According to the late, great American inventor Thomas Edison, success is “1% inspiration and 99% perspiration” and this is a man who invented the electric lightbulb and the motion picture camera, amongst many other complex things. So he knew something about accomplishment.
But what does success mean to us? Some might think success is about money, cars and houses? But is this actually the case?
We decided to find out for ourselves.
We asked 2,000* people what their definition of success is and discovered that we are indeed still a driven nation, and that, for the majority of us, it’s not all about money.
Our research suggests that age and geographical location are two of the biggest factors that impact the way we define success.
Change in priorities
It will come as little surprise that for those of us aged 18-24, education is the top priority as far as success is concerned, with 62% of us deeming this as very important; closely followed by career at 60%.
As we get a little older the focus shifts more towards those around us and quality of life. With 61% of 25-34 year olds saying that having a successful relationship with a partner is their number-one priority, closely followed by a good work/life balance coming second at 51%.
While 58% of 35-44 year olds feel that putting time and effort into their love life is very important and the real measure of success, 49% also agree that focusing on relationships with their family and friends is important too.
It seems that with maturity comes responsibility and as we grow older and a little wiser, we become more aware of the importance of taking care of ourselves. Our survey revealed that 60% of 45-54 year olds admit health and fitness is a very important factor when it comes to success. This was a top focus for even more of those in the 55 plus age group (70%).
The geography of success
Interestingly, it seems that as well as age, location can determine your priorities with regards to success. In London, education comes out on top with 48%. However, up in the North East, it is all about a career for 36% of people.
For the people of Yorkshire, it seems success is measured more by love than hard graft, with 61% rating their relationship with a long-term partner as very important. They aren’t quite as passionate about this as the Northern Irish, however with a massive 72% putting romance at the top of their list.
Work to live
The survey also highlights that not one age demographic cited their career as the number-one barometer of success, suggesting we work to live, rather than live to work.
However, as a nation, we do appear to have a clear vision of how to measure success in the workplace with 52% of us naming job security as the most important element of a successful career.
The saying goes that once you find a job you love, you’ll never do another days work in your life – 49% of us agree, declaring loving your job is key. Working for an organisation with good values is third on the list of career priorities for 36% of us.
When it comes to lifetime goals, 35% of us believe our greatest achievement in life is to succeed as a parent – more so than any other factor. Second on the list is well-being with 27% of us striving to succeed more in health and fitness, with 19% stating this is their current priority.
So, it would seem that good old-fashioned health, family, love and happiness are what we hold dearest, rather than wealth and personal possessions.
*Based on a survey of 2,000 people in the UK. The survey was conducted by OnePoll in July 2016 on behalf of first direct.