My son walked into my room, awake from a nightmare, crying.
“How many days?”
“How many days until what?” I asked.
“How many days will you be alive?”
Wow. That was not a math question I could answer with a quick swoosh of my fingertips across the keyboard.
“Will you be alive for a million? Will I?”
I told him I’d like 36,500, at least, but I couldn’t promise a number.
“Where are you now?” he asked.
“In my bedroom.”
“No, how many days.”
I thought about it for a moment and grabbed my iPad to use the calculator app. It was late, and my brain wasn’t up to the mental gymnastics.
“In the 16,000’s.”
“That’s not enough.” he insisted.
“Let’s make every day enough.”
I walked him back to his bedroom to tuck him in and promised that today was special and tomorrow would be too – especially if we don’t take it for granted. It was a promise we could make together, every day, day by day.
Choices (the secret sauce to leading your life)
What choices are you making? Intentionally. With thought. And care.
Are you leading your life or are you blindly following, by rote.
Do you eat breakfast while checking your email, go from meeting to meeting at work, pick up dinner, eat in 15 minutes, clean up, sit near your family for together time while you’re on your laptop googling nothing and everything, go to bed and start again.
Do you make time in your day for reflection and connection?
Do you have quiet moments with life’s bigger questions and loud, boisterous, happy moments with the people in your life?
Are you doing something every day that makes you feel fulfilled? Even a super tiny thing counts. It could be a kiss, a hug, a phone call, journaling, exercise, your work, on and on.
It took me a long time to realize that nothing happens TO us. We choose our experience.
My Aunt, a vibrant woman for most of her life, had a degenerative disease that left her immobile in a wheelchair for years. Early on in her downward spiral, she had an acute awareness of what was next, but she was always happy to be alive, always. She chose her experience and championed over her body and her circumstances.
Every self-help book will tell you that it’s up to you to choose for yourself the life that you want. I know as well as you, that can feel big and intimidating (and not remotely helpful). A life plan – whew. Instead of looking to the end, start small, with this minute, hour or day.
Yes, we all know that today will only be here once, but does that change anything for you? It should.
(Yup, it goes back to choice.)
What if, instead of constant tweaking and tinkering and beating the crap out of yourself to make today positively perfect, you paused? (Hint: like now.) Seriously. Hit the pause button. Use the pause to recalibrate. The pause button is available to you all day every day.
Lost your temper? Pause.
Told your child you would play catch later so you could finally beat your latest round of Candy Crush? Pause.
Cut someone off in a meeting? Pause.
Ate five cookies when you meant only to have one? Pause.
Get sucked into a few more hours in front of the TV instead of making progress on your book? Pause.
Go on. Press it. Make it your friend. A crappy start does not have to mandate a crappy finish.
Tomorrow, when you look back, today will either be a vague memory with a nasty aftertaste that lingers or one that you savor.
Tomorrow is a hope, not a given, and that thought drives me, and my son, bonkers when we let it. Still, it’s a great reminder to go back to point #2… NOW. Hello, leading your life starts with this moment, it’s more powerful than making a wish for tomorrow.
Here’s the deal: Look toward tomorrow too much, the days become a blur, and the best is always ahead. Goals and dreams are critical to a robust life but use tomorrow as motivation to fuel your inspiration and action today. It’s a balance.
Don’t wait to cross some made-up finish line in a race that you can never win (because it never ends).
Alright, I’m not gonna lie, today you can make amazing choices and still fall flat. Sucks, right? You did all the right things, why didn’t it turn out just like you wanted?
I often hear from people in my work, “I don’t know what else to do.” That’s because they’re confusing doing with being; they’re sisters, not the same.
When you’re constantly in a state of doing, you leave no time for the spontaneous sweetness of life.
I’m planning a big 13th birthday celebration for my daughter and have been driving myself crazy trying to find the right venue in NYC all the way from Australia. My daughter wanted to cuddle before bed, and I was in a bitter mood. There were still hundreds of restaurants I still needed to investigate… who had time for a cuddle? She’d lean on my arm, and my clicking would be challenged.
Talk about missing the mark. The way out of overwhelm is through your WHY, not the WHAT.
You don’t have to do “it all” and, honestly, it’s impossible. Most people I know who try to be masters of the universe are the most stressed-out, stretched and short-fused people I know.
It’s your choices that create your legacy. Not only your doing choices… but also your way of being.
Will you be remembered as…
(You pick… you know where you’re headed.)
How many days do you have left?
Not one of us knows our ending. It’s an impossible question to answer (if you have a crystal ball that tells you about my final day, I don’t want to know.) Somehow, not knowing makes this moment richer.
Let’s Get Real
I want to be honest with you; I’m not a poster child for filling every day with deep meaning and intentional choices. I have a temper and have been known to hold a grudge or two. I’ve also made lousy choices that have created walls instead of connection. I’m a blogger, coach, and human who is far from perfect.
My track record doesn’t mean I can’t change (or at least keep trying). We can all make the decision to do better, be better, try harder. That choice is always available. Our choices create change.
I want more than to have lived a life, but to appreciate the life I’ve lived. You?
Break the Frame Action:
It’s too overwhelming to say I’ll always or I’ll never. Life and leadership are often muddy, messy and chaotic and have little room for absolutes.
What about now? Are you leading your life or along for the ride? In this moment, what will you commit to doing differently? Who do you want to be?
“I am a person who ____________”
Start there. Do that.
The path to change, getting unstuck from your default behaviors and being a leader in your life starts today. Own it.
If you’re no longer willing to wait for your life to match your dreams and aspirations, I have an eCourse for you. It’s designed to help you get unstuck and choose to move forward, leading the life you most want.