”. You’ll be hearing more about that soon). Read more…

So where are we on the road to success? Well, we still have a lot of traveling yet to go, but here’s where we are so far when it comes to living on our own terms: I retired from the military after a 27 year career. I had a blessed career and in retirement I’m able to “shape” my future more than most people as I at least have some pension to support myself and my family. Vanessa and I have also built mutually supporting lifestyle businesses to support our 5 pillars. So in many cases, we are already “successful” in the eyes of others since I’ve essentially been retired since I was 45, and Vanessa works as she wants in her late 30s. But getting to this point wasn’t easy for us, and I doubt it’s easy for anyone. That said, to meet your definition of success, you need to gauge your progress. So, here are just a few major “wins” for us so far:

  • We get to take our kids to school in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. I love that! I love my time alone in the car with my son and/or daughter, talking about the day’s events. To me, it’s quality “Papa time”, never a chore.
  • I’m here with my family and not in some sandy foreign land. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my adventures! But I missed about 8-9 years of my son’s first 13 and I never want to miss another day. As much as I loved my military career, being gone so much sure “put the suck in success” as we used to say.
  • A lot of the time I get to work in the office with Vanessa. Two years ago we built ourselves a shed in the back yard which we call our “World Shedquarters.” So, it’s a 19-step commute. I built the office shed with my own two hands and we’ve had a lot of people say how much they love it. It’s even been featured on the Herman Miller furniture blog, Shedworking in the UK and the Apartment Therapy website, too.  But what makes building the shed a little victory is that it gives us a place to record our show every week…something separate from the home.
  • Speaking of the show, it has been a major success for us to find so many others who think like we do, have goals similar to ours, and listen in even though we’re just sharing our journey. I’ve always wanted to do a podcast. Vanessa just kinda went along. But I think about 2 shows into it she got bit by the podcast bug! Based on the feedback we get, we feel we can chalk up Simple Life Together as a win, too! By the way, if you haven’t had the chance to give us a review in iTunes, here’s your chance! Thanks!
  • Finally, we’re at the point where we get to pick who we want to work with and when. That’s a pretty amazing feeling. We get to work with people who share our values and appreciate the value we bring. Our clients don’t mind at all paying our rates and they feel they’re getting help from people who truly care…because we do! It is a win-win relationship all the way around. Plus, working this way frees us up to do other projects that we want to dedicate ourselves to, such as Simple Life Together, and some other projects we’re working on, too!

There you have five examples of us living on our own terms as we try to live up to our own personal definition of success. Like I mentioned, we have a LONG way to go, but at least we get to share that long journey together.

So, what are the pillars or core values that guide you to success? What little victories have you achieved along the way that help you gauge your progress?

I challenge you to write your own definition of success, and strive to achieve it. We’ll certainly be there to cheer you and offer some opinions along the way, if asked. We’re big believers in the old saying “a high tide raises all ships.” Leave a comment below to let us know how we can help! Best of luck and effort to you!

Photo Credit: orvalrochefort

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5 thoughts on “The Definition of Success

  1. This is great for so many reasons! From a Healthy Marriage standpoint, it gives the opportunity to have a real conversation with your Wife. You talk about what your goals are together, put them on paper, and commit to them. You know you share a common goal in life and you have both had input into the process. You become a true team and one unit.
    From a simple success standpoint, writting down clear goals is the best first step towards achieving them. As Zig Ziglar used to say, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it everytime.”
    From a psychological standpoint, you remove the comparison trap can create self-defeating emotions. You do not compare yourself with what others have done, because they may have separate goals in life. By avoiding the comparison trap, you avoid potentially feeling down on your self if you don’t have that fancy new car (for example). You also avoid that ‘keeping up with the Jones’ problem (consumerism) that really put this country into our economic hole to begin with.
    Thanks so much for putting this down on paper and sharing it with us!

    • You’re so right Leh! There has to be purity in setting your own terms for life because, as you mentioned, it effects every aspect of life! Thanks for taking the time to comment and we love your show Healthy Married Life at

  2. Since retiring from the military, earned an MBA, and run a small fitness business, I am realizing life really comes down to one word: BALANCE. Like in Martial Arts, there is the Ying and the Yang, and you guys have come up with your F’s, you forgot one other, FRIENDS.

    Depending on ones belief system, I really belief life is about living for God first and foremost or like you folks stated FAITH.

    Then, it’s FAMILY or in marital cases, after GOD, our priority is our WIFE or HUSBAND and then our KIDS if we have them and then our SIBLINGS, MOTHER, FATHER, etc…

    So, if our FAITH and FAMILY are in order, next up should be time spent with our FRIENDS, if we have them, even if its just one or two.

    Lastly, our FITNESS, which technically can be right after GOD, because like the old saying “You can’t love others until you love yourself first”, well, you can’t enjoy family if we don’t take care of our own spiritual, physical, mental, emotional well being.

    Now, SUCCESS in in secular world, usually involves where most of us spend a lot of our days, weeks, months, and years slaving over, which is at WORK. But, no matter how much we hustle or work hard, if we are not putting God, Family, Friends, and Fitness first before work, then we will always struggle in life finding the true meaning of SUCCESS and finding that true HAPPINESS.

    A great documentary done by the famous footballer (soccer player) David Beckham – Into the Unkown, has him realize after all the success, family, kids, playing 20+ years of professional soccer, it’s in the jungles of Amazon he realizes the true essence of a SIMPLE LIFE from the natives and being able to get away from the hustle and bustle of L.A. and being a star and not being recognized, he realized how nice it felt when nobody knew who he was and really going to a far away, isolated country, and not having to be anywhere or go anywhere, it was basically AWESOME !!!!

    I recently have been thinking strong about how we as humans define success and I am always brought back to a famous quote in the movie “The Rookie” about Jack Morris, who was a HS Science teacher and went for it at 38yrs old to make it as a pitcher in the Major Leagues. He never gave up on the DREAM and his father tells him in the movie:

    “It was ok to think about what you want to do until it was time to start doing what you were meant to do.” THE ROOKIE

    We as humans will always have envy, jealousy, and wish or hope for what we may or may not achieve comparing ourselves with others, but like the movie quote, if we think about our dreams and do something about it, while keeping our focus on Faith, Family, Friends, and Fitness, the Finances will be there and if we learn to BALANCE it all and at some point, GO FOR IT with what our gut is telling us and follow that dream, I believe all of us will find SUCCESS, not matter how much money we make or titles we earn in life.

    Thanks for your post and think about my comments as we all learn from one another.



  3. I saw this in your TMI link (see below), you have these pillars or tenants, but you showed it different up above. You might want to update your TMI link and say you have 6 pillars or tenants: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, Finances, and Freedom. Which is basically what I have, I just don’t think about Finances in depth or Freedom, since I am already retired. You should just update your info so folks that are reading the above blog post get a clear picture.

    We would live by our tenants of:

    Faith: What guides us and carries us along the way
    Family: We’ve been blessed with an incredible extended family
    Friends: We have friends all over the world and down the street. No matter where they are, they are always as close as our thoughts.
    Finances: Money doesn’t buy happiness but enables opportunities for us, our kids, and others. It should be respected, not worshipped.
    Future: We look to the future as an opportunity and prepare accordingly. Dan says the best place to meet is at “The intersection of Preparation and Opportunity”

    • Thanks Tom. It does need to be updated. We wrote this when first started and we’ve refined our Pillars since then and they are: Faith, Family (includes friends), Fitness, Finances, and Freedom (used to be future). We’re retired too, but being mindful of our finances and all the other stuff helps ensure our freedom ;o)

      Thank you very much for the heads up!

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