Time for another favorite story and lesson-learned from SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week.
When I announced my Year by the Water at the National Press Club, most people burst into applause and called out “Take me with you!”
However, an executive pulled me aside and expressed concern. “Is this a mid-life crisis? You know, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. If you take yourself off the grid and fall off your clients’ radar, your business may not be waiting for you when you come back.”
Hmm. Could that be true? Was I jeopardizing everything I’d worked so hard for?
I’m happy to say just the opposite has happened. Not only did my business not “go away,” it is flourishing and even more meaningful and fulfilling. In fact, a book on my adventures and insights was just published this week.
I will always be glad I listened to my heart and set a dream in motion instead of setting it aside until … someday.
How about you? What is calling you? What is something you long to do – but you’re setting it aside because you think you don’t have the time, money or resources?
What if you didn’t have to wait? What if you could do more of what you wanted now? Chances are, you can.
Please note: I’m not talking about walking away from your job or responsibilities or taking off on a Year by the Water.
I’m talking about getting crystal clear about ONE THING that would put the light on in your eyes. ONE THING you could enjoy and look forward to.
One way to clarify what that ONE THING might look like for you is to imagine what you would do if you could play hooky for a day – or an afternoon or an hour.
What Would You Do If You Could Play Hooky?
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller
Did you see John Hughes’ movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?
Ferris decides to skip school and have a grand adventure with his friends. When they ask, “What are we going to do?” he smiles and says, “The question isn’t what are we are going to do. The question is, what aren’t we going to do?”
When considering how to spend your day (or afternoon or hour) of hooky, it may be easier to start with what you aren’t going to do.
Ferris didn’t want to waste a beautiful spring day sitting inside at a desk. He wanted to have fun with his friends and create an experience they’d always remember before they all graduated and went their separate ways.
How about you? What would you like to do – and not do – on your day?
Are you thinking, “I’ve got so much going on, there’s no way I can take a day off.”
That’s what Jenelle, a twenty-something told me, “I’m taking a full load of courses and waitressing to pay my way through college. If I’m not in class, I’m studying or at the restaurant. I don’t have a free afternoon, much less a free day.”
Got it. If that’s the case with you, play hooky in your mind and imagine a hooky hour.
What would give you a well-deserved break from your have-tos? What is something you would really enjoy? Something you haven’t been able to do for awhile and you miss it?
A 30-something named Carl said, “If I could play hooky for a day, I’d spend it in a garden digging my hands into the soil and planting things. I grew up on a farm. My parents put me in charge of our family garden when I was ten. I felt so grown up that they entrusted me with that. I spent hours watering, weeding, planting and picking. I loved it so much I wasn’t even aware of the passage of time. I left home for college and then got a job here in the city. I didn’t realize until right now how much gardening meant to me and how much I miss it.”
I told him, “When you have something that makes you feel that good, it’s like having the answers to the test. There’s no mystery about what would make you happier. All you need to do is find a garden and start spending some time in it.”
He said, “Sam, I live in an apartment building downtown. That’s not going to happen.”
“Get creative. I bet there’s a community garden somewhere near you. Or maybe even a botanical garden that welcomes volunteers. Could you check that out?”
Guess what? Carl now spends a couple mornings a month in the greenhouse of a friend who’s a commercial landscaper. He told me, “This is ideal. I get to dig my hands in the dirt and work with plants whenever I want – or not – and it doesn’t cost a thing.”
What Could You Do That Would Put the Light on in Your Eyes?
Dan Pink says, “If you ask people, ‘What is your passion?’ they often freeze. They feel as if they have to give an amazing answer like ‘Feed the world’s orphans.’
Please understand, your day, afternoon or hour of hooky doesn’t have to be amazing or noble. It could be reading a book or taking a nap. What would cause your soul to sigh?
Why is this so important? Many people I met in my travels are going seven days a week. Their days are filled with have-to’s. They’re taking care of everyone but themselves. They rarely get a chance to do what they want.
That’s a prescription for regret. A prescription for stress, resentment, poor health.
It’s not selfish to balance constant “have-to’s” with an occasional “want to.”
What does that look like for you?
You may be a busy entrepreneur, small business owner, parent or community leader.
Just remember, there’s no present like the time – and no time like the present – to take responsibiity for creating a life that’s more in alignment with what really matters.
And you can do that by playing hooky every once in awhile.
Remember, it’s not a midlife crisis, it’s mid-life clarity.