For the life of me, I couldn’t see who he was pointing at. I peered through the crowded carriage, full of the jostling and excitement of kids on their way home after a day at school, and scanned the area he was pointing towards. “There, look, next to the one with the blond hair and pony-tail.” Nope, still couldn’t see who he was banging on about. “Oh, for crying out loud, Andy, brown hair, super-pretty. There! Look, she’s laughing right now. Surely you can see her!”
Oh, her. Yes, I see her, now. And yes, she really is super-pretty. “What about her?” I asked. “Who is she?”. My friend looked exasperated. Agitated, even. “I think her name is Kate, and she gets off at the next stop, so you need to be quick”.
“Me? What am I supposed to be doing?”. I was genuinely confused at this twist of events – a twist that apparently had me on some kind of critical mission. “Get me her phone number. I need her phone number. But I can’t get it – I need you to get it for me”. Me? When did I suddenly become Casanova? Why would she give me her number any more than she’d give it to him? “You’re kidding, right? I’ve never met her before. Why would she give me her number, but not you?” I inquired of my friend. “Trust me, you have to do it. I need that number. Please! Come on! I’d do it for you!” came the almost desperate reply.
“Oh, what the hell”, I thought, “it’s not like I ever have to speak to her again afterwards, so even if I go down in flames, who cares?”. Fighting my way through the crowded carriage, against the clock as her stop drew ever closer, I made my way towards the girl with the brown hair. “You owe me” I called back to my friend.
Turns out, though, I was wrong. My friend didn’t owe me; I owed, and continue to owe, him, big-time. You see, that was thirty-two years ago, give or take a week. She gave me her number (and to this day, I have no idea why), but I never gave it to my friend. And, today, that laughing girl with the brown hair at the other end of a busy train carriage and I mark 25 years of marriage. Strange how the world works, isn’t it?
Personally, I think that whole the principle at play in that whole scenario is captured brilliantly in the movie ‘Scent of a Woman’, when Frank (who’s blind) takes a Ferrari for a test drive. At the end of the clip (it’s right below) you’ll hear him exclaim “Yeah! I did it! Woah, Charlie, you are riding with one very happy man!”, and I can’t help but think that, had my friend seized his moment, instead of passing it to someone else, it would have been him, rather than me, echoing Frank’s exclamation.
Life is a constant stream of moments and opportunities. And, as Kate and I share a day together to honour, remember, and celebrate the last 25 years of highs and lows, twists and turns, ups and downs, laughter and tears, but, come-what-may, always together, I have never been more aware of the need to seize those moments and opportunities when they present themselves. And never more glad that my friend passed what was his moment on to me.
But, clearly not every moment or opportunity that presents itself leads you to good places. Indeed, I think of that opportunity to commence a career in accountancy, and while it was an integral part of my journey to where I am today, it took me into and through some of the most difficult and life-changing periods of my life. And, if I put my mind to it, I can think of many other opportunities I jumped on that ended badly.
So, how do you know which opportunities and moments to embrace and take hold of, and which to run from? Well, it starts with having a vision for your life. And by vision, I do not mean goals. Your vision for your life is a destination – a state of being and becoming, while your goals carry you towards that state. And, unless you have a vision for your life – a crystal clear idea of who you want to become, and what you want your life to look like – the goals you set could lead you anywhere – to good places and to bad. But, with a vision for your life, you have a reference point for each and every goal you ever set – for every decision to seize a moment or opportunity, or to run from it.
I have a super clear vision for my life. And it is expressed through my ‘perfect day’. If you read this blog regularly, or drop in and out of the Live a Big Life stuff on social media, you’ll have heard me mention the concept of a ‘perfect day’ before, because it is a tool I use all the time, not just with coaching clients, but in my own life, too. It is beautifully simple, and, when it comes to establishing a vision for your life, massively effective.
Essentially, you envisage a 24-hour period where everything is aligned – every relationship, activity, circumstance, thought, emotion, word spoken, and experience felt are just as they should be. That 24-hour period is, well, perfect. And, having envisaged that moment, you capture it – any way that works for you (for me, it’s writing, and you can read my perfect day here).
Now, of course, the chance of you ever living that exact 24-hours is slim-to-none. But living it isn’t the point. The point is to know what that life looks like, so that you can weigh every moment and opportunity against it – will saying yes, or no, move you towards, or pull you away from, that day? Will it help you build the life you want – to step into your life’s vision – or pull it down around your ears? Keeping hold of Kate’s phone number may have cost me a friend, but it moved me towards my perfect day in ways I can hardly comprehend. Pursuing a career in accountancy, on the other hand…
So, this week, spend some time working on your life vision – build a picture of your perfect 24-hours, and then, as you move forward through your adventure, use that vision to guide your choices for each and every moment and opportunity that come along.