“There is only one definition of success — to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this definition of success? Support your position by using reasons and examples from your reading, your own experience, or your observation of others.

The speaker here defines success simply as the ability to choose how to spend one’s life. Under this definition, people who have the freedom to do whatever they want at any time they choose would presumably be the most successful ones, while those who have no such freedom would be the biggest failures. Viewing the definition in this light reveals three serious problems with it.

The chief problem with this definition of success is that by the definition nearly all people would be regarded as failures. The reason for this is simple. Most people have extremely limited choices in what they can do and when they can do it. In other words, unrestricted freedom of choice is a luxury only a few people—perhaps a handful of tyrannical dictators and ultra-wealthy individuals—can afford.

Secondly, people who have a high degree of freedom in choosing their lifestyle often acquire it through means that would not earn them the accolade of being successful. For example, lottery winners or people who inherit a great deal of money may be able to spend their life in any way they choose, but few people would regard them as successful merely due to their financial fortune.

A third reason this definition of success is unacceptable is that it repudiates some of our basic intuitions about success. For most people, success is related to achievement. The more you achieve, the more successful you are; conversely, the less you achieve the less successful you are. Defining success in terms of freedom of choice ignores this intuition.

In sum, the proposed definition of success is far too limiting, and it belies our intuition about the concept. I think that most people would agree with me that success is better defined in terms of the attainment of goals.

Peer Review: on a scale of 1-6, how would you rate this essay? Please post your ratings in the comments below!

Leave a Reply