How Can I Start?

Having trouble thinking of what to do?

Why not choose a theme for your Big Day according to the month you want to try it.

I’m beta-testing the schedule below. See if it works for you as an organizing principle. Or maybe it’ll spark some idea that isn’t on your list.

January: PLAN

Prepare for a natural disaster.  Plan your next great vacation. Grok at a deep level a potential career change. Know what to do if somebody collapses or gets injured on your watch.

February: LEARN

Put some new skill on your resume — riding a unicycle, playing a song on the ukulele, drawing a recognizable portrait, getting your scuba certification.


Revisit that half-completed project that stalled and just git ‘er done. Complete the family genealogy. Fill in the gaps in your knowledge of your favorite movie director’s oeuvre. Cobble all those bits of footage in your computer hard drives into a movie. Re-open the file on some challenge that defeated you (Mt. Rainier!) and slay it.


That thing you always meant to tackle? Tackle it. (So long as it’s tackleable in a day. Even if it isn’t: you can tackle it in installments, one Big Day at a time.)

Read the (short) classic novel that has eluded you. 

Learn enough Spanish to have a crude conversation. (Binge-listening to the “Coffee-break Spanish” podcasts, sequentially, will do it.)


The job jar runneth over — pick one and just get it over with. That’s what’s meant by “eating the frog: you take a big unpleasant task and just disappear it — and then enjoy the huge weight off your shoulders. Declutter the house, get your finances in order, paint the upstairs. Strangely, a lot of “eat the frog” jobs aren’t so bad once you start them. They can be fun.


You can’t really “think out of the box” — that’s a myth. But you can grow the box, bit by bit, by having novel experiences. June is about psychological experiments: Have a “Yes” day, a blind day, a ‘mystery travel’ day. Read the kind of book you never read. Try not buying anything for a whole day. Or not complaining. Go cold-turkey on some vice.



Scrub in on someone else’s venture — a bird count, charity ride, research trip — or create a collective Big Day of your own. Organize a neighborhood clean up. Paint stenciled fish on the pavement next to storm drains. Work with the “ghost bike” project to attach little biographies of the cyclists who died at those locations. Plant a guerilla garden in the infield of a traffic circle.


Think physical endurance: how far can you walk/bike/kayak? How high can you climb? How does it feel to stay outdoors for a full 24 hours? (Feels pretty good, judging by these folks.)


Memorize all the world capitals, or the name of everyone you meet in a day. Try something that for you takes insane courage — like busking, or preparing five minutes of comedy that you perform that night at an open-mike event.

October: CONNECT

Mend fences with an estranged relative, write thank-you letters to old teachers/coaches/mentors, track down a long-lost high-school pal. Or make a new friend in some story-worthy way.

November: BUILD

Create something from nothing — a blog, a personal brand, a cheeseboard, a winning caption in the New Yorker’s caption contest.

December: GIVE

Prepare an elaborate meal for a lover or serve a simple one at a soup kitchen for strangers. Volunteer to sort clothes or deliver presents for a holiday charity. Create Big Days for other people.