Happiness beats money when it comes to how Aussies define success



  • Happiness ranks as the top measure of personal success in Australia
  • There is a disconnect between what Aussies value personally, and what we think society values
  • Success is a work in progress, with 71% believing they’re still working towards achieving it

Australians are no longer measuring success by money, property or a well-paid job. Overwhelmingly, being happy, having good family relationships, and personal wellbeing are the barometers of success in Australia, according to a new report released today by NAB.

The first part of NAB’s whitepaper, Rethink Success, reveals that Australians, from Generation Z through to Baby Boomers, rank happiness as the top measure of success. Other top-ranked measures include having good family relationships (no. 2), feeling fit and healthy (no. 3), being a ‘good person’ (no. 4), having a good marriage (no. 5), having good mental health (no. 6) and being in control of my life (no. 7). These are above buying a house (no. 15), being rich (no. 22) and being financially secure now and in the future (no. 8).

Andrew Hagger, Chief Customer Officer at NAB, believes the research demonstrates that it’s time to change the definition of success in Australia.

“It’s clear that Australians are rethinking success; that they want to live a life that is shaped by the happy relationships they have with their family and friends, by the way they look after themselves physically and mentally, and by being a good person.”

“At NAB, we know that people and relationships matter. We want to help Australians feel confident with their money, so they can see life beyond it; so that they can get to where they want to go, whatever that means for them,” Mr Hagger said.



The research also showed that how we believe society views success contrasts drastically to our personal definitions of success, suggesting that societal pressures of materialism still exist. When asked to rank the most important things society defines as an individual’s success, being rich was top, followed by owning and house (no. 2) and having a well-paid job (no.3).

We feel success in some areas of our lives, yet for the most part success is still a work in progress.
The majority of Australians (65%) believe they have achieved success in life, yet 71% believe they’re still working towards achieving success.

Almost all believe that they have been successful at being a good person (83%) and having good family relationships (82%), yet fewer think they’ve achieved success in the things that contribute to their personal wellbeing such as being happy (61%), mental health (62%) and being in control of their lives (58%).

Baby boomers are leading the way when it comes to achieving relationship success – 85% of married baby boomers believe ‘they had achieved a good marriage’ compared to only 61% of Generation X respondents.

We believe that success is in our own hands: to be successful in Australia you need to work hard, be good with people, and have a sense of purpose.
Four in five of us believe success is in our own hands, and 68% feel confident in their ability to create a successful life. Of the top ten attributes needed to find success, Aussies believe working hard is number one, while being good with people was ranked second.

Striking a balance between all of the different priorities in life is a challenge.
The results reveal Aussies find it difficult to decide how to prioritise their personal investment, particularly when it comes to living in the now (44%) versus saving for the future (56%); earning more money (43%) versus having a better work/life balance (57%); and our desire for job security (58%) versus the freedom that comes with having our own business (42%).

Goals for the future: personal health and fitness and the experiences that money enables are priorities.
Improving personal health and fitness is the top ranked goal for Aussies. Many of the other goals in the top 10 relate to the experiences money enables – such as feeling more financially secure (no. 3), travelling overseas (no. 6) and buying a house (no. 10).

Rethink success fact sheet.

About the Rethink Success whitepaper
To explore Australian views on success, NAB commissioned global research firm Ipsos to research the views of more than 2000 Australians aged 16 – 70, exploring the importance and relevance of quantitative measures of success such as wealth, status and home ownership against qualitative factors such as experience, personal fulfilment and wellbeing.



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NAB GM Corporate Super, Lara Bourguignon - Happiness, relationships and personal well-being

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NAB GM Corporate Super, Lara Bourguignon - Happiness as the most important measurement

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NAB GM Corporate Super, Lara Bourguigon - Personal value vs what society places value on

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