Success defined: measured by happiness, education key [infographic]

Nearly two thirds of the public believe happiness is the best measure of personal success – better than salary or seniority – that’s according to a survey conducted by the University of Birmingham into the meaning of success, and just one of the facts in the new infographic available below.

The survey asked members of the general public a range of questions about the nature of success in modern education, employment and everyday life. The responses received present an encouraging picture in which higher education is still a catalyst for success, online courses are trusted and hard work is valued highly by all.

Recommended read: University of Birmingham Director Ian Myatt defines success

Education joins work ethic and positive attitude at the top of a list of key success factors, and was a strong theme throughout the survey, with 58% stating that graduating from university made you more likely to be successful. In the US data, agreement was even higher, at 70%.

The survey also found that 62% already see online education as an effective tool in the pursuit of professional success – this may well have been one of the factors for the three quarters of people who agreed that the meaning of success has changed in the last thirty years. Again, this was particularly pronounced among American respondents: 31% in the US strongly agreed that success has changed.

One striking result from the survey is that despite the many ideas about success that individuals hold, 65% considered happiness the most important measure of success. Only 13.8% ranked happiness third out of the available options. Salary was voted first by 25% and seniority first by just 9.7%.

This idea finds continuity in the list of factors necessary for long-term individual success. When all votes were averaged, “positive attitude” came second – behind work ethic, and only marginally ahead of education.

430 individuals were surveyed (211 US, 219 UK) in May 2015 and asked a total of 10 questions including:

  • Do you agree that you are likely to be successful if you graduate from university?
  • Do you feel that online education is an effective tool in the pursuit of professional success?
  • Has the meaning of success changed in the last thirty years? Will it change in the next ten years?
  • Which of the following (Salary, Seniority or Happiness) do you feel are a good measure of success?

We’ll be publishing plenty more on the subject of success in the coming weeks – to stay up to date, follow the University of Birmingham on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Do you agree or disagree with the poll results? How do you define success? Let us know in the comments below!

The University of Birmingham offers a range of online degrees. If you are interested in returning to study via distance learning, please fill out our request for information form or contact a member of our Admissions Team.

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