big-title2

What's a Big Day?

To knock off anything ambitious you generally need two things: unbroken time and sustained focus. But nobody has the first, and we’ve lost the muscle for the second. The solution – one solution, my solution – is Big Days. I’m suggesting you carve out one 24-hour block of time per month and devote it to a single task. When you clock back into your life the next day you’ll have put something significant in the books – be it soul work or work work. And no one will even know you’ve been gone.

One Big Days

Stage a Marathon Jam Session

They knew it was a big bite — as big as the bacon-and-egg breakfasts they were enjoying in a London pub as they hatched the plan five years ago. But then, big bites are the whole point of fundraisers — as the three friends well understood. “We wanted the project to be mad in its…

Read More

Be an Art Pilgram: A Day at The Lightning Field

As I watched the caretaker’s truck disappear in a cloud of dust, headed back to the nearest town — Quemado, New Mexico — it dawned on me that there was a certain amount of blind trust involved here. Watch out for rattlesnakes, she’d warned. Eat the food in the fridge, sleep in whichever bed you…

Read More

Two Dresses for Two Daughters

  Cher Primeau’s mother taught her to sew ten years ago, when Cher was pregnant with her oldest daughter, Meghan. “Mom’s an amazing sewer,” Cher says. “I’d have these visions in my head like, I need this special baby bib, and I’d explain it to Mom and she’d make it. Or she’d touch up clothes.…

Read More

Invent Something

You know that list you’re keeping in the back of the sock drawer, the one with the great ideas you always intended to develop when life got less crazy? Well, push pause on crazy and bring that list out. One recent Saturday, I went into Shark Tank mode. What does the world need that I might…

Read More

Visit Your Mom

    Should be beyond debate, right? Of all the things you can legitimately claim you are too busy to do, visiting your mother isn’t one of them. Even if you can only spare a single day. Even if she lives a plane trip away. Even if she can be prickly, and kinda draining. She’s…

Read More

24-Hour Technology Fast

After the US presidential election, a fair number of people went on a digital fast, apparently. It wasn’t so much a choice as a reflex: they recoiled from the social media had helped get Trump elected. Whether that validates or undercuts our own decision to do something similar as a family I’m not sure. We…

Read More

Paint-the-House Fail: my first botched Big Day

A coroner’s report would likely chalk up the spectacular collapse of Big Day #6 to overreach and underplanning – a deadly combo. The goal was to paint the house. Inside, not out. And just the main floor, if time got tight. How hard could it be? Originally I’d sold this as a summer family event…

Read More

Listen to a Great Book

  If you’ve ever read a novel in one sitting, you know it’s a very different experience than nibbling your way through one over weeks or months or years. You’re dialed in. The characters are in your head—there’s no paging back to try to remember who’s who and where you are. The story is running…

Read More

Walk the Longest Street in Town

Toronto’s Yonge Street isn’t just a long street. At 86 km, it’s the longest street in Canada, and one of the longest streets in the world. That makes what Kyle Park and Michael Carnevale did this past May long weekend pretty impressive. At twelve midnight on Saturday the two friends set out from the TorStar…

Read More

Learn a Skill: Jack Williams Cracks Rubik’s Cube

One Saturday morning in January when he was eight years old, Jack Williams was seized with a strong notion to solve his Rubik’s cube. The cube had been a Christmas present — two Christmases ago. He’d noodled around with it for awhile and then, as small kids who get Rubik’s cubes for Christmas tend to…

Read More

Undertake an Epic Family Quest

The Hero’s Journey is, mythologically speaking, a solitary venture. When you’re out there alone against nature and time and fate, you really have to double down on your courage to get back home to Troy. But who says one can’t have a great quest en famille? Imagine if you stumbled on an adventure so perfectly…

Read More

Prepare a Speech

  What do you do if you have a big speech to give and you haven’t even finished writing it, let alone memorizing it? Take a Big Day. Go somewhere quiet and inspiring. And get ‘er done. Huge thanks to my pals Nancy and Iain for making available their cabin in Whistler for this, my…

Read More

Make a Home Movie

My second Big Day could not be simpler. I will make a movie. Not a scripted movie with commercial aspirations. No, just what we used to call, back in the day of Super-8 film and those big banks of lights Dad schlepped around, a “home movie.” Digital media has made movie-making ultra-convenient; but the downside…

Read More

Write and Record a Song — Curtis Galbraith Rediscovers the Old Mojo

  Curtis Galbraith was a songwriter, vocalist and bass player for a number of indie bands of some repute. Then he became a suburban dad. The music’s still in him — it’s just buried under ten pounds of laundry. So Curtis took the Big Day challenge. He retreated to his basement studio – complete with…

Read More

Create a “Theme Day”

Not long ago I found myself in the Chicago area with a day to … I almost said “a day to kill.” Days are not cockroaches — don’t even think about “killing” them. Look upon a day, instead, as a pile of Lincoln Logs. You’re going to build something. The possibilities are endless, but odds…

Read More

One Big Day Journal

Have a Storyworthy Day

One day last year, a man from Bangalore, India — a place of both high-tech riches and grinding poverty — was overtaken by a nagging question: How do the beggars in this city of eight million spend their nights? What must it be like? He decided to find out. The next morning he took a bed…

Read More >

Alex Honnold’s Moonshot

Six days ago, the American climber Alex Honnold pulled off the unimaginable. Among physical tests a human could rise to in a single day, this must — in terms of the sheer brute jeopardy of it — be considered the Big Day to beat all Big Days. The 31-year-old “free soloed” the granite face of…

Read More >

The Marathon Paradox: Is Too Much of a Good Thing a Bad Thing?

A few years ago the writer and podcaster Tim Ferriss did the New York City Marathon. But not in the usual way. His was a “food marathon.” Instead of knocking off 26.2 road miles, Ferriss undertook to knock off 26.2 dishes, made by some of New York’s best cooks. He’d got the idea from a…

Read More >

Chasquis! Take This Message!

For The Stress Fractures, a team of highly amateur runners assembled for a single day’s heroic shenanigans, trouble descended around 40 kilometres outside of Jasper, Alberta. It was 1:30 pm. Clear skies, blazing sun. One hundred and sixty two competitors, strung out along the shoulder of Highway 93, were baking like macaroons. The thing about…

Read More >

The One-Day Pilgrimage

I sometimes toss this term around, and it very often raises hackles. A pilgrimage is a commitment, people insist. The goal is distant and your progress dogged and incremental. What possible Mecca can you reach a single day? Actually, you’d be surprised. So long as you think of the journey as a figurative one and…

Read More >
obd_mountain_flag

Share Your Own 
One Big Day

Post comments, share your ideas, and contribute.