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June 10, 2009

Improve Your Life in Just One Week

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Once a year I do what I call a life tune-up. I reassess my goals, my plan and make sure I'm on course to achieve that. It's also a good time to give myself an honest once-over and make sure I like what I see. Am I excelling professionally but not calling my mom enough? How is my fitness? Do I like what I see in the mirror? What do I REALLY want to do with my life? Has it changed since last year? Am I getting enough time with my spouse? Are there any bad habits I've let creep into my life? How about my friends? Am I making enough time for them? Too much time?

I genuinely believe you have to design the life you want. Great stories don't just happen. Do you want to be a venture capitalist? (I do.) So where's that money going to come from? What am I going to do with that success? Travel? Develop new businesses? Where will I live? What kind of friends will we have? What do I want that to feel like on a daily basis? Am I doing things RIGHT NOW, every single day to work towards that goal?

I'm telling you this because it's time again. I can feel it. Time to shake things up and make sure I'm on pace to win in life. If you've never thought this way or done such a thing, I'm inviting you to take a look at my process and inviting you to play along. But I'll warn you, it is absolutely life changing. So be prepared to enjoy life better in just seven days.

Here goes...

Hit Record
TV has to go. Just for a week. Trust me, in this age of TiVo it'll be there at the end of the seven days. But you may find you've been letting too much television into your life. So for just a week, stop watching people live their lives and start living yours.

Do Something Every Day That Scares You. Every. Single. Day.
This one is small but very important. We're trying to establish a habit here. So it's important that every day you take a small step for big results. This can be reaching out to an old friend or mending a relationship. Making a call to ask about a new job. Applying for school. Admitting you were wrong. Accepting an apology - or make one. Having that difficult conversation. Calling your mom. Finishing that personal project. Asking your boss for more responsibility, less responsibility, a raise, a vacation...whatever. Making the appointment. Cleaning the closet. It can be small. It can be large. But do something every day that you DON'T want to do. Look fear in the face and DO IT ANYWAY.

Break a Few Bad Habits
We've all got some form of substance abuse. Caffeine. Gum. Cookies. Candy. Soda. Martinis. Something. Give it up for one week. Personally, I eliminate all drinks but water for the week. I give up coffee and tea. It's not easy, but at the end of the week I feel and look trimmer, feel better and my skin looks radiant. There's something in your diet that you are using as a crutch. Give it up for a week. Just trust me on this one.

Start A Few Good Ones
It's important to do some things you love. Listen to more music. Laugh harder. Surf. Dance. Chat on the phone for hours with an old friend. Run. Kiss a bit more. Hug a bit longer. Go to an art gallery. Skate. Ski. Dine al fresco. Relax by the pool. Whatever it is you love doing but normally don't make time for...do it now. Do some things you'd otherwise be too busy watching mind-numbing television to enjoy. Whatever it is you love, do a bit more of it this week (and hopefully thereafter).

Get Moving
Part of cleaning up your mind requires you to move your body. Never underestimate the mind-body connection. If you workout already, just keep it up. Maybe use this week to change up your activity or take some new classes. Not working out? How about walking 10-15 minutes a day. Maybe take the stairs, not the elevator. Park at the back of the parking lot and walk further. Again, the key here is just to do some kind of movement every day. It's summer...take a swim. Whatever. Just get that body of your moving.

Write it Down
Here's the most important part of all: write down what you want. Get a journal, a notebook, a Moleskin book (ideally, something you can keep and refer to in the future) and write down what you REALLY want out of life. What is your ultimate vision of the future? Forget about the "now" and any reasons you've come up with as to why you'll never have, do or be your best. I want you to write down your ultimate life fantasy.

What would that life look like? Would you live where you currently live? Would you spend your days running a meaningful non-profit? Would you have your own business? Would you have three homes - one in Positano, Italy? Maybe you've got three homes. Would you finally have that pilot's license?

What would the ULTIMATE dream of yours look like. Write it down. Write it down without fear that anyone else will ever see it. This is just for you. It's your private documentation of your ultimate vision for your life.

What would you look like? Would you be more fit? Would you dress differently? What would you be like? Would you be more caring? ore patient? More ambitious? How would you treat your spouse? How would you spend your days?

