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Thoughts of what success means to you could be triggered by that colleague who got promoted ahead of you, that friend who travelled around the world, or that sibling who can do no wrong. Here's some data on how respondents feel on the topic.

There will be days when we enter a reflective state and question ourselves: Am I successful?

It could be triggered by that colleague who got promoted ahead of you, that friend who travelled around the world, or that sibling who can do no wrong in whatever he/she does. Depending on which point of life you're at, the answer (and the extent) to that, more often than not, varies. And the variation apparently, according to MyPerfectResume, doesn't end there.

Under the umbrella of success, there is what the analysts describe as 'professional' and 'private'. To Human Resources Online's understanding, 'professional' success very much comes from, and is for, work fulfilment, contribution to the community, and growth in areas of careers & hobbies. While 'private' success is more from and for oneself, and one's closest ones, where the growth of others results in growth of oneself.

Analysts discovered that nine in 10 respondents surveyed in the United States believe they "have been successful" in a professional sense. And what constitutes that success are:

  • Having a stable job (81%);
  • Receiving high earnings (80%);
  • Being an expert (in any field) (80%);
  • Doing socially useful work (i.e. helping others) (76%), and
  • Being famous (71%).

Since earnings is a subjective factor, dissecting the 'high earnings' numbers revealed that more than three in 10 (32%) respondents feel earning US$50,000 to US$100,000 per year is "successful". That said, there are others (16%) who believe earning less than US$50,000 per year is equally successful. Translating that to APAC currencies - with today's market standards - the range is at approximately S$70,000 to S$140,000 per year, RM$220,000 to RM$440,000 per year, and HK$390,000 to HK$785,000 per year.

Looking at the other side of spectrum, respondents who feel that as a whole they are "not successful" attributed to reasons such as "I didn't follow my passion in life, and now I work just to survive", "I make no money", and "I have failed to realise my potential".

With regard to 'private' success, analysts similarly discovered that nine in 10 respondents believe they "have been successful". And what constitutes that success are:

  • Being able to pursue dreams (83%);
  • Having a family (80%);
  • Having a purpose in life (79%);
  • Having an apartment (76%), and
  • Earning prestige and recognition from family and friends (75%)

Delving deeper into the figures, respondents aged 26-40 agreed "more strongly" with the aforementioned determinants. These are, according to the analysts, people who have been active workers for a while, and already have families. It is also noteworthy that they in fact "see how private happiness is indispensable for overall success in life".

As for those who feel otherwise, they shared reasons including "I don't have a family that supports my income. I feel like I am working for myself. There are no children to provide or care for. I have no romantic prospects at all", "I have not made the social connections", and "I feel like I haven't hit all my life goals yet, so I feel deficient in my private life".

If there's anything to takeaway from this story is this: success (just like purpose) is a social construct. You might not be as successful at your job as you wished for, but you could be a successful parent, partner, sibling, and child. However cliché it sounds, the team at HRO wants you to never let success define who you are, for comparisons are odious. More importantly, we are after all, our own success.

Also readMillennials & Gen Z vs Gen X & Baby Boomers: how different generations in Singapore view their career prospects


*Note: While this report covers the US, HRO believes the data remains relevant and insightful for our Asia-wide audience.

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