So this list has been brewing in my head all week, and now it's time to share it with you. As always, my intention is that you live an amazing life.
I'm reminded of a story, I don't know if it's true: A middle aged lady walks up to Isaac Stern after a concert. She gushes “Oh, I'd give my life to play like you!”
“Lady,” said Stern acidly, “That I did!” The point is that to have what you want usually takes a bit of effort.
The other point is that if you don't make the effort now, and you think that it might be important, or you might come to see it that way later, or you're a person already thrown to regret, you'll only go deeper down the hole of resignation and hopelessness. And you should not go there. No one should actually.
With that said, and this virus disrupting your life, let's make sure the disruption is a good one.
That feeling after spring cleaning when the whole world seems possible, it shows up in other places too.
If you have been kicked off your regular schedule, this is the time to be especially vigilant about creating a structure that serves you.
- Get up at the same time every day.
- Make your bed.
- Straighten your room.
- Create a morning ritual: it should breath life into your body and soul and set you up for your day. At the moment part of mine is Mark Joyner's little calendar. It includes a moment of gratitude, and some quick exercises to prime you into action.
- Throw in a physical practice (Wim Hof breathing could work) for good measure.
- Remove mental clutter as well: a few moments meditation might be right for you, or Tony Robbins style priming.
- Clean your work space.
- Get your financial house in order
- Balance your checkbook. I know it's an antiquated idea already, but there must be some electronic equivalent to have you know where you are.
- Tot up your expensese from last year (quarter if year is too daunting).
- Make a budget for this year.
- Create a savings plan.
- Learn what credit actually costs you.
- Make a plan to get out of debt
Clarity at Work
If the WuFlu has you out of work, answer these questions:
- Am I already bringing a commitment to excellence to my work? - I have a bias here. I maintain that people who give their best and are constantly upping their game have more satisfaction out of their work.
- Do I miss it, my work that is? Not the paycheck, maybe the people, but most particularly the work. It's obvious every job has elements that people don't like: the question here is one of satisfaction with the impact you have on the world or in fulfilling what's important to you.
- If I could create the ideal job for me, what would I create?
- What would I be doing if money didn't matter?
- What should I do? These next activities are designed for those who didn't have easy answers to those above, or for those who want to go a little deeper:
- Make an inventory of your skills. Include everything from tying your shoes, to getting up at the first ring of your alarm, to designing rockets or brain surgery.
- Make a list of accomplishments. Be generous with yourself.
- Make a list of everything for which you have been complemented or thanked.
- Now grab some highlighters of different colors, or choose different ways of marking:
- mark those things that really made you feel good about yourself or the difference you made.
- mark the things that have caused you to lose track of time, forget to eat, forget to sleep, that so engrossed you, they took you to a different state of being.
- mark the things you would love to really develop your skills in.
- mark the things you'd be willing to give a year of your life to get really good at.
- Now pick one. Figure out how to turn that into your work, or at least what you can do to get better at it now.
- Do something: don't just learn. Do. Pick some aspect of what you want to do, and do it for someone.
Clarity in Your Relationships
If the WuFlu has you (stuck) at home, answer these questions:
- Do I think the parenthetical stuck applies to me?
- If I had to spend the rest of my life with a group of people, is this the group I'd choose?
- Am I willing to be great with these people?
- Am I willing to listen to them generously?
- Do I like playing with these people?
- Do I like talking to them?
- Am I open and honest with them?
- Do I like taking things on with them?
- Are they pointed in the same direction I am?
- Do they celebrate my progress?
- Do I celebrate theirs?
- Can we talk to each other? Do I feel better for sharing with him/her? Does s/he feel the same?
If too many of these are coming back with a gut-wrenching no, that's okay. Now it's time to ask “Am I willing to put in the work with my people to turn these to a yes?” If that's a yes, now's a good time to go to work.
If it's a “no,” it's time to Complete your relationship and move on.
Catching up on Your Relationships
I'll do it “when I get around to it.” This is your “round tuit.” Have you ever called one of your friends from way past, and at the end of your call said or thought, we really should connect more often. Well here's your chance:
- Make a list of the people you wish you could spend more time with, or that you'd like to check in with.
- Call one person on that list every day. If you have on this list people that will talk for hours, that you can take a nap only to wake up and find the person is still talking, set a time limit, and stick to it.
- Make a list of things you could thank your mother for.
- Call her and thank her.
- Make a list of things you could thank your father for.
- Call him and thank him.
- Make a list of the things that you celebrate in and about your kids.
- Acknowledge them.
- And since the WuFlu might kill you, or more likely you might die while cleaning up the house because you are stuck at home, write a letter to your kids reminding them of how great they are and giving a few words of encouragement and advice. Place this with your will, or with a trusted relative who will pass it on when you are dead.
