That's all fine -- it's part of the journey. But during the process, you can make some big mistakes, particularly when watching people that you deem successful. That's because the real core of success is invisible.
Too often, we all get taken by looking at external signs of success. Someone seems to live a wealthy and luxurious lifestyle. Perhaps the person has a family that seems happy and attractive. Maybe there is a separate room in a house to hold all awards and accolades. But don't we all know people who fit into that picture and yet seem miserable?
Success doesn't happen externally any more than happiness. Something might be a sign of success or instead be evidence of an accompaniment to that success. Or perhaps the person isn't really successful and all the externals fool those who watch.
Success is a matter of fulfilling a personal goal, not someone else's expectations. Suppose for a moment that someone wanted to be a fine artist but became discouraged, went into business, and did well. You'd see that man or woman from the outside, assume success, and miss that real success -- meeting that personal goal -- had never happened.
Or, instead, say that the person did want to be wealthy and was, but didn't show it through spending. You might think from the outside, given a popular association between success and wealth, that the person wasn't successful when, in actuality, you really saw the exact type of success society touts. You've mistakenly assumed that having wealth is the same as displaying it. You've fallen for the visible trappings rather than the internal reality.
Most of us have a collection of goals, whether for income, type of work we do, family, education, or what have you. Those goals may conflict or even be incompatible. You may need to make tradeoffs between them or might even find that some are incompatible.
That doesn't mean you're unsuccessful. Instead, recognize there are many types of success for you, decide which are most important, and then structure your life to go after those top goals.
Because success is an internal matter, it requires self-knowledge and reflection on your part. It's not enough to fulfill another's definition of success. If you do, then you always have a hollow feeling that something isn't quite right, that you're still not satisfied.
There are, sadly, many people who fall into that category. Whatever shows on the outside, on the inside they might as well be Willie Loman, the tragic figure in Arthur Miller's great play, Death of a Salesman, who died disillusioned as he kept trying to make the big score but who was a "happy man with a batch of cement" when doing something useful with his hands.
If you truly want to be successful, spend time with yourself. Look at what is most important to you, based on where you'd rather spend your time. See what makes you content and leaves you with the feeling of having accomplished something. Maybe you'll want to become a billionaire, or maybe you'll be happier with a batch of cement. Just recognize that real success comes from being true to yourself.