How To Live An Extraordinary Life

Lots of people tell me they wish they could do what I am doing. Most people have distant goals, a bucket list of crazy things they want to do in their lifetime. It’s time to stop being a thinker and start being a doer (my Dad’s going to love that line).

If you want to have an extraordinary, epic, exciting life – a life worth writing about – here are the steps to achieve it.

1. Decide you want to live a crazy, fun, thrilling life. Pretend that the world really is going to end in December 2012. If that happens, are you going to look back and be happy about how you spent your time? You need to make a conscious decision about the kind of life you want to live. You decide. It’s your choice. Say it out loud to reinforce it: “I want to live an extraordinary life.”

2. Become debt free. Get rid of your anchors and start leading a simple life with less stuff.

3. Write a list of all the things you want to do before you die. Really, writing it down makes a difference, don’t hold it in your head. You can make it a crazy list – I’m not going to hold you to completing it all before December 2012! Be outrageous. List all the places you want to go; list the things you want to learn how to do; list the experiences you want to have. Jump out of a plane, go on a safari, learn another language — all that stuff.

4. Calculate how many years you think you have left to live. Look at your list and think about which things you can do when you are older and perhaps less able physically. If you have “run a triathlon” on your list you may want to put that up front whereas “try frog legs” might go at the end.

5. Now, pick something off your list that is remotely feasible to accomplish by December 2012. Remember if you are 40 years old and you have 40 things on your list, you better get going on one of those things right now.

6. Baby steps. Just do one thing today that gets you a tiny bit closer to that goal. Want to go on a safari? Go read up about the different safaris that are out there. At least twice a week you need to take a baby step. Find out how much it will cost, refine exactly what and where it is and how you’re going to get there.

7. Start ruling out all those excuses that just popped into your head. In fact, write them down, that will make putting a line through them really fulfilling. Don’t have any money for your safari? Then start saving for airfare while you research volunteer opportunities. Is all your time already allotted for this year? Then you better pick “jump out of a plane” off your list because you can probably do that in a weekend. There’s something on that list you can do this year.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers or anything. I’m just sharing what I went through before I realized that I had better do something outrageous before my butt got stuck in my lazyboy. Now at least when the end of the world comes in December 2012 I will have accomplished one of my big, crazy, thrilling, adventurous goals.

In case it isn’t obvious, I picked “become a full-time travelling photographer” off my list. I’m not worried about making money at it right now. I’m just living the life because it’s extraordinary and thrilling and I’ll never regret that.

I don’t want to disappoint anyone who comes here for daily photography inspiration … so here is today’s photo from Everglades National Park in Florida (a photo that wouldn’t be in my collection without that crazy list.)

Alligator, Everglades National Park, Florida

A baby alligator at Pine Glades Lake. Please click the image to view a larger version.

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  1. says

    Great advice Anne. Dealing with excuses is probably the biggest step most can take in living an extraordinary life. It seems like there is always an excuse not to do something that scares us or pushes our normal boundaries.

    I’ve really been enjoying your blog and especially your photography.
    Matt recently posted..Geese Flyover at SunsetMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Matt, thank you so much for your kind comments. You are right, there is always an excuse. We just have to push ourselves past that and always ask if we are living the life we really want. If your life could be anything you want .. what would it be?

      • says

        Great question Anne! I think we all have an idea of what we want our life to be like but first we need to actually believe that anything and everything is indeed possible. I’m a firm believer in the power of positive thinking although there are plenty of times when I fail to practice it myself.

        I’m working toward my goal of more photography and travel although I try to focus less on the goal and more on the journey to get there.

    • says

      :) Thanks so much Russ, I guess it helps to understand the people who are not happy since I’ve been there. It takes effort to bring happiness into your life, but it can be done.

  2. says

    Great list Anne! I’m a big proponent of baby steps (mostly because I’m too lazy or tired to take large ones…) I’m still trying to decide if I actually want to jump out of an airplane or just shoot from one, the ‘ol stomach doesn’t like to be tickled as much as it used to back in the day. So things to save up for include: New computer, Lenses, Trip to Italy and Korea.

