“What you do today is what you do with your life.”
I heard that somewhere, or at least something worded similarly, and it comes to mind a lot. When I think about my life, it’s such a huge thing that I only pick out the highlights. I see my friends and family and accomplishments and failures and major life events like moves and deaths and weddings. I see the big picture.
But if I zoom in a little closer I might ask myself how I reached those accomplishments. For example, how did I graduate from college? Well, I went to class every day for a year (ok, maybe not every day) and I wrote papers and I did the reading (ok, maybe not all the reading) and took tests until finally they gave me a degree. When I graduated from college I remember thinking, “This is it?” It seemed like there should be a sudden feeling of accomplishment, a definitive point where I felt smarter and more prepared to face the world. Instead, it was a gradual process I took part in day after day until I achieved the goal, like growing a tenth of a millimeter every day until I was taller than my mother.
Most of the big things I’ve accomplished in life didn’t come in a sudden deus ex machina moment. They came by adopting behaviors I executed every day. I graduated college by doing a little bit of the coursework every day. I lost weight by eating better and exercising every day. I made enough money to go on several trips a year by working (almost) every day. So, when I think about what I want to do in the future and what I’d like my life to be, I know it’s not something that will drop into my life suddenly and unexpectedly. I make things happen by doing a little bit every day.
When I look at my average day, I can see what I’m doing with my life. If I want to be a person who reads more, I have to do a bit of reading every day. When I put it that way, it seems obvious. Duh, if you want to read more you actually have to read. Instead, I usually think, “I should read more. I’ll do that tomorrow or next week or something.” If I want to add more reading to my life, I have to add it to my day. It’s so easy to think otherwise, that I can do that sometime in the immediate future, but I have to do it today.
I’ve been looking at my average days lately and thinking, “You should be doing more of this and less of that.” If I don’t do it every day, I can’t expect to do it in my life. It doesn’t work that way. It’s a bit harder to actually make the change though. Putting it off until tomorrow is so very attractive, as if 24 hours will make everything easier and more exciting. Instead, you have to take it day by day, and eventually all those days add up to a life.
Debbi Does Dinner Healthy says
Wow. Very deep, but so true!
I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this topic recently, and came to pretty much the same conclusions that you’ve described here. It’s such a simple and elegant answer, but can be incredibly difficult to actually implement. Really awesome post.
Judi S says
Thanks. That’s exacty what I needed to think about today. I’ve been doing the same thing and wondering where the time goes and how things stay the same when I’m always planning to make changes but never really DO anything.
Leah Kadwell says
Thanks so much for this Jennette – very meaningful to me – I keep on saying I want to be a writer and try to write a bit in at least my journal every day… was discouraged that I was not “a writer”… however, maybe since I’m doing it every day… I am a writer? Maybe…
Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good stuff.
I have also been in this frame of mind lately. Thanks for the kick in the ass!
I really needed to hear this today. Thank you for posting.
Thanks so much for this insightful post! My “word of 2011” is TODAY, for the exact reasons you outline here… but I had let this notion slip from my mind lately. I really appreciate the reminder!
Excellent food for thought, that’s for sure. I have accomplished quite something in my life and it’s still an ongoing journey. The secret is to WORK hard and be determined. I don’t think there’s another way 🙂
Mary Jean says
Thank you. I needed to hear this again at this exact moment.
Great blog. You’re right, it’s easy to say I should do this or that and then plan to do it tomorrow or the next day, but to really accomplish change, you have to do it every day starting now. And it’s HARD!
I read on-line somewhere that people who are most successful in maintaining a weight loss, continue their exercise plan. So I have made that my goal–to keep walking, every day, trying to go a little faster, maybe a little further every day, and I’m doing it NOW. I just hope I don’t feel that the extra exercise entitles me to an additional snack or sweet (as I tend to do), because then the purpose is defeated.
Change is hard, but after you have practiced the changed behavior for a while, I’m hoping it becomes easier. I’m hoping the new behavior becomes the NORM. At least that’s what I’m hoping!
Thanks for this.
I need someone at work to tell me this every single day at least three times a day for about six months I think. Then maybe it might sink in. Maybe.
I have been thinking about this post since yesterday. It’s meaningful for me in two ways. First, in all of the ways you pointed out. I needed to hear it.
But also, if I am not doing something often, I need to ask myself why I’m not. For example, last year I bought a camera from a friend that is way too fancy and complicated for me to understand. I’ve used it twice and the thought of reading that thick complicated manual…ugh. So, I realized yesterday that I do not want this camera in my life. If I loved using it, I would be taking pictures with it every day. Time to sell it and move on!
So wait.. if I want a clean house I need to clean every day! Ugh. Not the answer I was looking for. 😉
Love this post, because I’ve been wondering about making changes to my life and it makes sense that it starts with a daily commitment. Lovely reminder!
Rebecca in SoCal says
@Roni – Please take this kindly: I think you turned this inside out. If you want to spend your life cleaning your house, THEN you need to clean every day.
Rebecca in SoCal says
Jennette, I keep coming back to this. Profound things often seem simple, but aren’t. I need to write this down and post it where I will see it every day. Know it. Live it. Thanks!