PART ONE – THE ADVENTURE OF EVERYDAY LIFE
Tip #1 – Write it down. Preferably in your adventure notebook, but always write it down: on your tablet, phone or a grocery receipt. Just write it down.
One of the truths of everyone’s life is – we’re all too busy. No matter if you are a working mom, a father with two jobs, an artist who has a day job too, or maybe even a retiree, there is never enough time.
In this rush, you’ll have moments of clarity, times when ideas just seem to come, but I’ve learned no matter how clear the thought seems to you at the time, you CAN lose it. I have lost many.
So, I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying a tiny notebook with me. I use it and my cell phone note app to write down thoughts as they occur. I’ve been amazed when I later review what I wrote, because quite often I have completely forgotten even having had the thought. So use your adventure notebook for exercises, lists, thoughts, planning but if you don’t happen to have it with you – jot it down on something else. The last thing you want to do is lose all your hard work.
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS
How many times have you passed a street and thought, “I wonder what’s down there?” or seen a sign for an interesting ethnic restaurant and made a mental note to go there someday?
If you have a natural curiosity you are miles ahead of the guy who has to force himself to stop and take a look around. BUT it’s not doing you any good if you’re not acting on it.
Let’s take a look at how fraternal twins, Jenni and Jacki, aged 35, start their work week.
Here’s Jenni’s morning: She wakes up at 5:00 a.m., does twenty minutes on her treadmill, showers, and has toast, milk and a boiled egg for breakfast. Jenni slips on an outfit she picked out the night before, even though the pink blouse jumps out at her. She thinks her position at a national insurance company requires she get to work before everyone else, so she heads for the office at 6:00 and arrives to an empty parking lot.
Jenni scopes out the entire first floor, turning on lights, starting the coffee and finally heads to her own office and an extremely clean desk. If you’re watching along with me, you might be wondering what she’s doing here – if she has no work to do – but after putting away her purse and walking back to the lunch room to put her lunch in the company refrigerator, she settles in and pulls a 3-inch pile of papers and folders from her bottom drawer, sighs and digs in. She gets several things done before she hears her first, “Morning, Jenni.”
Jacki’s morning is a little different: Jacki also wakes up at five a.m. to let Homer, her Labrador, out into the backyard. She plugs in the coffee maker, throws on a running outfit, returns to pour herself a cup of Joe, then takes a seat on the patio, sips her coffee and watches as Homer chases a butterfly. Five minutes later, with her coffee only half drunk, she clips a leash to Homer’s collar and they slip out the side gate and take a walk/run through the neighborhood. Half way around she spots Helen, an elderly friend she hasn’t seen in a while and stops for a five minute chat and invites her to stop by on Saturday for breakfast. Helen lights up and they agree on 9 a.m. Homer drags her toward home and once there, he settles down for a nap while she showers, shuffles through her closet for a dress she’s been dying to wear and dresses. She works as a social worker at a local hospital and arrives to a harried office, before half the other staff but later than the other half. She walks to her desk, where several desk trays are neatly labeled but overflowing. She begins to tackle the Urgent pile when a coworker brings her a latte and a croissant, Jacki’s standard breakfast. She hands a few bills to her friend and says, “I got you tomorrow!”
The sister’s lives are not all that different, but the way they view them is.
Jenni is a planner, down to the last detail. What you don’t know is she’s extremely efficient and everyone depends on her to keep the ship afloat. One of the few times she was forced to stay home sick, the office ran out of coffee and there was near rebellion in the ranks (Jenni has a secret stash so the problem would have been averted had she been there). On the same day, one side of the “bull pen” call area worked by window light all day because no one else knew the light switch was now behind a set of file cabinets. So much of Jenni’s day is spent fulfilling the needs of those around her; she’s kind of the unofficial mom of the office. The problem here is Jenni has trouble getting her own work done, in spite of her efficiencies, and seldom gives herself time or care.
Jacki, on the other hand, gives herself time to do what feels good, a more leisurely morning; the time to find the dress she really wants to wear and talk to her neighbor for a minute. She still gets to work at a reasonable time, shares everyday tasks with her coworkers and is able to extend herself to her elderly neighbor with an invite – not because she thinks it’s the right thing to do but because she enjoys Helen.
Both women are good employees and somewhat driven by routine to different degrees. Now let’s see what happens after work, when their defenses are down.
