Defining Success

How do I define a successful day?  For me, a successful day is one I can come home from knowing that I did my very best, I gave it my all, I made good choices that upheld my integrity and that I treated others with kindness and respect.  That is a successful day.  Every other good thing that happens in my day is just icing on the cake.

An interesting thing happened as I was being interviewed on a podcast today.  The interviewer said he felt people probably looked at me and thought to themselves “I bet she’s never had a pimple in her life, she’s probably never had her heart broken by anyone, she’s probably never failed at anything…her life’s probably perfect”. He then asked me to respond.  Because it was a timed podcast I gave a short response, but I’ll give all of you the full story:

Regarding the pimples – okay I’ll admit I’ve definitely been blessed with good skin genes (thanks mom and dad!). However, I have spent a lifetime battling body image insecurities. Around age 11 or 12 I started making myself throw up my food to try and get skinnier. For years I went through cycles of starving myself, then binging and purging, and then back to starving myself. No matter how thin I became all I could see in the mirror was an overweight girl who never looked good. It wasn’t until I became pregnant with my first baby at age 23 that I finally overcame the eating disorder, but the battle to overcome the body image issues of always feeling overweight is something I still struggle with to this day. However, I’ve learned that the best way to feel more beautiful externally is to focus my attention on doing things that make me more beautiful internally such as being kind and loving others.

Regarding having my heart broken – I’ve been through a miscarriage of a baby, a marriage that ended in divorce, a broken-off marriage engagement along with several other dating relationships that didn’t work out over the years after my divorce, the loss of my best friend, loved ones facing addiction, the loss of multiple extended family members…I’ve experienced my share of heartbreak.

Regarding failures – the reality is that I have failed at more things than I could begin to count in just about every aspect of my life.  But long ago I decided to define failure a little differently – I decided failure wasn’t mistakes or failed attempts in my life so long as I learned something from them and I didn’t repeat the same mistakes twice. That view on failure has helped me pick myself up each time I fall and move forward which is what’s enabled the successes I’ve achieved.

My life isn’t perfect, but no one’s life is. We all have our pimples, our heartbreaks, and our failures…even me!  But those aren’t what define us.  How we choose to live our today is what defines us. How we choose to move forward is what defines our success.

How do I define a successful life?  To me a successful life isn’t about money, or title, or success, or fame, or external beauty. To me a successful life will be one where I can return home, this time to my Father in Heaven, and tell Him I did the best I could do to live each new day a little better than the last, that I picked myself up each time I failed and moved forward, and I did what I could to help others to excel.  The rest will be icing on the cake.

~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )


  • Bogdan says:

    Very nice post, thank you for sharing and opening your heart even though you did not have to. I keep reading your writing because you are a good influence in my life. Thank you and may God give you the successful life on your terms defined above!

  • Donna Law says:

    This was a very timely message for me today. Thanks so much for the personal insights you share…

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