Redefining Success To Live a Happier Life

In this post, author Ambika Sahni shares her perspectives on redefining success, approaching leadership with vulnerability, and infusing flexibility into growth and self-discovery.

I feel as if I’ve reached the pinnacle of personal success (as I thought of it in college). I have an exciting career that keeps me on my toes and has me constantly learning. I’m the mom of two amazing kids, and the wife to a supportive, equal partner that shares in our life, showering us with love and encouragement.

Evolving Definitions

As I reflect on my journey through life’s many stages, I find myself contemplating the ever-changing definition of success. In college, success seemed synonymous with academic achievements and career aspirations. However, as I navigated through my twenties and into my thirties, I realized that success is a multifaceted concept that evolves with time and experience. Our definitions of success change over time…even daily. What I viewed as success as a 20-year-old studying for the LSATs is slightly different from what I viewed as success at 25, and is vastly different from my current view of success. 

Humans Are Ever Changing

In my twenties, my idea of who I wanted to be when I grew up was predicated on a system that I naively thought would make me happy. Because that’s what we’re taught to believe in our twenties. If I had the title of Partner at (insert name of Big Law Firm) and lived in Quaint, Idyllic Town USA with two cars, a cute dog, and 401K, I’d be the epitome of first-generation American success. Don’t get me wrong, that thinking has gotten me far, and I credit it as the driver to ending up where I am and why I continue to grow personally and professionally. But human beings, in our very nature, are ever changing.

Finding Balance and Fulfillment

Life had different plans for me, and with each milestone, my definition of success underwent a transformation. I didn’t realize until I was pregnant with my first that my end goals had been evolving every few years. The goalpost kept moving. I thought that meant I was unhappy and striving for new “wins” and ways to be recognized. But thanks to a lot of introspection, I realized success is not solely defined by external accolades or material possessions. It’s about finding balance and fulfillment in various aspects of life—from nurturing meaningful relationships to prioritizing personal well-being. And it’s okay—and good—to constantly be redefining what your personal definition of success is.

As I grow older, success is being physically and mentally healthy so that I can be around for my kids’ lives. It’s showing up for my team at work and being a reliable and supportive leader. It’s being a loving and dedicated partner, sister, daughter, friend, and member of society. It isn’t promotions and titles and having the nicest house on the block in previously mentioned Quaint, Idyllic Town USA. 

Embracing Uniqueness

So here I am, at a few months shy of 38, writing about redefining success. And I undoubtedly know that at 40, my goalposts will have moved again. As I continue my journey of self-discovery and growth, I am committed to sharing my experiences with others, particularly women, who may be grappling with their own definitions of success. By fostering a culture of inclusivity and acceptance, we can empower individuals to embrace their uniqueness and forge their paths towards success, however they choose to define it.

A Vulnerable Approach to Leadership

One goal I hope to stick with and further lean into though, is sharing with women that there isn’t a one-sized-fits-all view of success. It’s not being the unattainable specimen that’s influencing on all the Socials. You know, the high-powered lean-in leader with flawless skin and families that always look perfectly put together. Oh, and not to mention having a vigorous daily fitness regime and a clean house that looks like it came out of a feature in Architectural Digest. All while being super involved in the PTA, of course. I want to continue to walk into the office being real about how difficult it was getting myself and the kids ready while my husband forgot his laptop and didn’t realize until an hour into his hour-and-a-half commute (yes, that’s happened, multiple times). But the win in that is showing my colleagues that it’s ok to be vulnerable and honest about how hard life is and no one has it figured out.

I recognize the privilege associated with being able to say my goals have changed as I’ve gone through life. It is much easier to say your focus isn’t on increased pay, career recognition or a nicer home when you’re living a generally comfortable life. And I’ve used that revelation in my leadership approach. 

Sharing Success with Others

I’ve had the privilege of witnessing moments of success that transcend traditional metrics of achievement. These include the overwhelming joy I felt when my daughter spoke a full sentence after months of speech therapy or when my very shy son started to find his voice and confidence in himself. The days (yes, I remember them vividly) members of my team accomplished something that they didn’t think they could do. The fulfilling coaching conversations I’ve had with mentees as they talk about their goals, and what I’ve learned from them. Being able to have grown up phone conversations with my parents and grandparents, acknowledging how difficult it must have been for them to be transplants in a new country raising first-generation kids. None of these successes have anything to do with “things,” but they all have everything to do with the success of others. 

Success is Not a Fixed Destination

At the risk of sounding cliché, most of those high engagement Instagram and TikTok posts detailing interviews with older people about keys to happiness and success in life detail non-material achievements and feelings. Success is not a fixed destination but a dynamic process of growth and self-discovery. It isn’t a catchy phrase or 10-step program either. Success is looking in the mirror and appreciating the person you are and the person you’re yet to become. By embracing change and staying true to our values, we can focus on redefining success on our own terms and inspire others to do the same.

Ambika Sahni is the Vice President of Advertising Partnerships at Comcast, bringing over 10 years of expertise in the Telecommunications and Media & Entertainment sectors. She is deeply committed to servant leadership and values the power of collaboration in achieving greater outcomes. Ambika resides in South Jersey with her loving husband, two children, and an adorable rescue pup.

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Hi, I’m Jessi

I created Habituelle Life and Leadership Coaching so that ambitious women can see that finding fulfillment in their personal and professional lives is possible. Redefining success in my own life has allowed me to help others do the same.

I’m here to support you in this journey of evolving identities, inner criticisms, and competing societal messages. We aren’t meant to do this life alone.