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  5. What Does Success Mean?

As a regular Facebook user, I may use about 5 minutes each time to scroll through my home page to get an update about my friends’ status and what they are doing or sharing in general. Today, somehow, I have a probing and an envy-filled emotion while looking at the overall postings. It seems to me that most of them are living happily, enjoying themselves with food, gatherings, holidaying, birthday celebrations and photos of their kids or pets playing etc…

Suddenly I asked myself this: Is everyone having such a happy and an easy life? Have they figured it all out and living a ‘stress-free’ life? Do they know some secrets in life which I don’t or did I make my life more complex? Then, these big questions came to me, “Are they more successful and happier? and “What does Success truly mean in life?”

In Singapore, a typical and conventional success path seems to be, getting a decent degree and a job, getting married and have kids… then send the kids to some reputable schools, putting them in many different learning classes and tuition (hopefully somewhat more premium-class than others) and expectantly pursuing a superior education with degree/master and get a good paying job, getting married and start a family! Such a cycle may just go on and on until someone along the line rebelliously break that chain! So I wondered, if we can pursue and achieve what we desire in life with fame, wealth, education and social status, does that mean we are successful and happy? Being successful, does not mean one is happy!

Well, for me, I almost got my success path set-up! But the key word here is ‘almost’, because along the way my path begged to differ.

I did have a decent degree, worked and got a good paying job in an MNC company, got married to my first boyfriend of many years, bought a condominium and had continental car etc… Our livelihood had no financial stress or any ‘lack’ for that matter. But things started to be different (from our peers) when we couldn’t have our own kid. I left my corporate job in my late 20s, started my own business (which I am still running now) and somehow it also broke that normality chain among my peers. A couple of years ago, my marriage broke down and we went through an amicable divorce and now I am living my singlehood life again.

Well, I did ask myself these questions… if I were to turn back the clock and walked a typical Singaporean dream of having a complete family with children, will my life be happier? Will I feel that my life is less successful than others when I am single again and have no children?

Strangely, the answer is NO and NO.  In fact, I feel ‘lucky’ that I don’t have any kid now so that I have the whole time to myself and not run errands or plan for their schedules etc. Frankly, I don’t think I have that amount of energy to run my company and be a full time working mum at the same time.

Everyone is unique in our own way. Our character and life path are as unique as our own challenges and learning in our life. We cannot compare or compete with another. What seems happy and successful to one person, may not mean the same for another.

Some people may opt for a non-conventional but successful career which will make them happy such as being a full-time social blogger, trader or traveller or for that matter a highly-educated non-working mum while others may be happier living alone without any relationship commitment or retiring at age 40 and living their life within their means for the rest of their life!

Each of our lives are different and we can choose to lead a life of our own happiness regardless what the society deems ‘success’. Being successful does not mean we follow other’s opinion and definition. We all can be happy and successful in our own ways, only when we give meaning to it. So, we have the empowerment to choose our way of living and what makes it successful. It’s a matter of choice of lifestyle and what we value or what we want to achieve in life. Success does not mean one must make it “BIG” in life with a high-living standard, high-flying jobs and having that ‘picture-perfect’ of that so-called “making-it in life” family photo!

To me, ultimately, success can just be our own fulfilment, of content and simply just being happy in life whether we make it big in life or not. We have our own journey from birth to death and each is unique and honourable in its own way.

Finally, before I closed my Facebook page today, I tell myself that everyone has their own way of happiness and success. And often, we should just give gratitude of what we already have in life. We are generally far more blessed than most people in other countries, where food/water, clothing and simple education is still a farfetched dream! The only thing we need to pursue is… What kind of life we want to live and what makes us successful and happy (at the same time) in our own little ways.

That’s why at ElevenAsia, we strongly believe in  “Living Your Best Life”! Your best life is unique to YOU-only. What you feel is best for you, not what others feel or perceive. So, what does success means to you? Only YOU would know the answer.


As the founder of Eleven, Iris believes that we can inspire people with real-life stories and personal experiences so we all can live a supportive and meaningful life with one another. She is passionate about learning and self-development and believes that one should keep learning till the last breath.

Learn more about her here.