To bring it back around to the original topic of having a "successful" life (and I still don't even get what that really means), I think for a lot of people much unhappiness is caused by mistakenly placing value in outcomes and qualifying them in terms of successes and failures. A lot of judgement comes from the same fallacious thinking, too. I can put value only in what I can do and how I react, because in the end I don't really have control over how the cards fall.
I've never been very materialistic and I've never bothered much with goals. I've always equated the word 'success' with something other people strive to achieve, something I have neatly stepped around as not being worth bothering with. I've actually been very successful at not bothering with it
(which isn't quite responding to what you've written ..)