When we read about historical figures or people in the news, it’s easy to get the message that it’s big things that make a life exceptional, that the individuals who climb Mount Everest, develop a vaccine, or save a species from the brink of extinction are defining greatness for us all. If that’s what you feel called to do, I don’t want to lower the bar for you. I love massive achievements that benefit the common welfare!
But I also want to put in a good word for the consistent accomplishment of small things. Over a lifetime, this, too, can amount to something exceptional.
I’ve treated a number of patients with huge accomplishments under their belts – founders and CEOs of giant companies, inventors, professional athletes, artists, musicians, and authors. Clearly, they derived satisfaction from those big successes, but the day-to-day ingredients of happiness are the same for them as for anyone else. And, in general, I wouldn’t say they were happier or more satisfied with their lives than most people.
These ingredients are things like: connection with people, animals, nature, and Spirit; savoring food, music, and beauty; serving others and contributing to one’s community; completing meaningful tasks; learning and bettering oneself; and being present with the here and now so that we feel the magic of it. These “small things” aren’t highly visible, but they amount to so much.
This is one of the main reasons Briana and I started to create our own planner about a decade ago. We had always relied on planners, but found that traditional planners caused us to focus mainly on appointments and tasks. That’s what they’re for, right?
Appointments and tasks are useful, of course, but if this is what we fill our planner with, our life map can easily become defined by the things we need to get done. We wanted to create something that would (1) encourage us to define and adhere to an overarching vision and plan for our life (so that we’d consciously relate to our appointments and tasks as contributing to that plan), and (2) help us to prioritize the vital ingredients mentioned above.
Thus, the Dreambook was born. Through tools like Habit Tracking, Rituals for Thriving, defining your gifts, values, and purpose, and getting crystal clear on the aspects of life that truly nourish you, you can start to move these elements to the forefront – rather than the “extra credit” status they may currently occupy.
We can’t all devote our lives to world-famous-level accomplishments, but it’s important to recognize that the big stuff is dependent on the little stuff. If everyone wanted to be Elon Musk, who would be left to teach our children or nurse the sick? But if we all align our tasks with a broader vision of mutual evolution and wellness while consistently dedicating ourselves to the “small” but virtuous ingredients mentioned above, this will change the world a whole lot faster.
Use the Dreambook to help contextualize your work and interests within the bigger picture of who you want to be and what kind of world you want to live in, and then use the book and the Dragontree online community to help you stay on track. We’re here for you!