"There are some who can live without wild things and some who cannot." (Aldo Leopold) Apparently, I cannot.

Success Is . . . My Letter to Arianna Huffington in Response to Her Search for a New Definition of Success


redefining success

Dear Ms. Huffington,

I was very excited to see news about the Huffington Post’s first-ever women’s conference, “The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power.” I was even more excited when I read your blog post yesterday asking for readers to join in on the conversation about redefining success.

As a mother, wife, and working woman, I often struggle with defining exactly this — what does it mean to be successful?Β And the reason I struggle is not because I don’t have a sense of what fulfills me or satisfies my heart. It is because these things are constantly changing.

Success one day, for example, means my three kids and I have managed to make it through the day with only 2 spilled drinks, 5 arguments over what to watch on tv, and 3 Phineas and Ferb Band-Aids (and maybe, just maybe, I was able to get a shower); success another day means I’ve made all of my work deadlines; success yet another day means my husband and I were able to share a dinner together and have an uninterrupted adult conversation.

All of this is to say that I don’t think you can have just one definition of success. (And by “you” throughout this letter, I’m referring to all of us — the “royal” you, so to speak.) Success is going to be defined differently by different people. And at different stages of their life. For me it’s akin to trying to define what makes a good parent — you can’t really. With so many differences in parenting styles — breast vs. bottle feeding, circumcision vs. no circumcision, co-sleeping vs. separate beds — the only thing that really matters at the end of the day is listening to your heart and doing what works best for you and your family.

If you impose a specific definition on things such as what makes a good parent or what it means to be successful, then, you’re going to have a lot of people trying to achieve something that may not work for them. And after struggling to fit themselves into a definition created by someone else, they will see themselves as failures.

Sadly, I feel like too many people see themselves as failures these days instead of realizing that they are doing the best they can. They are successful. They’re just not using the best metric by which to measure their success — themselves.

So for me, the definition of success is really the knowledge that there is no one definition of success. What it means to be successful changes from person to person. And within each person this definition can change from day to day, from minute to minute. And that’s ok. This realization, this knowledge, this is success.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my thoughts on such an important topic. I hope the conference is amazing, and I look forward to hearing about all of the great things that come from it.

All the best,


Author: Mamma Wild Thing

I'm a mamma to four little wild things and can't imagine life any other way. (Well, most days.)

26 thoughts on “Success Is . . . My Letter to Arianna Huffington in Response to Her Search for a New Definition of Success

  1. so well written and all so true. I would like to ask for your permission to reblog this.

  2. Looks good, lady!! I hope Ms. Huffington features it!

  3. Reblogged this on Fascinations of a Vanilla Housewife and commented:
    I have often asked myself if I have reached the success that I have been dreaming of since I learned how to want for myself. When I was younger I dreamt of becoming a pilot, not just any pilot, but the first Filipina pilot. That never came true (thank you financial incapacity and my incapability to understand mathematics), so somebody took the title and I went on with my life.
    After 8 years of marriage and 2 kids, I am now living my dream. Waffles, tears, love, diapers, potty, yelling, hugs, laughter, pots and pans. The whole nine yards. It can be a mess sometimes, a lot of times really if you think about it. And I love it all, good and bad.
    A struggling family in this third world part of the globe, some people might say that this family never knew success and it kinda brings you down sometimes. But when Mackenzie of Raising Wild Things wrote this on her blog, it touched me deeply and I realized, I am successful in my own little way
    Success has no international standards.
    Success is not measuring your life with the lives of other people, it’s how you live Your life. You are your own success.

  4. Thank you for this. It seems like parenting has become such an ultra-competitive sport, and as usual, I’m one of the last to be picked for a team. As long as you remember to hold true to yourself and your family’s agreed upon values, then that is a success, and as the world comes in and tells you that you are doing it all wrong, you will have the comfort provided by knowing that you are strong in your family.

  5. I feel successful when I am content. This may seem simple, and that’s because it is.

  6. Pingback: Lazy Sunday: Week in Review 6/2/13 |

  7. Wonderfully said, and completely true!

  8. i needed this today, especially after an awful, long night w/ one of my daughters last night and not handling it well. and beating myself up today… thank you. THANK YOU.

    • I think we need to remind ourselves of this every single day. The only people’s standards we need to live up to are our own. We need to stop beating ourselves up. YOU ARE A GREAT PARENT!! Remember that! πŸ™‚

  9. You’re so right. There is NEVER one definition of success especially for us moms.

  10. A versatile and fluid definition of success: YES! I love it. I needed to read your response to Ms. Huffington’s post. today, in this moment. I agree with how we often are so hard on ourselves because we do not meet the standard definition of success with in our own confines. There are days just getting out of the house is a level of success that was difficult for me to achieve. I love your post, and look forward to following your blog. Thankful I found your blog through the Honest Voices link-up.

    • I’m glad you found me, too. And thank you for your comment. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone in all of this. And absolutely — some days just getting out of bed is a success!

  11. Every day that I make it to the end, pour myself a glass of wine and can reflect on a day without too many issues? Success! And you’re right, those “issues” change daily.

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