How Americans Define Success
by Dr Georgianna Donadio
- Most of us want to be a success in our lives. But when we look closely at how Americans define personal fulfillment and success, the results will be surprising.
American Express conducted and published a study called “The Life Twist Study,” examining what Americans believe are the most important and valuable aspects of their lives. The study, based on a survey of more than 2,000 Americans, shows that only one in four Americans still believe that wealth determines success.
The outcomes show that an impressive 73 percent, close to three of four people questioned, did not identify wealth as the most important measure of success. This is a startling statistic, considering that, according to a CNN.com article. It appears now that more of us are identifying happiness and success in ways that do not target wealth or income as a focus or goal. Self-care and our whole health are becoming
more obviously important that money we have.
The outcomes of the study are a bit of a surprise, given our uniquely American obsession with material wealth and accumulation. The top five items identified as most important for an individual’s success include:
∙ 85 percent of respondents said that health was most essential to success.
∙ 83 percent stated that having a good relationship or marriage is critical to a successful life.
∙ 81 percent said that having good financial management (which is not wealth per se) is extremely important for success.
∙ 81 percent believed in the importance of having a good life-work balance.
∙ 79 percent (more than three of four subjects) specified that having a job or career you love is essential.
Areas of Agreement
The most agreed-upon element for success, in which 94 percent of the participants agreed, was that being open to change (flexibility and adaptability) is a key component for personal success.
Another very interesting finding stated in the “The Life Twist Study”:
“Dozens of the survey’s findings reflect a new American notion of success, but perhaps none more starkly than the sentiment that Americans ranked ‘having a lot of money’ 20th on a list of 22 possible contributors to having a successful life. This sentiment mirrors the steadily rising trend… that Americans are increasingly placing greater priority on living a fulfilling life — in which being wealthy is not the most significant factor.”
The study offers that what is likely responsible for the significant shifts from previous studies on this subject: Our downward economy and high levels of unemployment have had more than just financial impacts. They are contributing to changes in attitudes regarding wealth and success.
The study also reports that 43 percent of Americans say they experienced a financial setback. However, more than 50 percent of the surveyed stated that their experiences have helped them identify what is really important in their life. In addition, 42 percent of the participants say that going through adversity has opened them up to new experiences.