This chart shows how people define success in America

How do you know you’ve truly “made it?” For some, it’s ascending into a certain salary bracket. For others, it’s nabbing a dream job and going on even dreamier vacations.

But, to get really specific, the definition of success looks like this: Being married, with two kids, four close friends, earning $147,000 a year from an at-home job that only requires 31 hours of work per week and spoils employees with 5.3 weeks of vacation.

That definition—which sounds a lot like results from that silly MASH fortune-telling game we played in middle school—comes courtesy of a poll completed by Thermosoft, an in-floor heating company. (I mean, I’ll know I’ve made it when I don’t have to wear socks around my house because my heated wood floors are keeping my little piggies toasty).

For the survey, Thermosoft polled 2,000 people on what it means to to “make it.” For the record, those surveyed have an average income of $57,000 and they have three close friends, not four. On average, they have 2.8 weeks of paid vacation.

Here are some other highlights of the survey that takes a deep dive into defining success:

  • For the average person, “making it” entails living in a house that’s valued at $461,000. Among those surveyed, the average home value was $248,000.
  • A car worth $41,000 fits into the “making it” fantasy, according to the survey. The average car value among those was surveyed was $15,000. That’s the difference between, say, an Audi S3 and a Ford Fiesta.
  • But, don’t call the respondents greedy. Some 77 percent wouldn’t want an income of $1 million or more, even if it was offered to them. Making it financially, to them, means not worrying about medical bills, being able to loan friends and family members money and being able to make significant donations to charity.
  • As far as travel goes, the respondents, on average, want to take 3.6 trips per year. The average respondent takes 3.1 trips per year.
  • Sixty-seven percent of those who haven’t “made it” yet say income is missing. Twenty-two percent say dream job, 7 percent say relationships and family and 7 percent say respect and recognition. But, this varies some by region. For example, those on the Pacific Coast are more likely to say respect and recognition and those in the Northeast are more likely to say dream job.

Here’s the full chart from ThermoSoft:


What’s your definition of success? Is there anything that’s missing from the formula?

About the Author

Brittany Anas

Brittany has contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. More.

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