How to Be Successful
Today began like every other.
Get up. Drink water. Brush teeth. Feed dogs breakfast. Say “Good Morning” to Horatio, my nepenthes Pitcher Plant, and fondly admire all my other plants. Make coffee. Sit down. Write.
It already feels like a great day when it’s time for coffee making. I use a mini brewer because I’m the only one who appreciates a daily cuppa. Today’s selection is Holiday Blend from HEB, a grocery store chain in central and south Texas that puts all other grocery stores I’ve ever been to in my whole life — even as my decade as an expat — to shame. My dogs chow down on their breakfast while my cuppa brews. Then an idea hits me: “Make the sun tea. Don’t be lazy.” So, I methodically pull the glass pitcher down from a high shelf. I put in the tea bags. I put in the water. I carefully peruse my drawer for a tea towel, then decide not to: too thin. I don’t want the pitcher to make any impressions on the truck which is going to serve as my kettle in the hot Arizona sun.
Don’t be lazy.
Among all the random, screeching trains of thought that constantly swirl around the curves of my skull, that one is the most persistent one. Sometimes it’s a steady strum, other times — an impatient shriek. I realized this morning as I’m setting the glass pitcher on the hood of my husband’s white truck (placed on a thicker hand towel that’s been doubled over for extra security), that “Don’t Be Lazy” mantra was powering every step I made that morning. Hell, EVERY morning.
And that’s my secret to success. That’s it. Don’t be lazy.
Success is a spectrum.
There are no shortcuts to success — whatever form success means to you. To most, success will be defined as making money. And in that endeavor, I wish them the best of luck. But to others, success is a spectrum. Success can be getting that DIY project done today, or spending time grading papers, or reading that book that’s been on your nightstand for six months (guilty). And still for others, success can even just be getting out of bed today.
“But wait!” I hear you say, “I can always make tea on the stove and instead of waiting a couple of hours for it, I can have it in a few minutes!” This is true — but it won’t be sun tea, will it? It will simply be tea. Sun tea is an art. It takes time to do it right. It takes time to craft something that is meant to be a love letter to the verdant memories of youth when your mom would set that pitcher out, and you knew it was going to be a day to work in the sunny yard, or the vegetable garden, or playing pick up baseball with your friends… or is this only me? Success is like sun tea vs. stove tea. There is a process. The rewards can be great — no matter which process you pick. Perhaps tea on the stove frees up time to devote to other things you want to do today. Which one suits you depends on you, really.
Success is a state of mind.
I made my bed today — success! I wrote a blog piece — success! I took the time to solve a puzzle, or spent time with my children — success! I turned in my thesis — success! Other’s successes are just as important, too. My father finished his last round of chemo — success! My friend in Singapore reopened their bar and had a great night at work — success! My child remembered to brush his teeth without having me remind him — success! I like to celebrate success, no matter how big or small, because you never know what obstacles were overcome to make that moment happen.
Whatever you endeavor to do today, pick yourself up, and go through the steps to achieve it. Write that editorial piece. Retile that bathroom! Go to work and SMILE at your co-workers. Clear out your inbox! Call that friend you’ve been meaning to for weeks now. I promise that one small victory will be a highlight in your day, it could even lead to a cascade of personal success. The fruits of your efforts will pay off in the future.
As for me: today I’m going to make my bed, put some hours in to writing while the house is quiet, and enjoy a restful Sunday while preparing for the week ahead. All small victories, but need to be achieved as well.
And to celebrate: I’m going to have sun tea.