I want to introduce you to a concept that I came across years ago.
I can't remember where it came from, but bringing it into my life has been pivotal in transforming the way I tackle some of my biggest, long-term priorities.
The concept is "before I die" days.
Here's the scoop.
Once every week or two (at a preferably consistent, pre-scheduled interval), I create time and space to work on all of those projects I know I want to have done before I die.
My intention isn't necessarily to complete these in any immediate timeframe, but more to make sure that I am consistently putting energy into them – no matter how much or little. It's about investing energy into and keeping some momentum around the things that I don't want to lie on my deathbed regretting having not done – or even tried to do.
It may sound simple, but think about it...
How many things do you have on your "before I die" to-do list that, when you're honest with yourself, haven't really put an ounce of effort into?
They just sit there, waiting quietly for you to feel like you have enough time and space to accomplish all of them in one serious exhale of energy.
Of course, with the urgency of every day life, that big block of time and energy never comes (or you talk yourself out of it when they do come) and those ideas and dreams sit on the sidelines for years, decades, or your entire life.
They die a slow and quiet death, with you convinced you will "someday get to them", but deep down knowing you likely never will.
The point of the Before I Die Days then is to take these things you want to do and breathe life into them, even just a little bit, in the here and now.
It's to take these things that matter to you and, through action, give them even the tiniest bit of momentum – today.
It's about moving them from an abstract hope to a real and tangible thing – even if your pace is just a millimetre a month.
For me, some of these are simple things that matter to me, like writing thank you notes to people who have impacted me – something I want to have a deep practice of. And some are more complex, like planning trips I know I want to have done before I'm gone – like heading to Antarctica.
In all honesty, some of these, I never really care if I actually finish – like writing that book I know I will probably never publish. To me, the point isn't about finishing that one, it's about creating the space to make sure I don't neglect it all together.
It's about not bullshitting myself that they actually matter when I spend zero time on them.
THE REAL SECRET OF THIS
The real secret of these days is not just about creating space for what matters – although that's important). It's in what happens when you put action and energy towards something you care about.
A little thing called momentum forms.
When you invest even the tiniest amount of energy into these things at some frequency, you bring them front of mind. You start looking for connections between the projects you're working on and your day-to-day life.
Things that seemingly weren't on the radar start to become coincidental connections.
You may start scheming up a trip to Europe for some undetermined time in the future and weeks later, you're at a coffee shop chatting with a friend who just happens to bring up the fact that one day they also want to go to Europe.
You've been chipping away at it and have proven to yourself you're mentally committed to it "someday" and just like that your already-in-motion idea hits the energy of someone else and a little more life is blown into it.
All of the sudden, something that would have never been on your radar has a life of it's own and guess what, odds are you'll become a hell of a lot more willing to invest in making that dream a reality – and have some friends to do it with.
Input breeds momentum, and momentum gives you more energy to invest into the things you care about.
It creates possibilities that would have never been possible if you weren't already playing in the area.
By playing with the things you want to do at some point in your life now – no matter how small – you open so many doors for energy, for momentum, and for opportunity to seep in.
So, What's The Formula?
The formula for "Before I Die" Days is stupid simple. Like most good things, it's just a matter of actually doing it.
Write down a list of up to five important things you want to have done/accomplished/seen before you die
Create space once a week or two (try and carve out an hour (or more) so you can give yourself time to really get into it). This time should be dedicated and uninterrupted. Give yourself space to play.
Drop your baggage and expectations about where you'll end up. Don't care about how fast you work on them or if you don't accomplish a ton. Just chip away at these projects little by little (but don't BS yourself and procrastinate while sitting there saying you're doing it).
Repeat for a long time.
Set one of these days up in the next few weeks and see how they go for you.
And if you're struggling to find the time and commitment to do this, ask yourself, do you really even want these things?
That's worth a convo with yourself.