The grander scheme of things

By Danette Vernon

At this juncture, your resolutions for the new year may be swirling about, much like tattered bits of yesterday’s news. You start the day in the same rush as before. A quick cup of coffee is your body’s only consolation till lunch, and even then it’s the day-old donut you left in your desk drawer. Your boyfriend’s pretending he’s not getting your calls. And if you catch one more of your employees on Facebook during work hours, you’ll scream!

I hear yah. But what if your whole life was different — or even just tomorrow? What would a perfect day look like?

Chris Guillebeau is the power behind the website Art of Non-Conformity. Therein you will find a manifesto that is titled to amuse, “A Brief Guide to World Domination.” The manifesto provides in part, a short summary of an exercise by marketing expert Paul Myers called “The Ideal World.” While Albert Einstein felt there was only one absolute question in the world, Paul numbered two:

#1: What do you really want to get out of life?

#2: What can you offer the world that no one else can?

Chris summarizes the exercise:

Think through your idealized, perfect day in great detail, beginning from what time you get up and what you have for breakfast all the way through what you do for each hour of the day and who you talk to. Then you begin to make plans to adjust your life to get closer to the perfect day you’ve designed for yourself.

We have all heard “follow your bliss,” but question Number 1 works backwards from conventional wisdom. It looks at the moment when the credits roll.

Author Don Miller, in his book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, How I Learned to Live a Better Story,” was forced to follow along with the exercise above when a studio decided to make a movie about his early life. Don confesses at the outset, up until that point that the screenwriters pulled up in his driveway, he had been using his royalties, without much exception, to watch “Oprah” at 5.

He hadn’t realized how low he had set the bar until the screenwriters began excitedly to rewrite his life story for themselves, while he fell silent on the sidelines. It was demoralizing to realize his life story wasn’t worth watching from the outside in — unless he changed it.

Don did an inner inventory and asked himself questions much like the ones above. In the end he found himself motivated enough to work towards the goal of taking the sacred and 26-mile-long climb to Machu Picchu.

What about your life? Is it worth watching on the big screen? Would you sit through the whole thing … again? In the time you have left, what would you like your life to be about and what do you have to offer those you meet in this life of not-so-chance encounters?

You might wonder as you contemplate your reply: “Who am I to start a self-made revolution wherein I truly take my place in the grander scheme of things? I can barely chew gum and watch TV at the same time. And those are my favorite activities!”

More to come in Part II.

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