Is it bad that I’m not successful at age of 21?

I have a lot of opinion to share:

  1. It depends on your definition of success. I would say that nobody is successful at 21, even if they’re rich.

I saw in other questions that you have asked that you are interested in philosophy and art. In your case, you will likely never feel successful, but this is a good thing. When we feel that we have succeeded, at life, we have little motivation to push on, still working hard. Success will literally destroy your life while motivation will enrich it. Think of every young musician and artist – once they feel they have become ‘successful’ their lives unravel into substance abuse, likely because they are left feeling, “I am successful and only 21 – now what?”

Our motivation to act comes from unmet needs. We feel best when we are motivated. We work harder and tirelessly when we are motivated. We seek to better ourselves when motivated. Don’t seek success, seek challenges and opportunity. Seek growth. Seek meaning. Seek.

The visible successful people, such as celebrities and the mega rich, that keep working hard, do so because they find some aspect of their lives that they are not successful at, such as religion, philanthropy, or raising a family, etc. We need to feel unsuccessful to have motivation. And we need motivation to stave off depression.

  • I would say that the main and probably only reason why one would feel unsuccessful at 21 revolves around judgment of others. In my opinion this one word is the problem for everyone but in particular at age 21 most people have begun to become vastly different from where they were at 18. By this time you might be nearing the end of college, married with a family, or even in trouble due to mistakes that “adults” make. I would say that it’s probably very unlikely for a 21 year old to admit that they feel successful because no matter where they are in life, there is likely something that they either want and/or are pursuing in which case they will feel inadequate.

Success in my opinion is relative, we all can define it differently. I attribute success to happiness in life so therefore I would still would say most 21 year old people would not feel successful. Unfortunately most will not be happy when they don’t have the things that they want whether it be more money, approval of others, or material things. If you can learn to appreciate the little things, to be grateful for the opportunity life presents then you will find that life will tend to work more in your favor, at least in my opinion. The 21 year Old’s that I have known that were successful were not only happy but had good relationships, even if they didn’t have money you would have thought they did and if they didn’t they still were happy.

  • Think for a second about your question, what kind of question is that? Is it bad that my cup of coffee isn´t full by the time I’m brewing it? Is it ok that the meat is still raw before I put it on the grill?

You are JUST 21, if you have an average life of 70+ years you still have 50 years, what is successful? What about seeing your children going to college or your grandchildren getting married, have that family you ever dream of and being healthy enough to enjoy them? Of course you won’t be successful when you probably still growing taller.

Exceptions are the ones on the news, the ones you hear about, for most people 21 is just another year at unit in where they are learning, studying, or working. Just keep going, keep learning, keep your eyes open for opportunities, maybe save some money and move to a new city to look for a new chance of life. on my younger years I saw myself doing business with Chinese’s, I am doing that now but I don’t see myself as a successful person, now I am far from home and less leisure time than before, so It’s just the way you see things, maybe my friends thinks as myself as a successful guy.

2. The quick answer: No.

You define what success means for yourself. Success doesn’t mean doing what anyone else is doing or having what others have. It all depends on what you think and truly want for your life.

Success to someone may mean living in a tiny home and teaching people about sustainable living. Success to someone else may mean having 1 million dollars and living in a mansion.

In addition, I would urge against using age as a benchmark. Flow naturally with the course of life as so many things are outside of your control. It may take years to live the life you want, or it may take months. Regardless, I would find a way so that success isn’t in some unknown future. So you can be fully in control of achieving success. I like to think of it as, if I can configure my days right now to fit with my definition of success, it’s a win.

This reminds me of Stoic philosopher, Seneca’s quote: “The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” Find a way so that success is completely in your power to create.

  • This question should require some serious thinking on your part. First, what do you mean by “success”? How do you define that word for yourself and your life? Is it financial success only? How about social success – is it that? Is it romantic success, or maybe just friendship success? These are important questions for you to answer about YOUR OWN life. What does success MEAN to you? You say you’re not there yet, at the age of 21! So, I guess you expected some proof of success by that age? How about beginning to define success as the way you think of yourself – not the arrogance of “pretended” success, but the real personal pride in what you have been able to do, say, achieve, learn, guide, protect, anticipate, in your life and that of others who you may be able to help? 21 is ‘WAY too early to begin any final analysis of success, but you can begin to notice where you feel you are making progress and where you are not – that would be a good beginning!

