How Do You Measure Success?

Does money equal happiness? A new study by CareerBuilder, an online job search site, finds that equation isn’t necessarily always true.

“While compensation is definitely important, workers don’t necessarily equate success with hefty incomes,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources for CareerBuilder. “Often you’ll see intangibles such as the ability to make a difference, a sense of accomplishment and work/life balance eclipses the size of a paycheck in what matters most to workers.” —CareerBuilder

The study was conducted by Harris Interactive and included more than 5,700 American employees across a variety of industries. Here are some of the figures that were found:

  • 75% of respondents do not feel that they need to earn six figures to be successful.
  • 28% of respondents said that they would feel successful earning between $50k and $70k.
  • 23% of respondents said that they would feel successful earning less thank $50k.
  • 1 in 10 respondents said they need to make $150,000 or more to feel successful.
  • Men were twice as likely as women to say they would need to earn six figures to be successful.

Success, to me, is a combination of money and personal satisfaction—as I’m sure it is with many other freelancers. Of course I feel like I am doing a good job when I am bringing in money. It means I can help provide for my family, pay bills, take a vacation, and all that other good stuff that comes along with being paid. But success to me is more than money. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be a freelancer and run my own business.

Here are some other ways I measure success:

Personal Happiness

I have worked for some really horrible bosses where I dreaded getting up and going to work each day. One of my most recent full-time jobs was with a company that was slowly going out of business due to financial issues. We didn’t know when the company was going to cease to operate, and the date seemed to keep changing.

Needless to say, morale at this company was dreadful. I spent a good four months not knowing how much longer I would have a job. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was going to get paid. I was a stressed-out basket case. This experience was a driving force behind me moving into the freelance world more seriously.

Of course, I have my good days and my bad days—but someone else (like my former boss) doesn’t control my happiness. I am in charge of my work, which is still a little stressful at times, but overall brings me much peace and satisfaction.

Making my Own Schedule

If I’m not feeling well, I don’t have to call the office and ask if I can work a half day from home. I just do it. If my sister is in a pickle and needs someone to watch her girls for a couple of hours, I can gladly help out. If it’s a nice day and I want to spend the afternoon reading a book at the beach, it’s my call!

This doesn’t mean I’m not making up the time I took off to do these fun things, it just means that I can move some stuff around and not have to ask permission or feel guilty about it.

The down side is that I don’t get paid vacation or sick time—but the tradeoff is worth it to me. Plus, working as a freelancer, I don’t feel as though I need a vacation or a day off as much as I used to working for someone else.

No One Takes Advantage of Me

When I worked for the boss I mentioned above, I used to have to take on more and more responsibilities and projects without being compensated for them. I was hired to do one job, and by the time I left the company, I was doing at least three. I never felt that my salary adequately represented everything I was asked to do, which did absolutely nothing in terms of motivation.

Now, as a freelancer, I choose what projects to take on and have a say in how much I get paid. If something doesn’t seem worth it to me, I can say no. I can also ask to be paid what I am worth and negotiate with clients. This freedom makes me feel powerful and in control of my life—which is a really great feeling.

These are the three ways I measure success—I’d love to hear how you measure success for your own freelance business. Please leave a comment below.

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