I once read a quote by Dr Dawn-Joy Leong, a researcher, artist, and advocate. She said:
“Success means different things to different people. For some, just getting out of bed in the morning, or managing a small gesture of self-care, are already triumphant successes.”
That stuck with me for a really long time. When we talk about success, a lot of us can be a little one-track minded about it. We set financial goals, intentions to have a certain title to our names by a certain age, and a list of status symbols to own. Which is absolutely fine—it’s your life and your own rules.
But we sometimes forget that success can look very different for different people. Take the CLEO Change Makers of 2019. The eight women featured are all amazing, inspiring, and successful in their own right—and yet each of their definitions of success are very different.
For Miki, success is being able to introduce and establish Aesthetic Group Gymnastics as a sport in Singapore. For Raeesah, success means being able to help refugee women and children. For Farhanna, success is being the first Singapore woman to deadlift three times her body weight (wew). For Kimberly, an urban farmer, success looks like sustainable living and development—not just for herself, but for entire communities.
So here’s a gentle reminder for when you’re setting these goals: don’t forget to think about the really big picture. What excites you? What fulfils you? What’s important to you? What gives you purpose?
And while you’re at it, consider if these goals ultimately serve you. For Dr Dawn-Joy, “The ultimate success would be to pursue passions not according to the measurements of [what is regarded as ‘normal’], but according to intrinsic autistic functionality. It would be to find your ‘self’ and to be accepting and respectful of it.” So be kind to yourself. You have time to figure this out.
Sounds daunting? Don’t worry, CLEO is here to help you with this! Along with our coverage of our Change Makers, we’re also curating a list of stories to help you become a Successful Adult ™. Just click on the links below.
P.S: Check back here again for tips on how to answer common interview questions, five ways to make your money work harder and if having an updated LinkedIn profile actually matters when you’re looking for a new job.