Will today be in your memoir?
It reminded me of the classical advice: Carpe Diem
Or in a more modern context: Live each day as if it was your last. I think Steve Jobs said that, but the internet is the wild west when it comes to quote attributions so I have no faith in that assertion.
To be fair, the actual content of this amazing talk by Kathy Sierra is all about building the minimum badass user, but the phrase Will today be in your memoir stuck with me, so it’s the center piece of today’s blog post.
What does it even mean for today to be in one’s memoir? It’s pretty impossible for every day to be included in the memoir unless one dies at a very young age, or your memoir looks like the results of simulations that Margaret Hamilton had to deal with. So which days actually do get included in a memoir? The days that have the most impact on your life.
I don’t think it’s possible to plan for days to have an enormous impact because generally these moments catch us unaware. However I know spending a day just going through the motions will not end up in a memoir. Everyone knows what going through the motions looks like. It’s the employee that shows up barely on time, puts their head down, does the bare minimum amount of work, and clocks out as soon as possible. It’s the athlete whose mind isn’t focused on their sport, literally going through the motions without any intent behind their efforts (or lack their of).
You can’t force a day to have an impact on your life, and subsequently make it into your memoir, but you can greatly increase the probability that today will be important. Doing everything to the best of your abilities makes a difference. I really like the phrase
How you do one thing, is how you do everything.
To me, it doesn’t make sense to half-ass any part of life. I don’t get the attitude that only a few things matter. I believe that how you organize your room is directly correlated to how you run your business. How you treat servers is a great litmus test to how you’ll treat everyone. How you do one thing, is how you do everything. On top of that, you never know who’s watching at any given moment in time. I’m not trying to sound like Snowden with that comment, but I guess I kind of do. You never know who’s taking note of your actions, and who that person is going to become in the future. Would you really risk having a future employer see your half-assed work ethic?
I conceded earlier that every day won’t make it into your memoir. What should you do with the days you know will be run-of-the-mill? Make it exciting, interesting, invigorating, anything except for boring. A boring day can be seen as one less day to live. A lot of people talk about “How many day X reduces your life by”. For example I found the statistic “People who smoke take at least 10 years off their life expectancy, a new study has found.” from this totally trustworthy source (If you couldn’t tell: I’m incredibly critical and distrusting of information I find on the interwebz). For me, a boring day reduces my time to live by exactly one day. I didn’t actually live, I just went through the motions.
How do i make a day not boring you might ask? I have no idea what a not boring day means to you, but I know exactly what it means to me. So if you’re curious, and perhaps want a smidgen of inspiration, look no further than the following list:
How to un-boring-ify a day
Read a book!
Preferably one you haven’t read before. The whole algorithm for when to start rereading old books is fascinating and can be found in Algorithms to Live By which is one of my all time favourite books. The fun thing about books is that they transport you somewhere new; they give you an escape.
Have a meaningful conversation!
Small talk is everywhere. Some might go through an entire week only speaking small talk. That’s nice and all, but it doesn’t inspire any interesting thought, it doesn’t un-boring-ify the day. I’m not against small talk, but everything in moderation.
Go somewhere new!
The world is too big to have only seen on place, one city or one country. If you don’t feel like traveling, or can’t afford it, the city you live in is a great place to start. No matter how long you’ve lived somewhere, I promise there are nooks and crannies that you haven’t seen or appreciated yet.
Change a habit!
It doesn’t matter what habit, it doesn’t matter what you change it to. Variety is the spice of life. Taking a new route to work or just change the order of how you do something. Even if it means you’ve figured out exactly how NOT to do something, that discovery is important. I love quotes, and this one is close to my heart: fail faster. Fail faster? But our education system taught me failing is bad?!?! You are absolutely correct, so much so that this is a topic for a future article. However I will leave you with this quote from Thomas Edison:
I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.
Take a risk!
The larger the risk, the larger the reward. That being said … a large risk is a large risk. Obvious statement is obvious.
Enjoy yourself. Whatever that means to you.