I bet you have an incredible bucket list filled with epic experiences, far-flung adventures, and big hairy goals. But what if at the end of your life, it’s not the epic adventures you remember, but the little things? Would that inspire you to live differently today?
The purpose of this community is to help passionate midlifers rediscover their dreams and build the foundation to start living them. We’ve stopped saying “someday” and are focused on creating a foundation of good health, supportive relationships, financial freedom and personal growth. We set goals, live with intention, and brush ourselves off when we stumble and fall.
We live with purpose and passion and feel inspired to shoot for the stars. Some days we’re terrified. Other days we’re filled with hope and awe. But there’s a risk to living with such intense focus. We risk missing the magic of the ordinary every day.
The power of the little things became crystal clear during a marriage retreat my husband, Jer, and I recently attended.
But first, a little about our background. Neither of us grew up with a lot of money. While we had big dreams, they didn’t stretch much beyond what we already knew. We’re both the oldest children in our families and have a sense of adventure and independence that has helped shape our lives together.
The last seventeen years with my husband have been more than I ever could have imagined. I’ve flown all over the US, visiting every major city and experiencing the good life. We’ve taken up new and exciting hobbies like cycling, hiking, and camping. We’ve traveled throughout North America, South America, Europe and most of the Hawaiian Islands. We’ve gotten lost in the mountains of Greece, pulled out of a rental car at gunpoint by the border patrol in Mexico, and experienced our first hurricane on the island of Kauai.
It’s been a rich life of experience so far. But that’s not what this message is about.
During this aforementioned marriage retreat, we worked through a series of topics by writing love letters about our memories, feelings, and experiences. I quickly began to notice a trend. It wasn’t these big momentous adventures that we anticipated and saved up for that made our happy memories. It was the little moments. Sometimes these little moments were on beaches in exotic locales like Nicaragua. But more often than not, they were right in our back yard.
For example, I wrote to Jer about a recent day when we set aside the whole day to hang out. We went to our favorite art museum and then finished the day with burgers, wings, and beer. There was nothing else on our agenda. We just hung out like when we were dating. The entire day cost $46. But the fun and connection experienced that day felt like a million bucks.
Jer wrote to me about a time when we made dinner together and ate on the patio. He shared how it felt to spend the evening sipping margaritas and chatting about life. This was just an ordinary day, but for Jer, it conjured up memories of deep and loving connection.
I’m not saying that the big things aren’t important. Our big dreams and goals give us something to look forward to. Big dreams bring purpose and fulfillment to our lives. This message is a reminder to never overlook the magic of the everyday.
The little things that we remember can happen at any time. By learning to create margin in our lives, we find the opportunity make the most of them. That means we must schedule the time to slow down and connect with those who are most important to us. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
How to Make Each Day Matter
- Slow down, be present, and listen fully.
- Put a little extra love into tonight’s dinner. Make a special salad or dessert. Do something out of the ordinary.
- Sit down for dinner with your spouse. Light some candles and turn off the usual distractions.
- Pack up your lunch and head out for a picnic. Don’t forget a bottle of sparkling wine.
- Clear your schedules one day each month and hang out all day like you did when you were dating.
- Spend five extra minutes each night reading to your kids.
- Turn off the TV. Read a book. Play a game. Talk about your day.
- Go outside and play. Go for a walk. Swing at the playground. Toss a Frisbee or go for a bike ride.
- Write each family member a letter telling them why you love them.
- Lay out under the stars and talk about your dreams.
- Create a new fancy cocktail at home.
- Learn to make sushi, homemade pizza, or a fancy dessert as a family.
- Go to bed early to cuddle and talk.
- Schedule a family joke night with a traveling trophy for the best joke.
- Do something you’ve never done each week. Be a tourist in your own town. Try a new restaurant, new museum, or tour an old landmark.
- Schedule a spa night with face masks and massages.
- Write a thank you note to each family member for something special they did that week.
- Buy or pick some flowers, just because.
- Go out for ice cream as a family. Or learn to make ice cream from scratch.
- Watch the sunset.
The greatest joys in life are often found in the simplest pleasures. Whether you’re touring Europe or sitting in your backyard, don’t forget to slow down enough to let them sink in. Keep on chasing those big bold dreams, but never neglect this incredible journey.