They say actions speak louder than words. Well, I don’t know who “they” is, but that statement in and of itself is impossible. But I suppose even with my appreciation for words and their own undeniable but often underestimated power, I would have to admit that words without action are meaningless, and their anti-power can become venomous, sucking the life and meaning out of any other words the inactive might speak.

One of the more obvious examples of the importance of words being put into action are How-To Guides. I’ve seen several lists of tasks to lead to success over the years. I read some of them, and none of them have any sort of magic – just your average, everyday routines. There is a specific tip that I read twice in the last year that I cannot bring myself to implement. And it is possible that my inaction on this tip is limiting the potential of my success.

I will not start off every day with a cold shower. Why would I begin my days with self-inflicted torture? The rest of the day will take care of the torture – I don’t need to worry about that. It seems more productive to bask in the warmth and comfort of a warm/hot shower – sort of a little present to myself, saying no matter what the rest of the day holds, this is your moment to relax. That seems more realistic to me. But I suppose the fact that I do not take cold showers, precludes me from judging its usefulness.

In the movie The Secret of My Success, we are shown that Michael J. Fox’s character’s success comes from his job in the mail room, but of course that’s only the opportunity. He took the initiative to lie to his uncle and everyone else in various ways in order to use the information he gathered in the mail room to advance his own career and eventually take the company from his uncle. It is a great movie, and the theme song still runs through my head quite often (the secret of my success is I’m living 25 hours a day). But if you’re not ready to manipulate your families and opportunities for your own betterment, here are some things that I do on a regular basis that I can personally verify may or may not impact your life’s success, depending on how you define success.

Reading and Riding

I read once that if you want to be a good writer, you must read. Well, OK – if I must. I do like to read . . . interesting writing. The only problem I can find with that excellent advice is all of my spare time (that I would use for reading) happens to coincide with the times of night typically associated with sleeping, so I have to work reading into my schedule at other times, for example, during exercise.

Reading and exercising simultaneously is like killing two birds with a single stone, with the stone being time. So, every time I bike it, a book is in my hands. I know what you’re thinking . . . that I’m amazing. Who rides a bike and reads a book at the same time without wrecking and with complete understanding of what’s been read? And you’re right – I am absolutely amazing at reading and riding.

Sometimes you have to find a way to mix and match the things you want to get done if they’re going to get done consistently. And as it turns out, each activity builds on the other – reading keeps me biking and biking gives me the time to read. Did I mention that the bike is stationary?

Breaking Good

I don’t take scheduled breaks – I don’t like my day to be that predictable. I do take breaks though. In fact, I have a little meme I printed out and taped on my desk at work that says, “I’m worthless until I have my morning coffee, lunch, and afternoon snack breaks.” I laugh every time I read it.

When my work is flowing and everything is churning like a well-oiled machine, I don’t jinx it by breaking it up. I just chug right along. Sometimes though, the words aren’t coming to me and my thought process seems to stall and shutter. Instead of trying to force thought and creativity, I just take a laugh break. Whether that’s reading a movie quote or joking with a friend, once I get a good laugh in, it’s like my mind is renewed and I can go back to working.

Accepting Compliments and Storing DataSomeone started a compliment the other day by saying, “Denise can come up with a movie quote to fit any situation.” And just as I was thinking “what an awesome thing to say,” another person added a conjunction to the sentence and flipped the coin, continuing, “ … but she can’t remember the names of people she talks to every day.”

I nodded my head because it’s a true-enough statement. It’s nothing personal; it’s just a matter of what I deemed priority years ago. In Milk, Drugs, and Time Travel, I talked about how I had to make room in my brain for all the movie, music, and everyday quotes I like to keep on tap. And in Peter Pan Understands, I explain the importance of intentionally remembering.

While I wasn’t offended by the comment, it has stayed with me. It’s true that I forget names, and sometimes I just forget words. And while I have no intention of ridding my memory of any quotes I stored, I have begun focusing on retaining more daily-life-relevant facts, words, and names.

If it’s true that other saved information is being discarded in order for my mind to retain more names, then I am unaware at this point what is being dumped, but when the day arrives that I need to recall whatever level of information I am losing in order to remember names, I’m sure I’ll laugh at the realization of what has happened.