life goals

What We Can All Learn from a Lifelong Adventurer

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I first met Dr. John Davis in 2001 when I was assigned to write a feature story about him and his siblings after they traveled across Nebraska on a tour that had been on their family’s bucket list for many years. John and his brother, Herb, wanted to take their sister, Petie, a long-time Boston resident, back to their family ranch in Cody, Nebraska, while also touring the rest of the Sand Hills. As I profiled John and his siblings, I soon learned he was the author of Too Tough to Die, a fictional account of life in a small town in the Nebraska Sand Hills, inspired by the town of Cody. John and I had a love of writing in common—and as it turned out, we were more alike than not in many more ways.

After the article was published in the Omaha newspaper, John offered to take me to lunch to thank me. I was thrilled to meet him in person. By the time our paths crossed, he was in his late seventies and I was in my late thirties. As we conversed over lunch, I learned that John graduated from Yale, served in the Navy as a captain of a ship during World War II, practiced general surgery for years with his father, and owned a golf course/tennis center. He was madly in love with his wife of fifty-plus years, and adored his children and grandchildren. He was an avid horseman, golfer, tennis player, painter, and hunter. But more than that, John was an adventurer. We were kindred spirits.

As our friendship developed, John and I stayed in contact through emails, a letter every year on my birthday, and an annual lunch. When his brother (and best friend) passed away, John told me how much he missed him. When his beloved wife died, he grieved once again. After he eventually found love with another wonderful woman, he proudly introduced her to me. As we grew to become close friends, we exchanged lively stories of our adventures. I told him of the time I backpacked down the side of a mountain in a blizzard, helped rescue a man who collapsed on a Minnesota trail, and bravely confronted my fears of grizzly bears while hiking in Montana. As he aged, he continued to ride horses, hunt, and golf. He often delighted in proudly announcing, “I’m the oldest person on the golf course!” In Nebraska, John looked forward to hunting season as much as he did when he was a boy. While wintering at his home in California, John loved four-wheeling in his Hummer. One day a few years ago, I received a letter from John confessing a terrible mistake. He and three friends had gone four-wheeling in his Hummer in the desert. After a wrong turn led John, who was by now in his early 90s, to realize they were lost, he and his friends huddled together on the cold desert floor all night in an effort to keep warm. When the sun rose, a rescue helicopter arrived to save the group. Finally after much persuasion, he reluctantly agreed to trade in the Hummer for a more practical mode of transportation. Still, he golfed and joyfully reminisced about his past adventures whenever he had the chance.

This year, I didn’t receive a letter on my birthday. I began having a nagging feeling that something was wrong. Just a few days after Thanksgiving, I learned John had died at the age of ninety-six. He left behind his sister, Petie, his second wife, Marlene, seven grandchildren, fourteen great-grandchildren, and of course, many friends just like me.

John was many things: a loyal friend; a talented horseman, hunter, and writer; a loving husband, father, and grandfather; and the kind of surgeon who, when holding the scalpel, treated every one of his patients like he would a member of his own family. But John was also an adventurer who lived life. He welcomed opportunities to meet new people, step outside his comfort zone, and grow personally—even well into his nineties.

I know Dr. John Davis would be thrilled that I am profiling him once again. But he would be even more thrilled if he knew this profile had somehow encouraged each one of you to pursue adventure, to live life with gusto, and to love each other like there is no tomorrow.

As you look forward into a new year, take John’s enthusiasm for life and pass it on to everyone you come in contact with on a daily basis as well as your children, family, and friends. Age well. Embrace adventure. Pursue your dreams. Climb a mountain. Go four-wheeling. Golf until they have to carry you off the course. Be a good person. Because I promise that when the end comes, none of us will ever regret a life well lived.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

How to Open Your Mind to the Possibilities

Photo by  Anton Darius

Photo by Anton Darius

Our mind is a powerful piece of machinery that can work in our favor—and also work against us. When imagining all the possibilities in life, sometimes it is easier to shut down than it is to ask “What if …?” While analyzing opportunities or possibilities, it can be helpful to break each decision down and write down all the pros and cons. Additionally, it is important to be completely honest with yourself during this assessment. You don’t have to show your list to anyone. This is just for you. For example, your question and list might look something like this:

What if I sold my house?

Pros

I would gain freedom from yard work, house repairs, and hefty property taxes.

I would have more time to pursue my passions.

I could invest the profit from the sale for retirement.

Cons

I would lose a solid investment that generally increases in value with each year.

I would lose a significant tax deduction.

I would lose space for my dog to run.

I would lose great neighbors who know me and look out for me.

Now it is time to sit back and evaluate the pros and cons. Are there more pros than cons or the opposite? Are your pros stronger than your cons? Are your pros and cons realistic (R) or are they fear-based (F)? Write an R or an F next to each pro and con. Do you have more Rs or Fs? Finally, ask yourself one last important question:

Am I making this decision for me or to make someone else happy?

Although we all sometimes make decisions based on what is best for our families, it is equally as important to make decisions that fill our happiness tanks and give us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Is this decision taking you to where you want to be? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate again.

Another example might be this question:

What if I take the job?

Pros

I would gain a 20% increase in annual salary and bonus incentives.

I would gain the kind of skills that I need to pursue my dream job.

I would gain a relationship with a superior who is nurturing, kind, and supportive.

I would be free from a negative culture that does not support the growth of its team members.

I would have regular hours that would allow me more time with my children.

Cons

I will lose three weeks of vacation.

I will lose the feeling of security.

I will lose an office with a door.

When contemplating career changes, it is crucial to your decision-making process to evaluate the role based on facts gathered through research, the culture of the prospective company, the personality and management style of your potential boss, and most of all, the gut feeling you get when you walk in the door for the interview. Trust it. It doesn’t lie.

Other sample questions might be as follows:

What if I move to Los Angeles?

What if I end my marriage?

What if my son goes away to college three states away?

No matter what decision looms in front of you in the future, following this process of opening your mind to the possibilities will lead you to the answer. If it doesn’t, perhaps it’s not the right time for a change.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.

 

How to Write a Happy Story Every Day

It can be a seemingly daunting request to write a happy story in just four words. But a recent Twitter hashtag prompted many around the world to take a stab at it. What resulted was an inspiring list of posts that included:

Had courage to change.

Passionately living my dream.

Love makes a family.

No one’s truly alone.

Sometimes even a creative hashtag can become a gentle reminder of how we should be mindfully living on a daily basis. When the sun rises each morning, we all face an important choice whether to write a happy story or a negative one.

Contemplating how to write our own happy story forces us to look inward and find gratitude for love, kindness, or friendship—not things—and also to embrace awareness for our purpose in life. Asking introspective questions of ourselves is a wonderful way to grow personally while making a positive contribution to the world.

Tomorrow, before your feet hit the floor, close your eyes and think about how you want your story to be written. Tap into your emotions and then recognize all you are feeling. Then think about how you want to conduct yourself despite your challenges. How do you want people to remember their interactions with you? What do you want to accomplish that will make you happy?

Keep a journal next to your bed. After you have identified your story for the day, write it down. Some examples might be:

Today I am going to:

Make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Show confidence in all I do.

Treat myself like I would a friend.

Practice positive self-talk.

Believe in myself and my abilities.

Take one step toward making my dreams come true.

Tell my children I love them no matter what.

Remember, you are the only one who can tell your story. Although you may not have the power over unforeseen events or hurdles that may occur along the way, you do have the power over your attitude and how you choose to impact those around you.

Writing your own happy story every day allows you to live in the moment and create the life you deserve. With every sunrise comes a new beginning. Get busy writing.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.