14 June 2009

Roll up your sleeves with Franki Durbin

Franki Durbin wrote a post last week on her blog, Life in a Venti Cup, that I haven't been able to stop thinking about since she ran it originally. Franki's a tremendous friend of this blog and I asked her for permission to re-run it here in toto. She agreed without hesitation. So without further ado, here's Franki.


Once a year I do what I call a life tune-up. I reassess my goals, my plan and make sure I'm on course to achieve that. It's also a good time to give myself an honest once-over and make sure I like what I see. Am I excelling professionally but not calling my mom enough? How is my fitness? Do I like what I see in the mirror? What do I REALLY want to do with my life? Has it changed since last year? Am I getting enough time with my spouse? Are there any bad habits I've let creep into my life? How about my friends? Am I making enough time for them? Too much time?

I genuinely believe you have to design the life you want. Great stories don't just happen. Do you want to be a venture capitalist? (I do.) So where's that money going to come from? What am I going to do with that success? Travel? Develop new businesses? Where will I live? What kind of friends will we have? What do I want that to feel like on a daily basis? Am I doing things RIGHT NOW, every single day to work towards that goal?

I'm telling you this because it's time again. I can feel it. Time to shake things up and make sure I'm on pace to win in life. If you've never thought this way or done such a thing, I'm inviting you to take a look at my process and inviting you to play along. But I'll warn you, it is absolutely life changing. So be prepared to enjoy life better in just seven days.

Here goes...

Hit Record

TV has to go. Just for a week. Trust me, in this age of TiVo it'll be there at the end of the seven days. But you may find you've been letting too much television into your life. So for just a week, stop watching people live their lives and start living yours.

Do Something Every Day That Scares You. Every. Single. Day.

This one is small but very important. We're trying to establish a habit here. So it's important that every day you take a small step for big results. This can be reaching out to an old friend or mending a relationship. Making a call to ask about a new job. Applying for school. Admitting you were wrong. Accepting an apology - or make one. Having that difficult conversation. Calling your mom. Finishing that personal project. Asking your boss for more responsibility, less responsibility, a raise, a vacation...whatever. Making the appointment. Cleaning the closet. It can be small. It can be large. But do something every day that you DON'T want to do. Look fear in the face and DO IT ANYWAY.

Break a Few Bad Habits

We've all got some form of substance abuse. Caffeine. Gum. Cookies. Candy. Soda. Martinis. Something. Give it up for one week. Personally, I eliminate all drinks but water for the week. I give up coffee and tea. It's not easy, but at the end of the week I feel and look trimmer, feel better and my skin looks radiant. There's something in your diet that you are using as a crutch. Give it up for a week. Just trust me on this one.

Start A Few Good Ones

It's important to do some things you love. Listen to more music. Laugh harder. Surf. Dance. Chat on the phone for hours with an old friend. Run. Kiss a bit more. Hug a bit longer. Go to an art gallery. Skate. Ski. Dine al fresco. Relax by the pool. Whatever it is you love doing but normally don't make time for...do it now. Do some things you'd otherwise be too busy watching mind-numbing television to enjoy. Whatever it is you love, do a bit more of it this week (and hopefully thereafter).

Get Moving

Part of cleaning up your mind requires you to move your body. Never underestimate the mind-body connection. If you workout already, just keep it up. Maybe use this week to change up your activity or take some new classes. Not working out? How about walking 10-15 minutes a day. Maybe take the stairs, not the elevator. Park at the back of the parking lot and walk further. Again, the key here is just to do some kind of movement every day. It's summer...take a swim. Whatever. Just get that body of your moving.

Write it Down

Here's the most important part of all: write down what you want. Get a journal, a notebook, a Moleskin book (ideally, something you can keep and refer to in the future) and write down what you REALLY want out of life. What is your ultimate vision of the future? Forget about the "now" and any reasons you've come up with as to why you'll never have, do or be your best. I want you to write down your ultimate life fantasy.

What would that life look like? Would you live where you currently live? Would you spend your days running a meaningful non-profit? Would you have your own business? Would you have three homes - one in Positano, Italy? Maybe you've got three homes. Would you finally have that pilot's license?

What would the ULTIMATE dream of yours look like. Write it down. Write it down without fear that anyone else will ever see it. This is just for you. It's your private documentation of your ultimate vision for your life.

What would you look like? Would you be more fit? Would you dress differently? What would you be like? Would you be more caring? ore patient? More ambitious? How would you treat your spouse? How would you spend your days?

The key here is to put down as many details as you can. Imagine what you'd look like, feel like, dress like. What are you driving? Where are you living? Do you have children? How happy are you? Is it sunny where you vacation? What do you really, really, really want out of life? And here's the key: free yourself from wondering how on earth any of this will come to pass. This part of the process is about the "what" without ever wondering about the "how."

For some of you, this may be the very first time you've asked yourself these questions. It might be a lot for you to process. If it takes you all week to write this out, I think that's wonderful. And feel free to keep improving the vision as the week goes on. It may take you a few days to freely allow yourself to dream. But it's important that you get this down on paper. Visible. Readable. Physical. So that you can SEE your heart's desires. It may be tempting to just think about this and not write it down, but it just doesn't work. You have to see it in front of you.

Take A Good Long Hard Look

At the end of the week (or whenever you finish writing your life's wish) read it. Really, really, read it. Digest that information. Read it a few times. What does that say about you? How far from your present situation is this new scenario? This better, more fulfilled you?

And here's the hook: what's it going to take to GET THERE? Figure out what you'll need to do (or think, or believe) to get there. (For example: If you want to be a fitness model but haven't so much as been to a competition, it's time to do some investigating.)

This is where those small fears you've been conquering all week come into play. You'll have knocked out some trivial tasks that have been hanging on your to-do list for too long. You'll be more likely to take bold actions now.

Ask yourself: how can I make those dreams come to pass? What can I do each day to get me closer to those goals. I guarantee, if you ask better questions, you'll get better answers.

Bottom Line

Be fearless this week. Be bold. What's seven days? Aren't you important enough to set aside one week? Isn't your future happiness worth it? The answer is yes.

I'm starting this process on Sunday because I like the Sunday to Saturday format. It helps me frame the experience. It helps me feel organized and in control. I'm inviting you to join me. In the meantime, I'm knocking as much off my to-do list as possible and setting my self up for success next week. Yes, I'm already doing something every day that scares me or that I've been delaying.

So... care to join me?


Thanks Franki!


  1. Sign me up!

  2. You are signed up, now get to work!

  3. Oh man, what an awesome image! I'm SO excited. Today is day one and I have actually been knocking my to-do list down for about a week now. I'm feeling very on-top of things. I'm ready for a week of transformation, Paul!

  4. I do something very similar to this during the week between Christmas and New Year's every year. You struck a nerve with this one Franki. Happiness is planned and satisfaction is entirely self-generated. I am completely convinced of that. There's no magic or myth, it's just a matter of positioning yourself to be the cause of your own life. Have a great week Franki and thank you for spreading this kind of stuff around.


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