On January 3, 2001, I promised myself that I’d do something great and frivolous this year — something I’ve daydreamed about but never took seriously. It would be one of those things I would like to try to do had I my life to live over again. You see, I realized that even at the ripe old age of 50 I do indeed have my life to live over again. I have plenty of time to do just about anything I want to do. So I decided to make a feature-length film. And I did it. It is still being edited and will no doubt end up as some version of “bad,” but I’m deeply happy with myself for doing it.
If you were reading ETR last January, you were asked to identify and pursue your own lifelong dream. I said that you didn’t have to achieve your dream entirely in one year if it didn’t make sense to do so.
All you had to do was figure out how much you could do in 12 months and make that a New Year’s resolution.
<How Did You Do in 2001?> Did you accomplish this objective?
* If you fulfilled your dream, find something else you have always wanted to do — and put it (or an achievable piece of it) on your list of resolutions for 2002.
* If you fell short of your goal, keep it on your list — but first figure out why you fell short so the same thing won’t happen again this year. Ask yourself: “Were my expectations unrealistic?” “Did I break down my one-year goal into doable monthly goals — and then break my monthly goals down into doable Important but Not Urgent daily tasks?” “Did I try to do too much each day and neglect these tasks because they weren’t Urgent?”
* If you weren’t with ETR last year or failed to make this one of your resolutions, make it one now. Ask yourself, “What is my lifelong dream?”
Surely you must have some secret goal you have never accomplished. I’m not talking about some dream of luck or self-indulgence — like winning the lottery or going on a world cruise — but an accomplishment of some kind, such as writing a book, building a cabin, or learning to fly. Take some time to think about it. Imagine yourself actually doing it. If it gives you a charge to visualize your dream (even though you may believe it’s unrealistic), this is probably something you should do. Be realistic in setting your standards. (I didn’t expect to make an award-winning film. I know too much about what ignorance produces. I expected only to complete the film.) Give yourself a reasonable timeline.
Set intermediate objectives and make one of them — what you can get done in the next 12 months — a New Year’s resolution. Then, starting tomorrow, get working on it![Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]