Make Every Day Precious, Acknowledge the In-Between.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver
I saw this quotation today, and found myself paralyzed by it. “Your one wild and precious life.” I felt like I was shot. I began to panic while my brain flooded with catastrophic questions: Why didn’t I study abroad in college? Why did I invest so much time in a career I am no longer pursuing? Where did all my time even go? How am I making an impact on the world?
“Your one and precious life.” It was like some jackass wrote it on my eyeballs with permanent marker and that was all I could see for 24 hours.
After a full day of letting this idea chase me around like a shadow, I realized that I was quite literally getting in my own way. If there is anything I’ve learned from my new (and completely unexpected) day-to-day corporate job, it is the idea of celebrating small wins. I shined a light on that shadow and took a minute to break this down.
There are 365 days in a year. That is a fact. If I were to boil down my life into the days that marked major accomplishments in my Life Trajectory Calendar, there may be (give or take) 7-10 days circled. I am 27 years old. That means that out of the roughly 9,855 days of my life thus far, I am cracking open bubbly (on average) 8.5 days. Now, if we only have “one wild and precious life,” this is what needs to be changed.
I made a large choice recently and decided to completely switch careers. I am in my second week of a job I’ve never envisioned myself having. I expect the next two months of learning to be filled with mistakes and failure, so why not focus on what is in my control? Why not emphasize the positives? Grip the things in my power?
For example: Showing up for work early to get a headstart, win. Having a positive attitude despite inevitable frustration, win. Meeting one new co-worker a day and understanding what they do to succeed, win. The in-between is the majority of our lives, and the sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can take the reins on our happiness.
We are wrapped up in a very unique time. Our new personas are full of filters and masks. We project lives we don’t even recognize because we are too busy trying to capture them to see what is actually happening. This does not allow us to be comfortable with all the days I will now call the in-betweens, the seemingly mundane days that build upon one another to guide us to our biggest achievements.
We are not valuing small successes because there is little that is viewed as a victory until it is perfect. You are not an actress until you’re famous. You are not a writer unless you are on the New York Times Best Sellers list. You are not a lawyer until you are a partner. You are not a chef until you are an executive at a 5-star, trendy restaurant. You not a success story in business unless you are a VP or President.
Please don’t get me wrong, setting high goals and standards is a beautiful thing. It separates those of us with grit and those without. What I am saying is this: our life is a giant path, and even if you take the long way to the finish line, you can still choose to find patches of sunlight.
We are not paying attention to our in-between lives because we are ignoring the joy in discovering our day-to-day process. We are avoiding eye contact with people cheering us on the sidelines in order to finish the race fastest. Let’s honor the baby steps and acknowledge our progress. The end result is the end result for a reason.
You went on a jog this morning? Yes!
You stepped outside your comfort zone and spoke in a business lecture? Hell yes!
You took a cooking class after a long day at work? Holy crap, you’re killing it!
Small wins deserve to happen every day.
So what’s my new takeaway from Mary Oliver’s legendary quotation?
I plan to make every day precious. And I hope you do the same.
Jamie Wolfe collects her energy and passion from New York City’s electric streets. She moved to Manhattan to study drama at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and fell in love with its edge and quirky charm. She attempts to find humor in all situations, and thoroughly enjoys comedy, dance, and a solid spicy tuna roll. She lives in constant awe of her surroundings, and has committed to capturing her emotions in writing so they last forever.