3. “Success “is a journey not a destination. No it is not bad. Perhaps you are a success anyway. You are aspiring, that takes time. Perhaps you are just now beginning to see your potential.

In any accomplishment there is always more. We do not ride along as a hero or a success and then be done. We go on. Hero to zero happens fast. Another day happens.

I concluded so far- Success is when you have no regrets or at least feel things we do was a good idea at the time and we live with that. If that is a principle we try to adhere to. And we can try and endure that and what all comes in our paths as well. Every learning experience is a success. One after another. Figuring out how to endure well through these ups and downs is a trip we are all here to take and learn from in hopes to be a success through life and to become the best in our Individual capabilities. I believe we are all needed in this world. No matter how insignificant some want to say others are. Without the brick layers there would be no buildings.

  • You first need to define what success means to you. When I am talking about success, I am talking about YOUR definition of success, NOT others (family, friends, super stars etc.) definition of success. So you need to dig deep to identify what brings you fulfillment, joy & what resonates with you, as an individual with the core values, beliefs that you have.

Is it graduating with a certain grade? Is it being a good son/daughter? Is it having a car? Is it having a girlfriend/boyfriend? Is it having a specific job? Is it having a specific amount of money? Is it traveling 3 times a year? Is it opening a business? Is it helping other people? Is it finding love? Is it having children?

Define what success means to you.

  • Find the steps that you need to take that will lead you towards the success you want. & Estimate how much time it will take after identifying the steps you need to take. We tend to OVER estimate what we can do in 1 year and UNDER estimate what we can do in 10 years.
  • You need to accept and be grateful for where you are NOW and work towards your future with the steps you need to take. If you don’t give up no matter what, you will get to YOUR success.

I am 35 and I am starting over. What’s important is what feels real to us, not the illusion of others.

You are already in front, just see what you need to do and go where you need to go that resonates with who YOU are.

4. It’s natural to feel this way at that age, but it’s a trick of the mind. The sooner you let go of the idea of ‘success’ the sooner you actually start the path to success.

Success has many definitions, and they change as you get older. However if you are referring to being top in a field, then know that it will take time. People that are successful at 21 often started when they were kids, and already have close to, if not a decade of experience by the time they are successful.

If you have a path you have committed to, just be patient and keep plugging away. However patient does not mean complacent. You have to make sure you are improving constantly, and time and consistency doesn’t matter if you are not stretching your ability.

If you aren’t so fortunate as to know what path to commit to, here are a few things you can focus on instead:

  • Finding out about yourself – understand your own personality, your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions and your hates. Really take the time to get to know yourself so that you can make decisions that are good for you and not what others/society thinks are good.
  • Get good at something – Success is a byproduct of being good at something, but getting good at something takes a long time and consistent effort. So, you can really only get good at things you are willing to do for a long time consistently. Therefore, it is important to know yourself well (#1) when choosing a path. Pursue the things that you wouldn’t mind doing for 10+ years, because anything less will be difficult to stick with long enough to succeed.
  • Explore, before you commit to something, take the time in your early years to try lots of things. This is related to (#1) because there are things in the world that you may be built for and absolutely fall in love with, but you may never find it if you don’t explore. Anything that piques your interest, give it a go. You will find that something’s sounded great but you hate doing, some things you thought you would hate but actually love, and if you are lucky, you might find the thing that God put you on this earth to do.

5. Define successful. Seriously. There are so many ways to be successful and I will bet you have got a few of them already:

  • Health. If you are healthy you are successful right now. There are sick and dying children in the world right now and you have lived 21 years, that’s more than some.
  • Youth. You can’t buy time, you can’t buy back your youth. You will only be 21 once. You don’t even leave puberty until 25. You have got time. Every year you survive to see is a success.
  • Financial. Money doesn’t equate to all round success. Again, most people your age are not rich.
  • Career. At 21 it’s unlikely you have established a long career with years of training and experience under your belt simply because you are not old enough.
  • Family. Marital partner and children. You have got time for these yet.
  • Happiness. This is the hardest of all to achieve. Money can’t buy happiness, age can’t, health doesn’t guarantee it either. Happiness comes from within and if you can truly sit back and say you are happy then that’s the greatest success of all. Mental health is no joke.