    Are you sure about #2? my list seems to contradict that one 😉

    Thanks for giving my foggy Friday brain something to think about today.
    Have a great weekend!
    Howard J recently posted..Week 4 of 52 – Self PortraitMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Howard! Thank you for your comments. And yes, I am absolutely sure about #2!! Because if you are in debt it’s probably because you own too much stuff and when you have stuff you have to clean your stuff and maintain your stuff, store your stuff, and if your stuff isn’t completely paid for you have to stay in your current job situation. Not that all current job situations are bad – just that it removes choice. You don’t have the choice to live as a hobo, or go teach english in a foreign country, or become a park ranger or whatever. I hope you come up with some interesting ideas to achieve your goals!

    • says

      Hi Dan, thank you so much. It’s a little hard to believe motivational speaking could be in my future but the more I think about it the more I think I would like it. I always liked giving presentations in my work life and it’s like how your learn via teaching, it would reinforce the motivation within me. Thanks for all your encouragement along the way.

    • says

      Kaz :) that’s so funny. I could have eaten an alligator steak, I saw some on the menu, but I couldn’t do it. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food. I might up and change my whole life, but eat weird food .. uh no. !

    • says

      Thank you so much Patricia, I am amazed reading these comments from people talking about inspiration and motivation and me all in the same sentence. I’m not sure I’m the same person I used to be in my old life. Oh wait, that was the point wasn’t it? I think I really am a happier person now.

  3. says

    Your post is a great inspiration Anne. My wife and I have been keeping our bucket list for a few years now. Each year we take at least one big (2 week) trip to somewhere in the US or Canada. We’re doing exactly what you suggested – the ones that require being in decent shape are on the top. This year is Glacier and Waterton for two weeks of hiking and shooting. Next year who knows. The problem with this approach is we’re only ticking off a few each year and add more to the list all the time. I’m afraid we’ll go to our graves with a long list still to do, but we’ll have a great time getting there.

    Keep the posts coming and watch out for the gators!
    Richard Siggins recently posted..Close To HomeMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Richard, thank you so much for your visit and comments. It’s great to read about people who are active and doing exciting things with their lives. So many people only talk about taking trips every year. I went to Glacier this year, but missed the Waterton side, so that is on my list. I think it’s like Len said, doing this kind of thing is going to make you live longer so you will be able to do even more of the things on your list.

    • says

      Hi Logan, wow, someone said I have a good attitude! Something new happens every day. It just reminds me of all the times in my much younger years when I was told I had a bad attitude 😉 Thank you so much for your visit and comments.

  4. says

    You make a good point about moving to the top of your list the things you are physically capable of doing now, because you may become less physically able to do them later. And you’re so right about writing down your goals. You wind up working toward them subconsciously even if you aren’t doing it consciously.
    Gray recently posted..Getting Around BarcelonaMy Profile

    • says

      Hi Gray, thank you so much for visiting the blog and leaving your comments! I was really happy to have found your blog recently and your post about New Orleans was most timely. I am there now and going to see some places you recommended. Thanks again for stopping by.

    • says

      Hi Mario, thank you very much for your visit and comments. I’m so glad you found the post inspiring. Yes, absolutely, get rid of your debts so you can be free! Just remember every time you go to buy something “debt free, debt free” because it feels really good.

  5. says

    Hello Anne,I just found your site via photoblog, I was curious to see other photographers blogs and I came across yours by chance. Lucky me! :)

    I’m would love, one day, to live the life of my dreams. In fact, I cherish the dream of living of my photos while writing, I have many other projects in mind. But to succeed, I must plan ahead, do not jump on a sudden impulse.

    I will explore your blog, I see if you have any others tips on going pro.

    I’m really happy I found you! :)
    Anne Jutras recently posted..Égarée Dans Le TempsMy Profile

  6. Brooklyn says

    Great post! couldnt agree more. i love the “live life with passion” bit. i think if you approach life with this mantra, and aim at taking something great from each and every day, there is no way you can fail. live the dream!
    Brooklyn recently posted..learn photographyMy Profile

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