5 Different Kinds of Success

UPDATED: May 27, 2024
PUBLISHED: June 30, 2017

Capitalism has trained us to think about success in a very specific way: a boxed-in type of success that almost feels store-bought, packed and shipped right to our front doors. Replaced by things, soul-searching success is left by the wayside. After all, why try to cultivate success when it can be purchased with a single click?

Success for many is being financially stable, an expert in a certain industry, acquiring tangible possessions and status. Although this construct of success works for several entities, it doesn’t work for everyone.

Today, success breaks down the box, builds it back up and calls it something else. Success is more about a feeling than anything we can put our hands on; it’s personal and it’s not always understood by everyone around us. Deconstructing success means self-reflection, but also taking a good look at the types of success society has tried to push upon us. No more swapping hearts for coins, people. We mustn’t lose perspective.

Despite societal pressure, there are various types of success that don’t adhere to the norm or that have been forgotten. And in looking at them, we can open gates that lead us to a success that feels both authentic and rich.

Related: The 3 S’s of Success (and How to Achieve Them)

1. Small

How quickly we bypass the small achievements as though they amount to nothing. Whoa, behold, the splendor of success when it lies in the minutest of details. In small successes, we can find larger ones. When we declutter our inboxes or organize our homes, we can address that which all of the clutter was covering up; for we are notorious for hiding behind and beneath things, using them as an excuse, living in fear of the unknown and staying put. When we move away the debris, it’s much easier to unearth that which has remained buried for safekeeping.

Look at it this way:

  • Have you recently cleared out a space in your home to start your creative business? Success. Pat yourself on the back.
  • Have you found an organic, whole-food diet that gives you the energy you need for the entire day and increases your vibrational force? Success. Give yourself a big hug.
  • Have you rid yourself of things, people and attitudes that have been holding you back? Success. You deserve a moment of rest.

OK, maybe these aren’t exactly small successes, but they are in the sense that they are the first actions we must take on the road to success. And not just any kind of success; we’re talking about a lasting, fulfilling, make-your-body-hum-with-happiness-all-over success. When we can look at small successes as indicators of bigger ones, then we’re able to see the whole picture. Plus, this offers us the vision to be able to see that breaking down success into smaller, more manageable pieces is what will bring us closer to that dream life.

2. Simple

If you know what the acronym K.I.S.S. stands for, then you probably have an inkling about what simple success means. We complicate things more often than not and more frequently than necessary. It’s understandable. Goals, dreams and plans to achieve success feel larger than life itself. And inside of our heads, this stress can multiply quickly and spiral out of control. Before we know it, without taking one step in the direction of success, we’ve already talked ourselves out of it.

Rather than keep all those ideas inside, let them flow into the outside world. Write it down, make a collage, a painting, a series of photographs or sketches, talk to someone you trust. When we start to talk about our ideas of success and how to get there, when we manifest the thoughts and desires on the inside into tangible, visual, auditory things on the outside, not only do we feel more in tune, but the universe hears our cry.

Each time we verbalize what we want, someone or something is listening. Talk about your simple needs and desires. Don’t convolute anything. Say what you want, say what you need, speak into reality that which you desire. Say it as simply as possible and say it with conviction. Say it every day and make it a priority. It’s simple, really. The things we love, we give attention to—each and every day without fail. So why not treat your successes the same way? In taking action, talking about your dreams, that is a form of success. It’s simple, but it’s oh, so real.

3. Serene

One of the highest markers of success is serenity. Shame on us for thinking success has to be something of action, something moving and visible to the naked eye. We’ve been tricked to think it looks like a busy body and mind. That’s what society wants to sell us, to keep us distracted, to keep us moving nonstop, to keep us from reflecting on self; and in this way, we dig ourselves deeper into a life that doesn’t include the type of success we deserve. When we can be still, when we can be at peace with ourselves and our surroundings, that is the purest form of success.

Related: 17 Quotes About Finding Inner Peace

Do not underestimate being still, finding serenity. Even if it’s just for a few minutes a day, that is a huge accomplishment and proves you value yourself in relation to success more than the standard notions of success that, more often than not, leave us feeling empty. Go for a success that is genuine, one that lasts this lifetime and trickles into the next. Dedicating time for the development of self and for peace of mind indicates just how important we are. When we claim, I am important, I love myself, I give to myself, I grant myself space to be still, I gift myself serenity, we are claiming a success that cannot be trapped in a box.

4. Strange

Society says success is having, it’s showing. It says there is one version of success and it is equal to the amount of wealth and power one has—they are inseparable. It’s saying, I’ve gained success and it can be observed, now show me yours. What about success doesn’t fit the mold? What about success isn’t predicated on money as we know it, but rather places value on different types of wealth? What about success is as personal as DNA? Can we give credit to these successes, please?

Strange success equals individual success, and nothing feels better than being authentic. Is your idea of success living off the grid or not spending any money for a year? Is your idea of success learning how to live waste free or taking garbage and turning it into gold? Is your idea of success traveling for a year without working, or working without wages for a worthy cause? Maybe your business endeavor is one of creative proportions. If you have visions of a success that has nothing to do with the commercial success of society, don’t be ashamed, don’t hide from it. Be proud, go for it, and know that the universe and others like you are behind you, supporting you, cheering you on. Whatever it is, don’t deny your version of success, no matter how bizarre, no matter how far-fetched. It’s possible and within your grasp. Start talking about it today, without abandon and with the mindset that it’s already yours.

5. Spiritual

Here is where the water gets deeper and the ether realer. What is ether but a calling, a life mission? And what does that mean for us? What is the ether that resides in each of us? When we can figure that out, well, by gods and goddesses, we’ve stumbled upon a success that has no measure yet, and that is the greatest form of wealth on the planet. No one can take it from us, not if we don’t let them, and it’s so unique to our filaments, our birth charts, our fingerprints that if encountered and followed, it’s like floating on air.


The forms of success that society sells must be eradicated for a less tangled form.


Success of a spiritual nature doesn’t have to be meditation or giving up all possessions. Not at all, although for some, this is exactly what it means. A spiritual success is one that feels true to the self that dangles from somewhere inside us, the being that’s back there waiting and watching, a little voice in the dark that guides us, a little voice that steers us toward our most authentic self should we be willing and able to listen. Spiritual success cannot be ignored any longer. The forms of success that society sells must be eradicated for a less tangled form. For success as they sell it to us is heavy, it’s a boulder on our backs, it’s a weight pressing down. When we find an ethereal success, we float, we fly, we become magic. And nothing is more magical than watching a human transcend and develop, without the help of capitalistic forces and based solely on a connection to self and the universe.

Related: The 4 Cornerstones of Success

Jacklyn Janeksela, MFA, is a freelance writer and a poet. Her online self, aka that writing life, can be found here. She works for Culture Designers, Thrillist, Honey Colony, among others; her poetry is tangled on the inter-webs. Her herbal alchemy meets astrology creative business can be found here. She explores self through poetry, planets and photography @ female filet.