No time for excuses
We all know that life ends too quickly, but the demands of daily life often manage to take up all of our attention - until real life slaps us in the face with a brutal reminder. For me, this happened most recently three weeks ago, when my grandfather passed away.
He gave me so much: my name, my family, and a role model to aspire to. Most of all, he taught me perseverance. He showed me that, while most people fear making mistakes and coming face-to-face with their own imperfection, I would find a better version of me on the other side of every mistake, as long as I chose to put in the work to find it.
He taught me not to measure myself by my most celebrated accomplishments, but by the way I carry myself every day, and by the way I treat others in every interaction.
When you set a major goal - whether it's learning a programming language, launching a business, or starting a family - your true success comes from showing up every day and doing the work necessary to make your goals become reality. You will feel moments of success, but know that they come from continued dedication, always chipping away at your vision.
How do you stay on track? How do you know that, when your time comes, you kicked ass at life?
I don't think you have to kick ass every day. In fact, I know you can't kick ass every day. Some days you'll rock, some days will rock you. Most days, however, won't register on either end of the scale. Most of your days will be average - and you get to determine what average means to you.
George C. Marshall served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army during World War II - and went on his morning horseback ride every day of his service (including the day the Japanese military bombed Pearl Harbor!). I honestly didn't believe it the first time I heard it, but hours of research confirmed it.
If one of the most significant military officers in the most significant war in human history could make time every day to do something he loved... then surely I can make time every day to do the things I love (startup hours be damned!!)
Time will pass on by - we have no choice over that. We can choose how we spend the majority of that time, and although individual moments may seem unremarkable, the aggregate experience of our choices can be truly remarkable - and give us the energy to accomplish remarkable things.
Don't you wish you could go to sleep every night knowing that you spent your time on things that mattered to you, and wake up excited to continue working on those things?
How do you make each day count, when most days will be average?
You simply have to define what average means to you - and make average be remarkable, to you.
You can do this using the Perfect Average Day exercise. Here's how it works:
- Close your eyes (yes, really :)
- Take some deep breaths (stay with me... :)
- Imagine a perfect average day - nothing particularly great happening, nothing bad. Just... average. But perfect.
- Look around and see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the scents. Use every sense available to you.
- Capture every moment of this day in your memory. Rewind and fast-forward as much as you need to.
- When you're ready, open your eyes.
- Write down a description of your perfect average day. Record as many details as you possibly can.
- Save this account in a safe place - you will want to revisit it later.
- When you feel ready, extract a todo list from your perfect average day.
I first did this exercise over a year ago, and it involved me taking my kids surfing while they play hooky from school. But that is years away... something to work towards :) Roughly a year after doing the exercise, I created a todo list based on my understanding of a perfect average day. For me, it looks like this:
- walk dogs
- make music
- listen to music
- call Mom
- call Dad
- call Jay (my brother)
- call a friend
I try as hard as I can to do that list every day, because at this point in my life, it represents a truly perfect average day.
Your perfect average day will look different. It will change over time.
Please give this exercise a shot. It has had a tremendous impact on my life so far. I know it will have a tremendous impact on yours as well, if you do it.
Most people have average days that are... just average. If you deliberately choose your average day, then you can ensure that every day really counts for something. When the special days roll around, they'll be extra special. But for most days, the average days, you'll get to make sure that you did the things you care about most.
If there's one thing I learned from my grandfather, it's that you don't have to be remarkable every day... you just have to take ownership of every day, whether they're wonderful days or shitty days or just average days... and at the end of it you can look back and smile at your remarkable life.
We truly don't have much time. We definitely don't have time for excuses.
I would love to know what a perfect average day looks like to you - so if you're feeling up to it, please send me an email and let me know.