- Send people letters or cards. Most people haven't gotten a personal letter, or even a postcard, in years. Surprise them.
Get Your Body in Order
We all know that health is good. We all know good exercise and eating make a difference.
- Figure out what exercise works for you. At a minimum, get a twenty minute walk in every day.
- Create a structure to bring it into your life.
- Figure out what you can and should eat.
- Don't bring other stuff into your home.
- Find your guru:
- Do the research and find the guru who talks best to you and whom you trust.
- Do his plan for at least 30 days.
- Check in as to whether the plan is doing what it promised. If not, either change gurus or give it an extra 30 or 60 days so that you can get a better sense.
- Measure your progress.
- Celebrate your progress, but not by undoing it.
Figure Out Your Philosophy
You want to know the code by which you live your life. We all live by one, but usually fail to articulate it. And when we fail to, we sometimes let things slip in that don't serve us: for instance you might want to “be the kind of person who leaves a profit,” but when you get in the trenches act more like “be the person who won't be taken advantage of.”
If you are clear on who you are going to be, your actions are more likely to align with your declarations than with the hidden scripts that run you.
- Figure out your philosophy: Listen to Jim Rohn's Best Year Ever.
- Get clear on your guiding principles.
- Write a Code for yourself.
- Write a theme song for yourself.
- Do the Landmark Forum. I know there are other courses, but I haven't done them, and I know this one works.
Live By It, Your Philosophy that is.
- Figure out what mission would be an appropriate expression of Your Philosophy.
- Reduce it to Goals.
- Chunk those into measurable results.
- Pick one.
- Break the achievement of that result down into a plan.
- Get clear on the steps necessary to execute that plan.
- Put those in your calendar.
Get Your Legal House in Order
While the WuFlu is unlikely to kill you, this is your wake up call. Nature is a bitch. She'll cut you off at the knees just because. If you are in Connecticut I can help.
- Put Your Legacy (Estate) Plan in Order:
- Make sure you at least have a will. I promise you, any plan you make is better than the default one that the state will impose otherwise.
- Designate who will take care of your people if you can't.
- Designate who will make your medical choices for you if you can't.
- Make sure people know under what circumstances they should keep fighting for your life. Read Atul Gawande's Being Mortal
- Make an inventory of your stuff so people know where to find everything.
- Make a list of digital assets and passwords so that people can have access after you die
- Write or collect the family histories you'd like to share with your kids.
- Write each of your children a personal letter to remember you with and by.
- Make sure all your beneficiary designations have been updated: do you really want your brother, or your ex, or your dead mom, to get your IRA or life insurance, if your life situation has changed.
- Make any decisions regarding the disposition of your body known and provide appropriate authorities so people don't fight about it later.
- Put Your Business in Order:
- Have a Legacy Plan in Place:
- Make sure there is a clear line of authority as to who runs the place if you don't.
- Make a list of where all the important stuff is.
- Make a list of service, providers, their scope of service/accountability, where they can be reached.
- Have appropriate insurance in place.
- Make sure your loved ones know what to do if and when you can't.
- Talk to your kids. Figure out who wants the business if you can't anymore. Make appropriate arrangements.
Otherwise known as I'm running out of steam, but like these and don't want to categorize.
- Garden: make yourself less dependent on the outside world.
- Bring plants and nature inside.
- Listen to Jordan Peterson.
- Figure out what your religion is. Everybody has one. Some people call it by another name. Sometimes it's kind of ugly.
- Don't be Ugly!
- Read, a lot. Read the classics.
- Take on learning from everyone.
- Write down forty questions a day.
- Write down ten ideas a day.
- Engage with people who hold differing world views or politics: endeavor to find where you think alike.
- Find a way to make the people around you smile every day.
- Notice what bothers others.
- Learn about manners.
- Learn about hygiene.
- Learn about previous plagues and flus.
- Learn history.
- Learn biology.
- Learn a new language.
- If you already know about any of these, find a student who is locked out of school to teach it to.
- Get out into nature.
- Explore the world with your family.
- Explore your back yard with your family.
- Check out home-school sites and start teaching your kids all those things they “ought to be taught” in school.
Are You Living Your Life so that if it Ended Today, You'd Know You left it all on the Field?
The thing is we all know we are going to die, but most of us don't act like this actual moment is precious. Life is now. Potential dissipates if not realized. I implore you to pick something, maybe two - definitely no more than five - things, that you will give your life to today.
Let yourself be disgusted, or moved, or driven, into action, but take action. If it's the wrong action, you'll know so enough. Then pivot and take a different action, and give it your all, and see where it takes you.