Defining Success During A Pandemic

When someone asks what it means to be successful, the same words come up often. Wealth, fame, finding love, living a comfortable life. There so many seemingly obvious answers to this question, and sometimes it seems objective in the way we define success. Whether or not you agree with these answers (personally, I don’t), that definition isn’t relevant right now – and we need to get used to that for the time being.

How Are We Defining Success?

As I’ve grown as a person and mental health advocate, the definition of success has continued to be more and more subjective. Everyone has their own unique stories, and we all live with challenges to contend with and obstacles to overcome. Sometimes it’s on a daily basis; other times it takes years. Short-term or long-term, a broad definition of success is when we overcome those obstacles.

For those in the mental health community, sometimes the obstacle is to make it to the next day, hour, or minute despite living with illnesses or disorders that can be extremely debilitating at times. That approach has been something I’ve turned to often when going through a bout of depression or anxiety, but now I feel like it could be helpful for a larger community as many people are struggling with what it means to be successful while living through a pandemic.

What It Means to Be Productive

I don’t know where all of my readers are around the world but personally, I’ve been working from home since mid-March – so it’s been a while since I’ve been out and about. I’d also guess that most of us have been home since then, and that amount of time takes its toll on anyone, regardless of your level of mental, physical or emotional wellness.  One of the byproducts of that toll is that a lot of people feel they haven’t been productive or successful despite having all that time at home.

It doesn’t help that we’re being hawked by people and companies spouting products and services that are said to lead us out of stay-at-home orders in a better state than we went in (if I have to see another LinkedIn post about ‘being the best you’ while working from home, I’ll kick something). We’re told to make sure we don’t put on the ‘Quarantine 15,’ to make sure we don’t get in a rut by doing the same thing every day and to avoid the news so we can focus on what it takes to be successful. But who’s defining that success?

You’re Successful Somehow

The bars for success aren’t higher or lower now than it used to be; they’re just different. They’re different in the same way that my version of success looks different than yours. And it’s up to you – no one else. People might say otherwise, but that’s the way it’s always been, and it’s more obvious now than ever before. It might not feel like it, but right now success is like gratitude – we might be taking those successes for granted. For me? I’m healthy. I’m safe. And the people I care about are doing their absolute best to stay healthy and safe too. I would say that’s success, and I don’t care if you disagree.

What’s a success you’ve had in the past month? Whether it’s getting out of bed, not giving in to negative thoughts or even putting on a fresh pair of sweatpants, I want to hear about it and celebrate it! Hit me up in the comments. 

TS Eliot


2 thoughts on “Defining Success During A Pandemic

  1. May 1, 2020 / 5:10 am

    The sun’s out here in the UK and I’ve been able to spend time with my step-daughter and our gorgeous grandchildren. We’re self-isolating in the garden lol 🙂


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