Do You Know What Success Looks Like?

Having a goal is important but what is more important is knowing what success looks like. Without that knowledge, you don't know what you really want.

There are many pieces to becoming successful in anything; however, having a vision is probably the most important piece. Without a clear vision, you don't know what you are working towards or what the success would or should look like, and whether it is something you really want.

Vision is what allows us to manifest success in our own minds before it can be worked-on in a material form.

I have always had a very good imagination, maybe the result of countless story books I read as a child. Each book sent me to a new place or world, and I could see and feel everything that was happening in the story as if I was part of it. Sometimes, I would even change the story a bit if I didn't like something or if I wanted the ending to be different. I would then replay the entire story like a movie in my head but with my own changes. As a kid, it was my only way to change the world around me into whatever I wanted or needed, but all in my own mind.

As an adult, I like to visualize success in my mind and then work backwards to build or find the missing pieces. It is like solving a picture puzzle where the completed picture is on the box cover and you know what the end result would look like but you just have to find the right pieces and put them in the correct order for the picture to complete.

I would see and feel the complete picture of success in my mind. It would help me stay focused towards my goal and motivated me as I would get closer and closer to it one step at a time. I applied this approach in my career as well. Whenever, I worked on a new project, I would visualize what the end product or solution would look like, and then would draw out a path for getting to it while identifying all the steps to reach my end goal.

Throughout my engineering career, I had imagined that I would make myself very valuable to my employer by learning and broadening my technical expertise across many different areas. Having broader experience and knowledge allowed me to become more valuable to the company and also allowed me to stay ahead of technology obsolescence.

Despite all the success at work, I had imagined, I would keep a humble existence both at work and in my personal life while following the principles of stealth competence and stealth wealth. There are many benefits of following these two principles as they allowed me to keep my ego in check while focusing on working hard to accomplish my goals - more about this in a later blog.

I had imagined that by the age of 40, I would have a big enough net worth to own and manage a large portfolio of investments which will make me financially independent and allow me to retire early or work only if I choose to. I had imagined, I am smart enough to not let some financial or investment company take advantage of me by charging me thousands of dollars in fees, instead I would learn to invest myself and become competent enough to do my own valuation analysis on companies; thus becoming a self-made Intelligent Enterprising Investor (as Ben Graham calls it).

In my personal life, I visualized becoming financially independent and retiring early. I used to imagine the day when I would not need to get up in the morning to go to work or worry about layoffs. I would be completely free to do whatever my heart desires. I had imagined that I would work on all the fun stuff that I have been longing to do for so long, but haven't had the time or energy. I would be like Kermit the frog having fun :)

I regularly visualize a better me who is physically active, happy, and healthy. I use visualization to help me stay on the path that I have set for myself to stay healthy and eat healthy. It helps me see every little progress that I am making towards reaching that end goal.

That's not me, but getting close :)
I could see and visualize all these successes before I actually accomplished them. I used the power of imagination to manifest those visualizations into real material successes. It is not magic, but rather an ability to program your own brain to think and do things that will be in-alignment to whatever goals you have set for yourself.

Our brain is like a limitless emulator or an imagination machine. It can emulate or imagine anything, even things that are not real or currently seem impossible in a material sense. It allows us to think beyond our current physical capabilities and limitations. All these technological advancements wouldn't be possible if we didn't have imagination to look beyond our current capabilities and limitations.

Ability to visualize success can help you with planning and execution for your goals and can remove self-imposed limitations and fear of failure. Without knowing what success looks like, is like going on a journey not knowing your destination. So do yourself a favor and use your imagination and create that perfect success that you have always wanted, and then plan and execute to make it a reality.


  1. This is very true. Sometimes, it's hard for me to visualize success because I don't know what the success looks like. It's something that I haven't achieved or haven't had anyone in my family achieve it (financial independence for example).

    However, reading personal finance blogs who HAVE already achieved it allowed me to put myself in their shoes and imagine how life is going to be like if I am able to achieve financial independence. Taking it one day at a time!

  2. Yes, you can get an idea by looking at others; however, success is relative. What is success to someone may not be a success to you. Success would be tied to your own goals that you set in your life and not because what someone else thinks success should look like.

    Regarding financial independence (FI), I believe it is relatively easier to visualize success as it is simply a state when you have the freedom to not have to work for money or a paycheck. So, just imagine you get up every morning and you don't have to report to work. Or if you still want to work, you can imagine getting a job totally based on your interests and without any fear of failure or rejection or layoffs. Your motivation for work changes with FI.

    If I have to describe FI in one word, it would be 'Freedom'. Hard part is what to do with that freedom and free time, but that is beyond FI.

  3. I do agree with most of your points, but am curious why you set what most would agree is just a realistic goals as your imagination. Is it because you were an engineer and so just super logical in your thought process? Most people dream of reaching some ultimate pinnacle and have grandiose imagination such as becoming the President, winning the super lotto, becoming the next billionaire, etc. Of course these thoughts are just dreams and majority will never even come close to achieving them and at point become content with making a decent living, fulfilling work, having a happy family, and having disposable income to partake in entertainment activities.

  4. I don't have grandiose imagination about unrealistic goals; instead I just use imagination/visualization to think in real-time. I don’t believe it has to do with my being an engineer either; though, it sure helped in my job.

    Visualization would help me create a picture in my head of how something is supposed to work or look like before it becomes real. I guess some people are more visual thinker than others.

  5. When I was playing baseball and was a pitcher I use to visualize pitching to the opposing teams lineup and would imagine success. It was remarkable that oftentimes would I visualized would come true. I haven't done it since high school but I definitely should get back into it. Thanks for sharing!!!


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