The key here is to put down as many details as you can. Imagine what you'd look like, feel like, dress like. What are you driving? Where are you living? Do you have children? How happy are you? Is it sunny where you vacation? What do you really, really, really want out of life? And here's the key: free yourself from wondering how on earth any of this will come to pass. This part of the process is about the
"what" without ever wondering about the "how."

For some of you, this may be the very first time you've asked yourself these questions. It might be a lot for you to process. If it takes you all week to write this out, I think that's wonderful. And feel free to keep improving the vision as the week goes on. It may take you a few days to freely allow yourself to dream. But it's important that you get this down on paper. Visible. Readable. Physical. So that you can SEE your heart's desires. It may be tempting to just think about this and not write it down, but it just doesn't work. You have to see it in front of you.

Take A Good Long Hard Look
At the end of the week (or whenever you finish writing your life's wish) read it. Really, really, read it. Digest that information. Read it a few times. What does that say about you? How far from your present situation is this new scenario? This better, more fulfilled you?

And here's the hook: what's it going to take to GET THERE? Figure out what you'll need to do (or think, or believe) to get there. (For example: If you want to be a fitness model but haven't so much as been to a competition, it's time to do some investigating.)

This is where those small fears you've been conquering all week come into play. You'll have knocked out some trivial tasks that have been hanging on your to-do list for too long. You'll be more likely to take bold actions now.

Ask yourself: how can I make those dreams come to pass? What can I do each day to get me closer to those goals. I guarantee, if you ask better questions, you'll get better answers.

Bottom Line
Be fearless this week. Be bold. What's seven days? Aren't you important enough to set aside one week? Isn't your future happiness worth it? The answer is yes.

I'm starting this process on Sunday because I like the Sunday to Saturday format. It helps me frame the experience. It helps e feel organized and in control. I'm inviting you to join me. In the meantime, I'm knocking as much off my to-do list as possible and setting my self up for success next week. Yes, I'm already doing something every day that scares me or that I've been delaying.

So... care to join me?

{image courtesy of DeviantArt}

What the beautiful people are saying...

Franki, you don't know how on time this post is for me!! Thank you so much for writing it and giving me that kick in the pants I need. I am going to give myself this week, this 7 days to get re-evaluate where am I & if I like the journey I'm on.

I'm starting with you on Sunday and will update you on my process.

You are totally rocking it out today!

This was exactly the kick in the pants I needed this afternoon. What a treat! I'm going straight home, cooking myself something healthy to eat, and ticking things off my to-do list. :)

I am absolutely going to do this! As of Sunday evening, next week is my week. And I agree with you on the only drinking water - even if it's hard to get through, it feels amazing once it's done! Thank you for laying this out in the steps/simplicity that you have, I can't wait to take a crack at it.

I loved this post! Thanks so much for sharing it. I'm going to print it out and do it... then pass it along to everyone I know. It's just such a great, concise plan for "life-tuning." I don't know anyone who couldn't use this advice. :)

Ring, ring. Hello, Franki? Umm, I am so sick of my job right now; I'm having a mid-30's crisis. May I please order 1 portion of courage, 1 portion tenacity and a generous sprinkiling of talent so that I can quit this hell to pursue my life's passion!! Thanks for the inspiration!

Outstanding post Franki. Really.

i so agree with you. i am trying to reassess my own life right now too.

Your post came at a good time for me, thank you!

This is go great Franki.. I have a book, i write my goals and achievements in every year.. Guess who forgot to do it this year?

Thanks for getting my mond on track

Hi Franki ~

I'm with you starting Sunday. We can do it!


I'm so happy so many of you will be joining me! I'm knocking things off my to-do list this week like crazy in preparation for next week. I'm pulling out a new journal to use and even busting out a new blue pen. :)

But...I'm also watching all the TiVo I can before my 7 day hiatus from the "tube" begins. LOL. Gotta get my Real Housewives of NJ in ;)

Sounds like Mr. Venti is in for the challenge as well. It's on, baby!

I'm on board! You should publish this in a magazine or something. I'm sure countless others would find your advice and suggestions super inspiring and helpful!

I'm in! I'll start on Sunday with you. I could use a little more movement. This is great! looking forward to this challenge:)

Looks like you struck a chord with this one!

I too, felt inspired reading this and, well, I took out my moleskin and I'm working on writing my dreams now!

