Why I Don’t Believe in Success

May 16, 2016


To quote Estee Lauder, “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.”


Disclaimer: this isn’t another post telling you that if you work hard, your dreams will come true and that you will be successful and happy.


Question: what makes you get up in the morning?

My answer to this is not because “I’m doing what I love” or “I am motivated because I am passionate about my work.” Instead my answer is quite simple: because I have to.


Fact: I don’t believe that success equivalents to happiness. 


What can a 19-year-old university student that still needs her mom to pack her lunch teach me about success and happiness?

Answer: Nothing.


Who even is Michelle Duong?


A little background about myself: I am currently a Marketing Management major at the University of Guelph and I am also… the co-founder of Ranellek (www.ranellekdesigns.com), currently serving as the Vice President, Media on DECA U Ontario’s Board of Directors, the Creative Director for the Canadian Association of Business Students, working at Leonardo Worldwide Corporation for my co-op term, Apparel Manager for the University of Guelph Marketing Society (UGMS), and Campus Ambassador for Tilt.com (use promo code UGMICHELLE). I also previously was, respectively, the Director of Marketing, Director of Design and First Year Recruitment Coordinator for DECA U Guelph and Graphic Designer for UGMS. I have also been nominated to be a TEDx guest speaker, and received the New Comer of the Year Award presented by the College of Business and Economics Student’s Association (CBESA).)


However, do I think I am “successful”? HELL NO.  


I sleep 5 hours a day:


You’re probably thinking: she’s probably just up watching Netflix.

Fact: I don’t even have Netflix.


By now, you’re probably questioning why I take on so many things when I am making it sound like a chore.


I am not an optimistic. I am an opportunist. Everyone’s favorite day of the week seems to be Friday (TGIF) where they get a chance to relax after a busy work or school week. However, my favorite day is Monday because it sets the tone for a productive workweek.


Unfortunately, I don’t believe in success or happiness, because once you reach your “goal” you want more. People seem to think that once you have reached a certain level or achieved a certain thing, you are now “successful” (e.g. getting that dream job or making X amount of money), but the fact of the matter is you will always want more. This is why I don’t think of the titles I hold as “goals”. At the end of the day, titles shouldn’t justify your level of success, it’s what you are contributing under those titles that define you.




This is why my outlook on work and life doesn’t revolve the idea of success, but it is about being proactive in life and not to regret missed opportunities. To quote Casey Nesitat: “The greatest risk is not taking any risk at all”


The most asked question I get when I take on a new task is “Are you sure? Do you have time to take on another role?” My answer, “probably not, but I can at least try.” The way I look at is, if you have the ability and capability to contribute your skills and expertise to something, why not do it? (Side note: if I hadn’t accepted all the opportunities that were given to me, I would’ve not met the amazing people who I consider my second family). I do admit, I break down regularly and wanted to give up everything because there is always this expectation for me to “succeed”.  I am 19 years old and already feel like time is quickly running out for me to contribute something to society due to all of the young Generation Y entrepreneurs and self-starters. I constantly ask myself, why do I work from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep and repeat the same thing every day when life is passing by me.


The answer is in this video – Everybody dies, but not everybody lives:




I believe that the “purpose” in our work is to attempt to reach our full potential by taking as many opportunities as possible to grow as a person and learn about different perspectives from others. I believe in the term #yolo, but not in the go do stupid things kind of way, but taking risks and opportunities that are out of your comfort zone. Why waste your life when you only get one chance at it? Next time you get a chance to do something you are uncomfortable with, embrace it; you have nothing to lose, only to learn and grow from it.







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