The ability to share information and experiences is one of the pillars the Internet was built upon upon. But this ability also leads to a misleading perception at times.

I recently had lunch with a new acquaintance, Justin Jackson. Our streams overlap somewhat, in terms of who we follow on Twitter. It was a comment that Justin made that reinforced for me the fact that how we measure success is important.

We discussed a mutual acquaintance, someone who has achieved a significant amount of online success. This success had been in terms of exposure and attention, which is great. However, neither attention or exposure has resulted in financial success for this individual. Upon hearing this, I had to chuckle, realizing I had once again fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others.

And while I recognize it’s best to focus on our own craft, the reality is that comparing ourselves or our work to others is inevitable. So when that happens, we should have a clear vision of what we consider success.

Twitter followers and email subscribers may be considered a success for some, but for this provider of a family of 8, a project has to result in income. That might sound greedy, but in reality it’s not about getting more and more, it's simply a fact that time is limited and any work related endeavour must have the potential for income at this stage in my life.

Why care about how we measure success? Because seeing others have success in attention can cause us to question our own approaches and consider following the example set before us. If you're going to do that, you want to be sure that the person(s) you model yourself after, or the strategies or techniques that you adopt, will result in the type of success you seek.

With that in mind, here's how yours truly defines success for a project:

  • the purpose or content of the project is a benefit to others
  • it results in income, and requires no future responsibility that does not result in income
  • it requires a growth in my skills and knowledge
  • I have fun while working on and launching the project

While I've used the term “project” here, you can take this list and apply it to anything you do. Whether I'm writing a blog post or launching an online business, I try to keep this ideals in mind.

How do you measure success? Let me know, I'd love to hear your thoughts.