What does it mean to be successful? A high-powered job? Bags of money? A fancy house and expensive sports car? Living up to the expectations others have for you?
To me, success is far more personal than any of these things. Success is about living the life you want to lead, and therefore it goes hand in hand with happiness. Money and power may be the keys to success for some people, but for others it could be having a family or doing a job they love. I believe that the saying "money can't buy you happiness" is very true. Having money can make your life easier, as you have fewer worries and the freedom to do what you enjoy, but this doesn't guarantee happiness or success. We all have different goals and dreams for ourselves, so we cannot ascribe one definition to the term 'successful', and many people can live lives that they feel are successful without bags of cash.
Many people also confuse their own definitions of success with those of others. Society has constructed an image of a successful person based largely around careers; someone who has a high position and makes plenty of money, and has some degree of recognition, if not fame. Images of business suits often pop into my head when the term is used. Often we feel we are successful if our parents think we are, fulfilling the dreams that they have for us. But it's important to remember whose life it is that you are living; yours. We shouldn't feel obliged to live up to the expectations society, or anyone else, has for us. We need to figure out what we want in life, in order to feel that we have been successful ourselves, regardless of others' opinions. This is by no means easy for everybody, especially if your dreams aren't supported by others, or you feel that you will be disappointing them, but it will be worth it in the long run once you find happiness.
People can achieve success within a small area or field as well. Maybe you don't have worldwide fame, but you are a well-known face in your own town. Maybe you excel in your chosen field of work, even if it's not going to make you incredibly famous. And success doesn't just happen overnight. It involves hard work and dedication to making your life as good as it can possibly be. We have to measure our success in small milestones, building up to our biggest dreams. A solo art show, or an article published in a magazine, are achievements to be celebrated, and act as stepping stones to something bigger. We have to have patience and perseverance in life, and be realistic about what we are setting out to do, but at the same time, don't be afraid to dream big. Figure out what you need to be happy, really and truly happy - not just settling for content. Reach beyond what you thought you were capable of and you might surprise yourself.
Life is messy and complicated and difficult, so don't make it harder for yourself by compromising on the things you really want. You are the only person who can decide whether or not your life is a successful one, based on your own goals and desires. Dream big and work hard, and one day you'll find what you want out of life.