Can you believe we’re approaching the end of 2018? As I do every year, I’m slowing down and taking the time to look back on all that’s happened over the past 12 months — although I’m using a slightly different approach this year.
In addition to acknowledging the good and bad, the successes and failures, I’m also reflecting on the ordinary and the extraordinary.
The theme of moving from ordinary to extraordinary has been on my mind for the past several months. I’ve woken up thinking about it, and it’s become a regular topic of conversation at home and at work.
As we plan ahead for 2019 at Life Time, for instance, our team is taking stock of what we’re doing that’s ordinary and what we’re doing that’s extraordinary. We’re challenging ourselves to think about how we can do more of the latter in the months ahead to better serve our members and make their time in our community unforgettable.
There’s a reason I’m taking this approach. When we consider our lives, many of us tend to think in short windows of time — we think about what’s happened most recently. In these cases, our memories are at their sharpest, and we can remember both mundane and important details.
But what happens when we try to recall the past 20 to 30 years? What do we remember? For most of us, the strongest memories are usually tied to extraordinary moments, experiences, places, and people. The things that leave lasting, meaningful impressions on us. The ones that influence our choices and who we are.
The list of things I recall most clearly about my last three decades includes both personal and professional moments of importance. They include things like the opening of the first Life Time in 1992, meeting my significant other, the births of my four children, the loss of loved ones, the recession of 2008, flying a plane solo for the first time, and crossing the finish line of intense races like Leadville.
What I recall less clearly are many of the ordinary, day-to-day occurrences in between. That’s not to say they don’t hold significance. In fact, there are extraordinary things happening around us every day that many of us don’t notice, often because we’re accustomed to them or we’re too busy to pay attention.
By purposefully reviewing a shorter period of time (a month or year, for instance), we’re better able to identify the ordinary moments that have led to extraordinary experiences. We can more easily notice what has energized us and focus our attention on our passions and priorities.
This review can help us decide where to devote our time and skills so we can commit to creating more outstanding experiences and memories. These choices have an impact on not only our own lives but also the lives of those around us. Our actions have the potential to influence others in remarkable ways — and they become part of our legacy.
As for me, I intend to have a positive, memorable, and, hopefully, extraordinary impact on our planet and the people and other living creatures in it. I want to do my part to leave it a better place for generations to come.
So as you wrap up 2018 and prepare for the new year ahead, I encourage you to apply this ordinary/extraordinary filter to your own experiences while they’re fresh in your mind. And as you set new goals — however big or small they may be — ask yourself a few questions: Why are they important? How do they support your personal growth? How do they affect the people you love and the world as a whole? And what would it take to move them from ordinary to extraordinary?
Consider this another opportunity to make a lasting impression — on yourself, on others, and on our world.