I never really knew what I wanted to be. Well, maybe when I was six. I am pretty sure I wanted to be a garbage collector but maybe it was only because I really liked how the garbage men ride the trucks standing on these little boards on the side. I also know that I always loved books and writing and my biggest dream was to publish my own book. It is human nature to focus on the future. We think about who we are going to be maybe once we graduate, once we paid that debt off for good or when we finally get that promotion at work because then things will get better. Or we think about what will happen if we get a job in the first place. We feel like life is usually somewhere over there – metaphorically speaking.
Fortunately, we all have the ability to bring that future into today. A quote by Annie Dillard comes to my mind: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”. It truly is the small things that we do each day that become the blur of a life well lived. For example, reading for just five minutes today might not seem like all that much but it is this act repeated that becomes a lifetime of self-directed education and enjoyment. Doing one sit-up might now seem like that much – but one becomes two. Realistically, we just need to do as many as we are willing to do repeatedly over a long period of time. So what’s the rush to do so many all at once? I want to share a couple of tips how I implement some of these things mentioned and how I make them work for me.
Start small. Small actions each day might not seem that much but it all matters over the long-term. Here is what I learned for example from a friend about meditation. We sat at a café and talked about this yoga retreat he went to. Out of a sudden, he looked at me and said, “All you have to do is sit still. Now breathe in and think I am alive. Breathe out and think I am home. I just mediated. See, it is that simple”. It really is all about this moment even if it is small. It is that small action repeated over time that makes a massive difference.
Instead of setting a particular goal just choose a new way to live. It is the small actions that make the biggest impact. Just choose something you want to do over and over that reflects the goal that you eventually have and you are more likely to get there. This was my approach with my first book. I just kept writing, editing and collecting stories that eventually ended at my publisher’s desk. And finally, I learned that I have to let go of the past. Until someone invents a time machine there is nothing we can do to change it. All I can do is focus on the present and move forward. That is the beauty about the quote “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives”. We really just need to focus on who we are right now and by doing what we want to do at this moment, those small actions that help change our lives in the long term, we fundamentally become a new person. It is that opportunity that we have every single day. And it is a beautiful one.