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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.”

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14 Responses to Do this Every Day and Die Happy

  1. James P March 29, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Baz Luhrman’s motto on his coat of arms is:

    “In fear is a Life”

    Nice.

    • Chris Savage March 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

      Thanks James. Nice!

  2. Seán March 29, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Chris, I liked this post. A Prof. at university mentioned the same quote by Eleanor but took a slightly different spin. He implored us to do something different every day. If we walk on the east side of a road to work, walk on the west side. If you go to the toilets on the left, use the one on the right (yes, his example!). His reasoning was simple. When we change what we physically do, we change what we see, we change who we see. We discover. We learn. We change.

    Thanks again for the posts.

    • Chris Savage March 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      That’s a great take on it Sean- very simple idea and easy to do. Chris

  3. bruce March 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    Chris,
    I like this.
    I liked the others posts too.
    But I like the scary practical nature of this one. I will do this. As you know I’m a dreamer.. I need to get on with the doing. Cheers mate. Bruce

    Top of my present list is keep in touch with the positive people I have enjoyed working with.
    Talk soon.

    • Chris Savage March 29, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

      Thanks Bruce. That is great feedback and I really appreciate it. Chris

  4. Grant Butler March 30, 2012 at 8:56 am #

    Thanks Chris – that’s great.

    In university I worked at an old people’s home, which meant I got to have something close to the conversation you describe almost every day for a number of years.

    My favourite was talking to an 88 year old British lady who had basically never stopped backpacking (albeit in a civlised way). She had amazing stories, including once getting married at the Taj Mahal at midnight (and having the place to herself and her party).

    One day I asked her what she had done for a living. She said she was still deciding. She died a week later.

    • Chris Savage March 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm #

      Thanks Grant! What a great story. I love the notion of backpacking all your life. Having never done it (one of my few real regrets) I had thought that time had passed…. I could never do it now as I am too soft (ignoring the reality of bills and educations and jobs…). But to be a ‘civilised’ backpacker…now that would be ok. And what a great notion…’still deciding’ at 88 re your career…sums up the intent of the post exactly. Chris

  5. Lisette March 31, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    Hi Chris – I love reading your posts and am always looking forward to the next one. This is a great reminder to get out of my comfort zone – I attended a training run by you last year at St Leonards about great client service and upon completion the big sign I had at the end was “Step Away from the Desk”. Despite working in PR there is still a massive tendency to rely heavily on emails to communicate with clients, journalists, peers etc even though face to face interactions can be so much more valuable. I was doing well with this for the first few months.

    Now that I’m working in the OPR San Francisco offices and out of my depth in many ways, the thought of “stepping away” is scary. But it’s well worth it. Thank you Chris for continuing to inspire through your posts. Like you say, the action doesn’t have to be drastic – but it does need to start with one small step.

    • Chris Savage April 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      Thanks Lisette. Great to see your career continues to grow with Ogilvy. I have never been to San Francisco. It is on the list!! Chris

  6. Stella April 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    Thank you Chris. At this point in time I really needed to read something like this and to remind myself if I take initiative to change one thing – other good things will follow.

    Ps send me a photo of the new jeans!

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