It's scary, putting it all on paper but I'm so in. And you know what? I'm starting NOW!

Love your list and am starting on myself! Must exercise and cut out the chocolate (if possible)...and maybe I should sew a bit more also.

Your blog just pushed me to really focus on my business. I will be starting on Sunday.

Simply put...Thank You for the post Franki.
After loosing my restaurant & unable to find a job, I needed something like this to kick start my butt into gear.
I turn 34 tomorrow...a perfect day to start!

GREAT STUFF Franki! I might need to get on this soon.

Franki, this is such an inspiring post! You're so right...we do have design the life we want. Like you I'm reassessing my goals right now and trying to figure out the steps to get to where I want to be in my career and in life. Your advice is invaluable and totally motivating. THANK YOU!

Franki, I'm so glad I stumbled across your post today. I'll be starting with you on Monday. My birthday is smack dab in the middle of the year and I always feel like I get two New Year's celebrations/opportunities because of it and this year it will be great to start my "cleanse, refresh, recharge" a little earlier. I'll keep you posted on how it goes!! Viva Venti!!

This is such an AWESOME entry. Thanks so much! I'm going to print and take on the challenge. :)

great idea! sort of anti-Bridget Jones diet. No wine, cigs, ect. I love to add 2 or 3 drops of Italian Volcano Juice( Costco) to a large glass of ice water. Sip all night. You don't feel deprived of anything. 100% pure lemon juice. Taste great. Sounds crazy but was similar to sipping on wine all night. Was addicted the whole time I was pregnant, i could not just sip H2o all night. I needed flava!

So funny that I found your blog. Actually for the month of June, I committed myself to doing something new every day-- not necessarily something scary, but just something out of my normal sphere or existence... I'm two weeks in and it definitely has changed me already!

I really like your article, I am finding life is just passing me by because I have let it... I searched up how to change your life in a week and came across your article. I think it has good points, that anyone if they really wanted could change their life with these tips. Thanks! I am so ready to try this out!


I appreciate the note! I was taken aback by the amazing feedback from the post. I know that several readers/friends really took it to heart and turned their lives around.

One of the main things you could do (what has always worked for me) is to take a fresh notebook and write out on the first dozen or so pages EXACTLY the you youd like to be if anything were possible. Where the new you would live, what youd look like, what youd feel like, how youd live your life, what youd do with your days, the type of friends youd surround yourself with, the places you would go, the things this you would do. Spend a lot of tie defining this you in as much detail as possible. Really go wild and put it all on paper. Your wildest dreams.

Now... go back and read it and think about what might need to happen to get you from here to there.

I promise you - it may seem simplistic, but time and time again when Ive done this I find that the new reality actually occurs. It has transformational powers, but most people cant even commit to that very simple step. If you can do it, youre pretty much assured success.

Remember: the past does NOT equal the future.

Please keep in touch, Tana!!! Love to hear form you again! :)


franki durbin |life in a venti cup| 636.734.5687|lifeinaventicup.com


Because life is too short to think small.

Hey, I commented before... and I book marked your article on my computer cuz I liked it so much... But I have one suggestion... cuz I am sooooooooooo terrible at this and I am guessing many others to... but mentioning to ban facebook for a week... After I read your article a while back, instead of tv, I banned face book and I got so much more done haha... I actually was more organized!

Bet you didn't expect another comment on this, now did you?

Well, I may be a couple of...years (:P) late, but I think I may still take you up on it.

Am having a hard time right now and this little plan might just be what the doctor (would have) ordered :)

Wow, just found this post and it's such an amazing prompt. I have just recently applied to law school and this post could not have come into my life at a better time. I'm the queen of procrastination, but I'm printing this out to do a journal reflection this weekend and start my week on Sunday. Hopefully there will be some results.

Becky, I cant emphasize enough how much a difference writing it down will make. Go for it!!! Happy you found the post. Let me know if I can help!

write down what you want..I very much enjoyed reading your blog. It is splendid.

Wow I just stumbled upon this and I must say I love it, thank you so much for this exercise and I feel I need this right now!


Thank you, Kate!

I think the Goddess is trying to tell me something, Franki. Checking in with your blog and saw this post again. I am doing this process next week!

Something to say, gorgeous?

psst... subscribe to comments for this post
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