When our daughter started college last fall, our pal Bruce Littlefield gave her some advice I wish I had: "Write down one thing that happened every day."
I'd always encouraged Katie to save her story, as her 8-year-old musings in this photo attests. But Bruce reminded her what I hadn't thought to, how important it is to keep saving it.
"Otherwise," Bruce told her, "you'll forget."
You'll forget what you accomplished, what made you double over with laughter, and what mistakes threatened to derail everything -- only to teach you so much you'll eventually attribute much of your happiness to them.
You'll spot destructive patterns you wouldn't otherwise have noticed. You'll realize if you don't make some changes you'll bore yourself to death.
This is my advice to not only college freshmen but everyone who's still enrolled in that great big classroom called life: "Save your story."
And while you're at it, make it a good one.
My notes are a gift to the old woman I'll become. I want her to have something fun to read, something really fun, as she rocks back and forth on one of those wooden porch swings I pine away for.
I don't live in the past, but I savor it. I love looking back on fascinating conversations, random funny things, and especially the seemingly insignificant moments that are always anything but.
I stumbled on this note the other day, one I made when Katie was a baby: "I told her what a fun day we were going to have. I always tell her that."
She wasn't even 8 months old, and I was telling her how much fun the day was going to be? I may as well have told her that purple thing we called Barney was her real dad, that's how little she could've understood what I was saying. On second thought and if you know Katie, never mind. She probably knew more at that age than she let on.
But you see where this is going. I had no idea I'd started programming her so early that life is meant to be fun.
When Katie was a bit older she started asking me, "What are we going to do fun today?" It became our template for a successful day, which -- when added to the next day and the day after that -- makes a successful life. But I couldn't remember where her question came from.
Now I have a guess.
If you're anything like me, it's constant -- that background commentary from the not-so-friendly voice inside your head. You know the one. The one who tells you, for example, you really should have more to show for yourself at this age.
Do yourself a favor. Collect the evidence. Do what Bruce suggests. Write down one thing that happened every day. One thing! It isn't a big investment. You probably spend more time sneezing.
Those notes will add up. You'll realize much of what you love about your life is the direct result of the courage you summoned. It's the direct result of stepping up and saying "yes."
That's a pretty cool gift to the person you're becoming, don't you think?