Jenni stays at work until most of the others are gone, packing up around 6:30 p.m. – after tucking her stack of unfinished work into her bottom drawer and wiping down her desktop. She drives straight home, only briefly tempted by the Chinese restaurant she loves. She’s saving up for a four-day cruise with Jacki and their mother this summer and watching every penny. It’s summer and there is a spectacular sunset to her left, causing a man to pull over and snap some pictures on his phone but Jenni doesn’t notice. As she pulls into her garage, she suddenly realizes she forgot to eat lunch and is starving. She also can’t remember driving home. Jenni heads to the refrigerator where she pulls a container of leftovers out of the freezer and zaps it. Following her reheated meal, she changes into a set of pajamas and watches television, falling asleep and finally heads to bed when her cell phone alarm goes off at 10 p.m.
Jacki is already in bed. She left work at 5:30 p.m. She was able to really get through her work today and felt so good about where things stood, she stopped at her favorite Tex-Mex place and treated herself to takeout which she ate on her patio, sharing a bit of chicken breast with Homer. Just as the sun was going down, it shot an orange light through the glass balls she had strung around her yard and Jacki sat there watching the light show. It made her think of the aurora borealis so she went inside and Googled it, discovering she could actually see them in her lifetime by planning a visit to Alaska. She immediately went to the bucket list she had on her computer and added it. It was number 38, but she then took a minute to cross off Bryce Canyon, which she had visited the weekend before. She was a little tired from the trip, so sleep came easily.
We can see now how differently these twins live. Jenni moves through her day without much joy, planning her one adventure while missing out on the little things around her. I can just imagine if Jenni’s cruise turns out less than stellar. All her sacrifices will have been for nothing, in Jenni’s mind.
Jacki, however, makes a point of enjoying her day, savoring the little things and although she’s going on the cruise with Jenni too, she doesn’t let it stop her from dreaming of other adventures and even scratching off one of her destinations on her bucket list. Jacki is planning on having an adventurous life and taking positive steps toward it. But she is definitely living in the present, enjoying the moment. I would be willing to bet because she doesn’t put all her chips on the cruise, it will be far more enjoyable for her even if there are a couple of bumps along way. She hasn’t built it up to be her reward for a year of suffering with less. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
I’d like you to picture Jenni and Jacki, giving them the haircut, clothes and home you think each would wear. Why? Because we are going to visit them again. Guys, please feel free to change them to men in your minds but with the same personalities.
“The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams.”
― Oprah Winfrey
FIRST WEEK QUESTIONS
Here’s where the rubber meets the road, my friend. It’s time to make a couple of assessments for your first week of your new life. Bring out your trusty notebook and let’s answer a couple of questions.
What do you give to yourself?
This is a terribly important question, especially for women who generally don’t give themselves much – time, money to spend, slack, etc. Think hard about this question. Write how you treat yourself well and actually gift yourself with things you think you deserve or need. Maybe it’s a pedicure once a month or an hour at the local bookstore just reading or perhaps you finally bought a new jigsaw so you could try a new project. Whatever it is write it down here.
What else should I be giving myself?
Start a list of other things you’d like to be able to give yourself (or should be) and keep it going, adding new things as you think of them. Over time revisit this question and your answers and see if you can’t grant yourself another wish. And then another. Be your own fairy godmother.
What can I do differently?
This may be the toughest question of all because we all tend to do the same things over and over, in the same way, for several reasons: perceived efficiency, familiarity and comfort, just because…
Really look at your life – tilt your view – and list at least three things you could try doing in a new way. Then try them. You have my permission to cheat here. You can do the three easiest things to change. It is better to be comfortable than afraid at this point.
Did I try something new today?
Maybe you’re way ahead of me and already did something differently today. If so, give yourself a big mental star! If not, then ask yourself this question at the end of the day tomorrow and make sure you can say yes so you’ll get the star.
Tip #2– It is perfectly okay to buy yourself some gold stars and put one in your notebook every time you take on something new! This might feel childish at first, but no one needs to know but you and if it feels good, do it!
How did trying something new feel?
This little bit is extremely important. Be as honest as you can with yourself. Did you enjoy this new thing or was it a bit scary or both? If it was scary, do you think it will be less so the next time? Drill down a bit. The point here is to encourage yourself by doing things in a new way, so if you find you didn’t like it, spend the time to discover if you’ll never like it or if it can be tweaked into something you would like.