Everyone has their own definition of success. Most of these involve money. Everyone needs money. Money makes our lives comfortable; Money enables us to enjoy the things we love; Money makes the world go round. “I’m successful because I have an iPhone 11 Pro Max”; “I’m successful because I drive an SUV” (or a luxury car but SUV is more relatable); “I’m successful because I can travel wherever I want” – you get the point.
Money does make you look successful but it also ruins a lot of people. One of the main problems of chasing money for success is that there will always be someone with more money than you, always. A lot of people if they cannot afford what they think is the successful lifestyle, things they see from all these celebrities, will think they’re a failure. This isn’t a problem of social media and the millennials; this has been around since the time of the boomers. It’s good to want to earn money to improve your life or provide for your family, but that’s not the proper mindset for this.
For me, I think I’ve achieved a certain level of success because I buy coffee. I buy coffee because of two things: I like drinking it and I have to drink it. The first makes it luxury while the second makes it a necessity. That is why I think it’s a sign of my success. Let me explain.
First let’s talk about coffee being a luxury. I’ve come to a point in my life where I can take some time to visit coffee shops. More specifically, I have the luxury of having some time, no matter how short it is, where I can spend it just going to a specific shop and sit down there to drink coffee. It’s not about how much I paid for that cup (or cups) and the food I may have bought with it. It’s the fact that I can be there instead of needing to be somewhere else; like working because I won’t get paid if I don’t produce or constantly looking over my shoulder because if I let my guard down I may lose my life. I can just use that time, at that moment, to sit down and enjoy my coffee. If I can spend that time with my wife, the more I feel successful.
You would think that anyone can set aside time for anything, but you would be surprised at how hard it can actually be. I’ve been on two business trips in major financial areas, New York and London, and something that really struck me about these experiences is that we Filipinos are so lucky we actually allot time within the business day to eat lunch. I mean specifically go to a certain place and do nothing but eat and maybe chat with friends. I was immersed with Non-Life Insurance Underwriters during those trips and it would be normal for everyone, including the managers, to eat their lunch in their desks. Some choose to so they can spend more time after work for personal stuff, but hey we can also do that too!
So I already feel that I’m successful because I can take some time just for coffee. However, to be completely honest with you all, about 80% of that time I’m technically still working. I’m reading my emails from my work phone, I’m thinking of what I’ll do when I get to work, I’m thinking about the takeaways from a recent meeting. And this segues to the other part of why I view buying coffee as a sign of my success: I have to buy coffee.
I am in a point in my career, a career I didn’t really think I’ll have 12 years ago, that I have to get coffee – because I need it. I need it to wake me up, I need it to keep me alert, I need it to get me through a long day, I need it to calm me down, I need it to keep me sane – whatever. I feel successful because I actually have a reason to use something I like as a necessity in my everyday life. Of course I could still drink coffee and not be working where I am right now, but I consider this simple thing: The fact that I have to decide where I’ll get my coffee (donut place, fancy second wave, out of the place third wave, the convenience store, the office machine which is the desperate choice) because that’s what my schedule allows kind of makes me think I’m a tad bit important.
I had a couple of great answers when I asked in my Instagram stories: ‘How do you define success’. One person said “When I finally say no to the things that I thought I would never say no to” which I know can actually be debilitatingly tough. The other and I fully agree with this, is “when you enable people to do things, and they do it well!” You never know how satisfying it is for you to build a team that when you come to meeting about something important, all you have to do is give your consent and whatever that something important get done to the best way possible.
Our perception of success changes from person to person, but it will make you happier if you don’t always equate it to how much money you have. Some people are born with money but they still want to find success in many ways. Some people quit their high paying jobs because they want to achieve success and that wasn’t it. Like I said, money makes it easy for all of us, but success is not all about money. Rather, think of money as a product of your success.
It is important, however, that we realize that our view of success will change as we get along with our lives. So now I’m comfortable enough with my level of success, but as my priorities change, coffee will take a backseat to whatever those may be. At least I’ll have this blog.
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