There are many ways to define success and as many pathways to achieve it, but when you look at the lives of successful people around the world, several patterns emerge. Health, financial security, independence, and lifelong learning are the keys to success by any measure. Learn more about these pathways to start your own journey to a better life.

Health and Fitness

Being healthy means you have the energy and ability to accomplish the activities that make your life meaningful. Current research shows increasing your fitness in your younger years will increase the quality of both mental and physical health in old age, so it’s worth investing in health even if your body feels fine right now.

Many people think of fitness as being the same as weight, and there is plenty of evidence that being overweight can complicate overall health and raise the risk of life-altering problems like heart disease and diabetes. Lowering and maintaining your weight is a life-long process. However, there are many ways to make your life healthier through fitness that aren’t linked to the scale.

Daily exercise, even if it’s only low impact walking or yoga, increases happiness and improves long-term health outcomes. Getting more active each day helps you feel good and actually increases your energy for other tasks. Eating healthier food is another small change that can pay off big.

People who eat more unprocessed fruits and veggies each day lower their risk for cancer, colon problems, and heart disease. Mental health matters too: being more mindful about happy moments, successes and strengths each day can bring meaning and satisfaction to your life and actually decreases overall stress levels and increases the body’s immune response, helping you ward off illness.

Financial Security

While it’s true money can’t buy you happiness, it is also true that earning at least $75,000 per year increases your life satisfaction by a significant amount. This is the ballpark figure economists have discovered allows the average person to spend time doing things they enjoy without worrying about making ends meet.

A lack of financial security isn’t just about a lack of fun money for travel and restaurants: all that worrying and time spent focusing on how to meet basic financial needs takes a toll on your health too. The American Psychological Association reports that high financial stress is associated with heart attacks, depression, and even decreased cognitive performance.

Whether you are currently just getting by or have solid savings, everyone can make changes to improve their financial picture immediately. Start by prioritizing your finances as soon as possible: don’t put it aside just because it’s boring or stressful to face.

Make a budget that includes paying down debt and increasing savings. Treat a few quality of life items as required expenses: the goal is to have your finances support the life you want, not to wait until you have saved enough to enjoy life.


Being able to follow your interests, find work-life balance, and set your own goals gives most people a deep sense of satisfaction in life. Certainly, achieving financial security can help you work and play the way you choose without the burden of debt, but career choices can also play a major role in helping you achieve independence.

Many careers such as nursing, accounting, or sales may allow you to tap into your interests, but the schedules, pay, and types of tasks tend to be very set and follow the schedule or goals of patients, clients, and businesses. Over time, this leads to stress and the frustration of not reaching your personal goals.

If you need to more independence in your life, consider looking at careers where you can play a bigger role in shaping your time, such as real estate or consulting. These kinds of professions usually have a great deal of flexibility in how much and where you work. If you want to earn a higher paycheck, you can take on more clients and work more days.

If you need to focus on family and health, or simply want to travel, you can decrease your workload to accommodate those desires. Real estate agents report being the happiest of all employees, in part because they are more than satisfied with the control they have over their day to day work.  The requirements aren’t extensive, and courses like Success Path can introduce you to the field and get you started.

Lifelong Learning

Education can help us achieve our goals as we’re starting out in the world, but learning shouldn’t stop in adulthood. Acquiring new knowledge throughout life is tied to mental and physical health in several ways.

Learning a new skill, such as dancing or gardening, provides opportunities to keep your body active and fit at any age. Seeking out new experiences also broadens your social relationships, a key indicator of satisfaction and happiness in older age.

Finally, learning new things literally protects your brain and lengthens your life. In research studies, older adults who continue to stay mentally active by taking courses or learning a new language dramatically decreased their risk of dementia and were twice as likely to outlive those who did not.

A successful life looks different to everyone, but anyone can take steps today to start a path toward healthy, independent living. Prioritizing these factors in your daily choices will add up to a life well lived, with greater satisfaction and happiness.

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