For many years, I have struggled to come up with a perfect answer to this question. The following piece from Paulo Coelho’s “Manuscripts Found in Accra” is the best answer I’ve ever read. I hope it inspires you too:
Success does not come from having one’s work recognised by others. It is the fruit of the seed that you lovingly planted. When harvest time arrives, you can say to yourself: ‘I succeeded.’
You succeeded in gaining respect for your work because you did not work only to survive, but to demonstrate your love for others.
You managed to finish what you began, even though you did not foresee all the traps along the way. And when your enthusiasm waned because of the difficulties you encountered, you reached for discipline. And when discipline seemed about to disappear because you were tired, you used your moments of repose to think about what steps you needed to take in the future.
You were not paralyzed by the defeats that are inevitable in the lives of those who take risks. You didn’t sit agonising over what you lost when you had an idea that didn’t work.
You didn’t stop when you experienced moments of glory, because you had not yet reached your goal. And when you had to ask for help, you did not feel humiliated. And when you learned that someone needed help, you showed them all that you had learned, without fearing that you might be revealing secrets or being used by others.