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

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
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.…

Read More

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…

Read More

One Big Day Journal

What does a good day look like?

Atul Gawande has changed the way he thinks about his job, and that has made all the difference to his impact on the world. He has helped change the way we think about health care at the end of life. The physician and author used to believe that a doctor’s obligation was to fight like…

Read More >

The mayfly: patron bug of Carpe Diem

. “Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow— even today I am still arriving.” — Thich Nhat Hanh * Lila has a high-school teacher I’ve been a bit conflicted about. He teaches environmental science. There’s rarely any homework and the curriculum, a lot of times, seems to consist of going for walks in the woods.…

Read More >

Do you want to experience your life, or remember it?

[greg rakozy photo] Here’s a conundrum that has emerged for me: Big Days that are fun to do — or useful to do—are not always interesting to write about. Imagine you’ve been working your butt off day and night: a Big Sleep Day to follow? Righteous! But nobody wants to hear about it. Makes me…

Read More >

Couldn’t be stupider … that’s why it’s so smart

One Friday not long ago, it occurred to James Altucher that he ought to buy Greenland. To keep it safe. Because “the most northern country on the planet could be the most important for our survival.” James didn’t have the cash on hand, so he decided to crowdsource the purchase. He went to the bank…

Read More >

The one night that cracked open a hundred years of solitude

(photo El Colombio; Marquez (c) and Rulfo (r)) In a recent issue of the New York Times Book Review, the writer and literature professor Valeria Luiselli served up a rapturous essay in praise of the great neglected Mexican novel Pedro Páramo, by the great neglected Mexican novelist Juan Rulfo. She opens with a shot of…

Read More >