6. Success is what you make of it. At 21 I didn’t feel very successful either. Lord willing, you will have PLENTY OF TIME to find your way to success as YOU define it. Don’t let this world get in your head. YOU and only YOU can determine what success is and looks like in YOUR life. I have worked with stay-at-home dads that believe that’s the pinnacle of success. I have worked with single moms who rock it, day in and day out, and they see every day as their success story. I have worked with factory personnel who honestly believe they are at their best making a solid product and running their machines at full tilt cranking out parts at max capacity. Now let me tell you something else. I have known physicians that feel like failures, dentists who are cold and bitter, lawyers who can’t see a single ray of sunshine through any silver lined cloud, and too many other “professionals” to count who just feel unfulfilled, tired, beat up, and lonely.

You are ONLY 21! Start thinking about what YOUR success story is going to look like! You have got SO MUCH time! Now, RIGHT NOW, is when you are supposed to start exploring all the different ideas you have. I am 14 years older than you and I am JUST NOW starting to see my success story which, by the way, spans about a decade. Take this deep into your spirit! Don’t spend the next 14 years waiting to find success only to get to the year 2035 and realize that you were successful all along! Success is a mindset, my friend! Trust me on that.


Right now, in this moment, start setting your intention for the next 14 years. Start defining what success means to YOU, because YOU are the ONLY person who can determine what that is and what that means in YOUR life!

  • I think what’s actually bad is thinking that one should be already successful at age 21. But I do think it’s good that you have set a high bar for yourself at that age. People who are successful at that age have either been very lucky or worked very hard/smart, or both.

There’s a quote, but the author of it escapes me, I think he was a reputable coach though. He said… “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

So whatever is your measure of success, which can be different from person to person, set your standards but also be realistic. 21 is still very young, many people are still in university at that age, some haven’t even had their first job yet, and many still don’t know what they want to even do with their lives yet. From the perspective of the critical mass, no one is expecting you to be successful at that age. But if you expect yourself to be successful already, then that’s the drive and attitude that could separate you from everyone else and bring you the early success you are looking for.

The way I see it, if people are telling you that you are crazy for pursuing something big, if they are telling you that you are in over your head, if they are telling you not to take certain risks…then you are doing something right.

  • I repeated a class when I was probably 7 years or so because my handwriting was probably bad enough to damage your eyes. I was a slow learner. I stammered so much in my first year of high school, you could probably take 7 steps before I ask, “please could you help me? I lost my way” (I am not joking). Did that mean I would never be able to talk fluently? or that my hand writing would eventually damage my own eyes? No. I speak a lot better now and my writings are readable. It took years.

Mark Zuckerberg was 23 when he became a billionaire.

Bill Gates was 33 when he became a billionaire.

J.K Rowling became a millionaire in 2004 after several fails.

It’s not bad if you are not successful now, everyone’s timing is different. It is however, going to be of a concern if you have no plans whatsoever. Success starts somewhere, what’s your starting point? I leave that question for you to answer.?

  • Different people have different definitions for success like earning money, having degree and so on. And as far as I am concerned, success is what if you are satisfied and contented.

Moreover it’s not at all bad if you are not successful at 21 years of age because I have seen many people that achieve things very late in their life and you are just 21 so don’t over -urbanize yourself rather if you are working on something just keep going because efforts are always, always and always rewarded in one way or another.

Furthermore, if possible so change your definition for success and secondly if you can help someone so its means you are successful because you are making someone’s life easy and comfortable.

  • No, it’s not bad that you are not successful at 21, it’s not good that you should think it is. You are young, you are only three years over a teenager. Give yourself some time to grow-up to be ready to succeed, at your own speed and time. Male brains are not developed until they are 25 years of age. Females mature much earlier. Set a small goal for yourself and achieve it. Then, reward yourself. It can be as simple as going to McDonald’s to apply for a job. If you work there for a year or less, you can work your way up to a management position, depending on how fast or good you are. It will look good on a resume, and will give you experience working with the public. Go for it and make new friends and money while you are there.

Good luck my friend.

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