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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

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Bruce bikes to Seattle

Go as Far as You Can Under Your Own Power

Failure is an option — but it’s obviously not Plan A. There’s no avoiding the brute truth: this, for me, is a ridiculously big bite. I haven’t done anything like it since I paddled a kayak across the Georgia Strait, through the shipping lanes, from Victoria to Vancouver. That was 25 years ago. Another lifetime.…

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Set a World Record: John McAvoy’s remarkable row to freedom

    Feb 16, 2011: Lowden Grange prison, Nottinghamshire, England.   The first question John McAvoy had was, What time to start the clock? When you’re about to bear down for 24 hours straight on an endurance record, timing matters. “If you start in the morning, you’re going to finish in the morning,” said Darren…

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One Big Day Journal

Inspired Lunacy

Adbusters magazine is no stranger to high-concept one-day actions. Call them memes, call them provocations, call them statements. Call them invitations to live with greater depth, meaning and sh*t disturbance. The calling-card example is Buy Nothing Day, an international protest against runamok consumerism held, not coincidentally, on Nov. 29 — “Black Friday”— one of the…

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“Destination” Big Days, Global Warming and the Race Against Time

The Elfstedentocht needs no explanation — at least if you’re from the Netherlands. It’s part of the Dutch DNA. For the rest of us: the Elfstedentocht is an open-air speed skating race, by some measures the world’s largest ice-sport event. It’s definitely one of the great physical accomplishments that regular people – albeit fit, gritty…

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Extreme Language Learning: a hyperglot in overdrive

  There are certain endeavours that would seem to be unattackable in anything but a million little duck bites — they’re just too big and complicated. And anyone who claims to have mastered such tasks in a single day immediately sets off the charlatan alarm. Scott Adams comes to mind. The creator of the cartoon…

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24 Hours with the Stanley Cup

With hockey season finally about to resume – it was a looong summer for those of us whose teams were mathematically eliminated in April – it seems apt to do a post on one of the coolest traditions in sports. Remember how in school some lucky kid got to take the hamster home overnight? The…

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Maarten van der Weijden’s Big Swim Day

On March 1, Dutchman Maarten van der Weijden climbed into a swimming pool in Oosterhout, wearing special swim goggles fitted with lights to combat drowsiness, and when he climbed out the next day, he’d put 102.8km (63.87 miles) behind him. That’s the farthest anyone has ever swum in 24 hours. It beats a mark that…

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