Since my youth, I've worked at maybe dozens of jobs and a few careers. I've done dairy farm operations, office management, automobile repair, and freelance writing, to name a few, but I wouldn't say I was successful until I realized why I was doing these things, which is, truthfully, a recent revelation.
I'd always had the erroneous idea that success was equivalent or at least directly proportional to my income, and so strove for higher pay and "better" jobs. The only thing is that money is not equal to success, and my happiness was never forthcoming, because I was always looking for more.
It took a change to my point of view to realize that I had everything I needed and that striving for more was only causing me pain. After losing my full-time job and switching to freelancing, true, I took a major pay cut. Even six years later, I'm barely making 50% of my previous career salary. Still, I'm not really lacking anything -- I have a place to live, food to eat, clothes on my back, reliable transportation, and a fulfilling life. I'm 150% closer to my wife and daughter, which I can't imagine a price to cover, not even a reasonable return on investment (infinite RTO?).
It wasn't until I made these realizations that I realized that I'd become successful without even trying very hard. No, I am not rich, beautiful, powerful, or even famous, but I have everything I need. Freelancing has given me the flexibility to be my own boss, spend time with my family, devote time to volunteer work, and realize that I am happy.
I choose happiness, and that is what has made me successful.