Is Success a Destination?

Posted August 8, 2013 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

We’ve all heard the quote “Success is a journey, not a destination,” right? Sure you have. But something has always perplexed me about that quote. It seems to me that means you’re on a never ending walk to a never ending place. As if somehow you should celebrate the fact that you’re never actually going to get anywhere. And that’s not a motivational quote, is it? It’s incredibly depressing. If the truth about life, and your career, is that you’re walking on a bridge over a river that never gets to the other side, what reason do you have to continue?

Now that I’ve painted the bleakest possible picture about what was probably someone’s favorite quote, let’s look at the bright side. This weekend, I was a speaker at Go Blog Social in Kansas City, and I was excited to meet J from J’s Everyday Fashion, and spend some time with my friend Corri McFadden from Both of them talked in some way about the idea of success as a journey rather than a destination, and a few lessons emerged I want to share with you.

  • There are successes on the journey. Better than the “success is a journey” quote, I love that Corri said her career has been a “series of successes.” You have one success, then a failure, then another success. But even when you have a success, you aren’t done. Instead, you start looking for another success ahead of you. So it’s not that the journey is the key all of the time. Sometimes, the series of successes is the most important part.
  • Sure, success is a journey, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop to celebrate the successes you’ll find along the way. Celebrating your successes is inherent to how successful you will continue to be. If you do something great and then downplay and forget about it, how will you ever top yourself? You have to admit that the things you’ve done are incredible to get better and go farther in your journey.
  • No one is perfect, and no one’s life is greater than someone else’s. It’s easy to look at our peers (or mentors) in our field, and think, “I’m never going to be that (fill in the blank here).” Someone will always seemingly be farther down the journey to success than you are, further in her career, and more successful. But the truth is, you don’t know that person. You don’t know her challenges and struggles, you don’t know her deepest longings and fears. No one has a perfect life. Your successes cannot be measured against another’s.

So stop relying on the success, but also…stop relying on this far off notion of a “journey” too. Take life, success and failure, day to day. That’s where the real truth and the real excitement comes out.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."