One of the attractions of heading off somewhere wild now and again is the way in which it helps you to focus on your priorities back in the “real” world, as well as on what is, and is not, important to you.
We all have our own personal goals; that special thing we would love to accomplish, if only we could find the time and energy to just get started. To begin moving towards those goals it is helpful to make statements of intent to ourselves; to convince ourselves that we are serious.
I have come to believe that micro-adventures can jump-start the soul and achieve many of the same things as a long, exotic expedition. In a similar vein I have now begun doing a small series of very simple activities which I believe act as stimuli towards me making the most of my day, and also, therefore, my days.
A few of them are aimed to directly make my life better. Others are just statements of intent to get me in the right frame of mind to get on and do whatever it is that I want to do.
I don’t expect you to take them all on board. You may think some of them are pretty ridiculous and definitely not for you. That’s absolutely fine: I won’t be offended! But try not to think of the thing itself, rather the thought process behind it.
First the list, then the explanations:
1. Time. If you get up a mere 10 minutes earlier each day, and go to bed 10 minutes later you will have created for yourself 5 extra days per year. That’s almost one extra year, gratis, in a lifetime. How much would you give for 5 extra days each year? You don’t need to pay: this is time for free. Time to be used. Free time!
2. Turn off your TV. Give this a try: do not turn on your TV for a day. Come home from work and use those evening hours to do something different, something creative. Once you’ve mastered a day without TV, try a week…
3. Have a shower. Sound advice indeed! But take a cold shower every day. It will save the planet, save you cash, and it feels great too! It sounds unpleasant, and the first step is pretty daunting. But once you’re in you realise it’s not so bad. And you feel so good once you have finished. Apart from being a great metaphor for much of what I try to do in life, a cold shower also sets you up well for the day. If you can endure something bad just moments after leaving your warm, cozy bed then the rest of the day will be a breeze in comparison! I’ve been doing this for a month or two now and reckon I have mastered it. I’ve now moved to showering outside under the hosepipe as my way of ramping up the challenge a bit, but I can appreciate that that may make me sound like a bit of a weirdo! Whether that will last into the winter remains to be seen…
4. Take a photograph every day for a year. I began doing this as my New Year’s Resolution for 2009. I started it to improve my photography skills. But I have come to value the challenge for the daily dollop of self-discipline it requires and because it forces me, however dull my day, to look around for something positive or interesting or beautiful. There is always something.
5. Run. Go for a run before breakfast. If you hate running go for a walk, or a bike ride. I find this a bit like the cold shower: when I wake up I don’t want to get out of my nice bed and go running. But I never ever regret it once I’ve done it. It doesn’t need to be long, just long enough to stir the blood, blow away the cobwebs, freshen you up, and remind you that you are alive and need to get on with life! If you don’t have time then just get off the Tube or bus one stop earlier and walk the rest of the way to work.
6. Read. Use the time you’ve saved by getting up 10 minutes earlier and by turning off your TV to read more. Most of us want to read more books. But by setting myself a quantifiable target (to read one book of fiction and one book of non-fiction every month) I have become more focused about getting stuck into all those books I want to read. Need some ideas of books to read? Try the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of all time for starters. Or one of my books!
7. Press ups. Another metaphor for my lessons from the road (think big, start small): if you do two press ups today, then three tomorrow (and so on), then eventually you’ll be able to do 100 consecutive press-ups… Sound interesting? Read my blog post on the programme here.
8. Pause. When I boil the kettle I used to do what most normal people do: see how many press ups I could do before the kettle clicked. (Waiting for toast to pop I would do sit ups, and I can do ten chin ups on my kitchen bar in the time the espresso machine takes to make a cup of coffee.)
But now I have a different tactic. Now when I am waiting for the kettle I take a seat, close my eyes, sit very still and just pause. I spend so much of my time rushing around that, to my surprise, I have come to really value these brief pinpricks of calm in my day. I try to empty my mind, but of course it continues racing on. Yet in the couple of minutes of quiet I feel my mind really starting to settle and to sift through the maelstrom for the good ideas, the important thoughts for the day.
So, they are eight tiny things I have begun doing to try to help me focus my daily life a little bit.
What do you think of them?
Will you try any of them yourself?
Do you have any better suggestions?
Please do leave a comment.