Do this Every Day and Die Happy
I am weak. I promised myself three years ago I would do this, every day. It’s simple, yet incredibly valuable to living a fulfilling and evolving life. But I have failed (so far). I have not had the guts to do it. I am a creature of habit, often trapped by fear. Can you do any better? Here it is.
Peter Cullinane, founder and CEO of STW New Zealand-based business, Assignment, and one of our industry’s genuine leaders, suggested I read “Fun While It Lasted” by Barnaby Conrad- an incredible, true story of how an American in the 1940s became a matador in Spain. One of Barnaby’s hobbies was collecting great ‘last words’… notable death bed utterings . He ends his book with such a line, from a woman whose last words were: “Well, it’s all been very interesting.”
On reading this, I realized I was cruising: that a part of my life was an ‘opportunity missed’. To be able to say last words of: “Well, it’s all been very interesting”, I simply had to do one thing a lot better. And this is it.
“Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You”
“Do one thing every day that scares you,” wrote Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Yes I will. I’ll do it!” I promised myself when I read this three years ago. I thought then about what I had done in recent years that had genuinely ‘scared me’. I am ashamed to say the list was very short. I live a large part of my life in a predictable, risk-adverse, routine-filled manner.
At the Cannes Creativity Festival in June 2011, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt talked about: “Try to say ‘yes’”. Black Eyed Peas front man Will.I.Am talked about :“Take personal risk. Take a step forward. Be bold.”
How To Get Started?
So I decided when I read Barnaby’s ‘last words’ quote that I had to get started.
First realization: This is not about swimming with sharks or bungy jumping. It’s about small steps and personal risk taking to push through fear and inhibition…. And maybe even add new diversity and color to my life.
Second realization: it does not need to be ‘every day’. Just start pushing yourself to do ‘different’ stuff, or stuff you want to do, but don’t.
I made a list… 10 things I would do and bring into my life (or take out of it) over the next 100 days. It’s an embarrassingly mundane list. BUT it needs real courage from me to do this stuff. This is big for me. One was to see a nutritionist. I saw her last week, and learnt a lot. Another- to learn to meditate and to make it a habit. I have started that too…a good start. A third- buy new clothes and chuck out my ‘fat clothes’. I have made a great start, with support from others. Trying to buy new jeans is my greatest fear in life – just about. These are BIG STEPS for me. BIG STEPS. I now, today, have two new pairs of jeans that fit me. I just can’t explain to you exactly what a massive difference this has made to my life.
And Will You Join Me?
What’s on your list? What changes can you take now to take one firm step forward… to make progress. To improve it a bit. To start doing or stop doing those things that in your heart you really, really want to do, but just can’t bring yourself to push through and do it?
And A Story About Picasso
Francoise Gilot was Picasso’s mistress from 1942 to 1953. She recently said in New York:
“I knew of Picasso’s reputation with women and knew that moving in with him would be a catastrophe – but I decided it was a catastrophe I didn’t want to miss.”
What a wonderful concept. Sometimes we need to make sure we don’t miss the catastrophe. Take risk. Push yourself (sensibly and safely) beyond your comfort levels. Keep learning. Keep growing. Resist the usual. One step at a time.
Make a start … even with very small first steps…and maybe… maybe… we’ll have the opportunity of last words one day along the lines of:” Well, it’s all been very interesting.”