Good ones, bad ones, forgettable ones, memorable ones- we’re having experiences all the time, and I’m struck by how we choose to fill life with negative experiences when so many opportunities for goodness exists.
Life is not all flowers, but I’m surprised by the number of people who choose to live in a garden of weeds instead of ripping out the weeds and creating an environment where flowers can flourish. The truth is, your reality is your own making, and at any point you can tend to the garden of your life and create something extraordinary. So, if you are not doing this, what are you waiting for? Are you afraid of the work? Afraid of living different from others, and finding isolation on the periphery?
Okay, those could be potentially legitimate fears. I don’t think they are, but I’m willing to entertain you for a minute. I’m curious what an extraordinary life looks like. What percent of your life do you have to devote to doing extraordinary things to consider it extraordinary? That’s where your fear comes in. You’re wondering do you have to choose between living a life of adventure and all the other things you value. We can solve this.
The Math of Extraordinary
Let’s do the math. My number first. I committed to doing one extraordinary thing a year, 12 years ago. So far so good. For the past 12 years I’ve done at least one extraordinary thing a year. (It’s generally more than that because that’s just the way I am.)
Let’s just say one thing a year, though, for simplicity sake.
1 x 12 = 12 extraordinary things.
Each extraordinary thing lasted 4 days.
12 x 4 = 48 extraordinary days in 12 years.
How many days are in 12 years?
12 years = 4,380 days.
What percent of days over the past 12 years did I do something extraordinary?
48/4,380 = 1%
In the past 12 years I’ve spent 1% of my life doing extraordinary things. 1, freaking, percent. That leaves me with 99% of life still left to eat, sleep, sh$#, hang out with friends, have a family, or do whatever you want.
Let’s say I do this for the next 30 years of my life. Piece of cake.
1 x 30 = 30 extraordinary things
Add in the 12 things I’ve already done.
12 + 30 = 42 extraordinary things
Multiply the whole shebang by 4 days, the length of the extraordinary activity.
42 x 4 = 168 extraordinary days in 42 years.
How many days was that in 42 years?
42 x 365 = 15,330 days
What percent of days over 42 years will I do something extraordinary?
168 / 15,330 = 1 %
Yup, it’s the same. We were using the same model so that makes sense. Is anyone else freaked out right now to think that a) if you do 1 extraordinary thing a year for the next 42 years you’re only using 1% of your life and b) that you can devote 1% of your life to this concept and actually live an extraordinary life.
What happens if do this a bit more sporadically, which is the tendency for most people. Between kids, work, and “life,” investing in our own life tends to take a back seat. So, let’s go randomized and see what happens.
Let’s say that of the 42 available years I do 13 extraordinary things. That’s about one every 3 years. We’ll still use 4 days for the time length of each extraordinary adventure.
13 x 4 = 42
The available days remains the same.
42 x 365 = 15,330 days
Now what percent of days over 42 years will I do something extraordinary?
42 / 15,330 = .27%
You’ve spent less than half of a percent of the last 42 years doing extraordinary things.
Is it any wonder that your life feels boring and unfulfilled?
Okay, okay, let’s really ratchet it up now. You’re a rule breaker, march to the beat of your own drum, sort of person. What if you wanted to really up your 1% baseline by doing ten extraordinary things a year. This is possible. I swear. So, how many days total would you be doing extraordinary things in 42 years?
420 x 4 = 1,680 days
1, 680 / 15, 330 = 11%
That’s still only 11 percent of 42 years spent doing extraordinary things. What would happen if you upped that number to 20 percent? 40 percent? Could you do it? Would it consume as many days as you thought it would?
I bet you spend more time drinking at the bar, watching Netflix or sports, or playing video games than you do living an extraordinary life. What if you choose one of those activities, and just converted all that time in to extraordinary activities, what would your life be like?
What is an Extraordinary life?
An extraordinary day is a day lived outside of your ordinary actions. No routine trips or experiences allowed here. You must do something new, and push yourself a bit.
What you do is your call. For me, it’s traveling the world, new adventures, meeting new people, taking new risks. But, for everyone this is different. Maybe your definition is lying on a beach somewhere, kayaking, flying kites, or roller blading 50 miles.
I want to live an extraordinary life, so I will. Doing so does not mean making every moment exceptional, but creating the habit of doing extraordinary things when you have the opportunity. As you can see from the math above, this doesn’t even require a lot of time.
I don’t want to look back on my life when I’m older and wonder where all that time went. That’s a byproduct of routine, of predictability, of living without intention or passion for life. I want to live with meaning and adventure. So, I’ll do at least one extraordinary thing a year for the rest of my life.
Just one thing. I can do that. Can you? You don’t need to drop everything you’re doing now, sell your house, push away everyone in your life, and set out on a 17 month around the world trip. While that is very exhilarating, that isn’t necessary, unless you want to. All you need to do is commit to doing one extraordinary thing a year for the rest of your life. That will take 1% of your life every year to do. Can you do that? Can you commit to doing one new, grand thing a year from now one until you die? I can. That’s easy. I know I can.
I know you can too. Get out there and make your life an adventure.