What makes for a successful day? If you’re like me, you might take a look at your calendar, figure out in your mind what you have to get done, and what you’d like to get done. Depending on how many things you tick off your mental list, you’ll do some calculation and determine whether that day was successful or not.
On Friday, my day was destined to be tight, small windows existed in between various obligations that included bringing my children to and from school and most importantly taking my wife to a minor medical procedure an hour away and waiting until it was completed so I could escort her back home. (I should note my wife is fine and she normally does most of the school chaperoning, so I am in no way complaining).
In the pockets in between my travels, I hoped to squeeze in two conference calls (check), write this piece (in the works) and complete several more important, outstanding, but not time critical work tasks.
Squeeze being the operative word in that sentence.
I found myself frustrated by long waits, traffic, bad internet service, dropped calls and so on and so on. Shoulders tightening, brows furrowing, squeezed, squeezed, squeezed.
By the late afternoon, I had resigned that I would not accomplish what I hoped and that my day – by my own measure – would be a failure. So I said screw it and grabbed a table outside at a local cafe, ordered a lager and read the morning newspaper at 4:00PM.
As I sat there I reflected on a column I had read earlier in the week, titled Read This if You’re Not Sure You Can Succeed as a Writer.
In it, the author wrote, “Success as a writer is guaranteed if you do two things. 1. Write. 2. Define success as having written.”
The critical part of that truism is that you are the one who is defining how to measure success. They are your metrics. Choosing to measure a day’s success by ticking off boxes can be a fool’s errand on any given day, but it was particularly so for me on Friday. Success on this day was not about doing anything, but being present for my family and others
What I failed to note in this story is that my day began by waking up two of my daughters with a big hug. Walking the third to school and telling her how proud I was of a recent paper she wrote and how independent and studious she had become. That the call I had in the middle of the day was to help my alma mater with their accreditation. And most importantly that, of course I would step up for my wife when she needed me – instead of taking for granted how she steps up each day for all of us.
By this count, a more important one no doubt, how could this day have been anything other than a successful one?