Is This Your Last, Best Hope for A Bold Transformation?
Have you ever felt like it’s too late to change? It’s never too late, and I’ll tell you why right now.
Michelangelo’s David stands strong and powerful day in and day out in Florence, Italy. His otherwordly aura and beauty gathers admirers from all over the world — approximately 1.6 million each year to be exact.
And he used to be no more than a disregarded block of marble.
Before Michelangelo got his hands on a huge block of marble that was lying near the Duomo, two other artists had tried to create David and failed miserably. At just twenty-eight years old, Michelangelo was asked to bring the Biblical hero to life.
The third time was definitely the charm.
In one of the most widely known quotes from the art world, Michelangelo is reported to have said:
“David was already within the marble. All I had to do was release him.”
But was that really the case?
After six long years, I finally returned to Florence last month. Buzzing on nostalgia and too much caffé, JJ and I walked around the city with not much of an itinerary or plan.
On some nights, we ate at restaurants filled with tourists. On other nights, we hit up the supermarket so JJ could make paninis.
I never thought having no set itinerary could feel so bennissimo.
When I think back to the first time I came to Florence six years ago, though, things were not so smooth.
Arriving as a college student in the middle of winter, I remember feeling overwhelmed and alone as I landed in Florence. The new language, my two new rommates who were already good friends, the monstrous Duomo surrounded by tourists who scurried to and fro… It was more than I had bargained for.
Add a long distance relationship to that equation, and I was toast.
I look back on my semester in Florence with great love and warmth, but I know now that I didn’t take advantage of it as much as I could have — all because I was unhappy.
For six years, I dreamt about returning to Florence with the love of my life, happy as a clam, roaming the streets hand in hand. For six years, I dreamt of returning to Florence to experience it as a truly happy person.
Six years later, I turned my dream into reality.
Excuse me for a second while I fistbump the Universe.
Back in January, I wrote down a few goals for myself as most people do for the new year — but I did something a bit different. Instead of categorizing my goals as business goals or personal goals, I mixed the two.
I wrote down goals that would make me happy — goals that I would take me closer and closer to my ideal life.
Describing your ideal life provides a clear path to happiness.
As I sat down that day in January, ready to jot down my goals, one of the ideas I came up with seemed ridiculously out of reach:
“Travel the world with JJ”
Not much to ask for, right? Just two entrepreneurs dropping everything (including their businesses) to go sightseeing and have fun in some far off land…
Easier said than done!
Traveling the world with JJ seemed completely out of reach, almost impossible to achieve, but I wrote it down anyway. Now, ten months later, I’m so glad I did.
A goal I can stretch for is better than no goal at all.
I never thought that in just ten months, I’d travel with JJ to:
- Guatemala City, Guatemala
- Miami, Florida
- Orlando, Florida
- Fargo, North Dakota
- Portland, Oregon
- San Francisco and Napa Valley, California
- San José, Costa Rica
- Madrid, Spain
- Florence, Italy
- Copenhagen, Denmark
I have my American Airlines Elite Status to prove it — and the year isn’t over yet!
I’m incredibly grateful for these experiences because:
- Traveling with JJ is one of the highlights of my life.
- I’m proud of myself because most of those trips were of my own making.
Just last year, I never would’ve thought that I’d accomplish that goal with JJ. I never thought we’d rack up so many funny stories and incredible experiences.
I never thought it was possible — but we made it happen.
What Transformation Do You Crave?
Michelangelo turned a block of marble into the David. I turned my stationary life into a traveler’s life.
What do you want to turn your life into?
Over time, each of us goes through different sets of transformations. Personally, I’ve been through more than I can count. To name just a few:
- From employee to entrepreneur
- From secret journaler to public writer
- From lazy person to athletic person
- From angry and bitter to grateful and kind(ish)
- From late sleeper to morning person
There are more, but I’ll stop there. How did I do it?
I didn’t take on all of these transformations at once. I tackled each, one by one. Most of the time, one transformation opened the door to the next, without me even realizing it.
The only difference between our desires and our realities are our actions.
But you may have many desires, many visions of your ideal life — so where should you start?
One of my favorite proverbs says:
“The one who asks questions doesn’t lose his way.”
Here are a few questions to get you thinking about what kind of transformation is waiting just around the corner:
- What am I most curious about?
- What would I do differently if I knew nobody would judge me?
- What do I regret not fully having, doing, or being?
If you want to learn more about living your ideal life, read this article “What Do Strategy and Values Have In Common?”
How Can You Make It Happen?
When Michelangelo set out to transform his huge, shapeless block of marble, nobody thought he’d be able to do it. After all, two other artists before him had failed miserably.
But, day in and day out, he chipped away at it. Despite what others might have said, he dedicated his energy to making progress.
I don’t have an inside look at Michelangelo’s thought process, but I can give you the second best thing — an inside look at my own thought process!
Because I’m right up there with Michelangelo, right? (Not.)
My experiences may not be as revolutionary as Michelangelo’s but I do know that walking through a transformation is very helpful, so I’ll share my own experience in the hopes that it helps you visualize how to go about your own transformation.
- Reflection. I thought about my ideal life — what it looked like, what it felt like, what it included, and what it left out.
- Planning. I wrote down what aspects of my ideal life I’d like to incorporate this year — even some things that felt out of reach at the time.
- Decision-making. Over the course of the year, I made decisions based on achieving this ideal life.
Sounds simple enough, right?
In theory, yes. In practice, not so much.
Each of those three steps takes a lot of introspection and being honest with yourself. The transformation you desire will be unique to you — a reflection of what you, as a unique person, desire to feel and do in your life.
My hope is that the questions above can help you figure out what you want to do. Making it happen is up to you.
It’s never too late. Just START.
Michelangelo did more than just release David from his block of marble. Michelangelo transformed a shapeless block of marble into a strong, awe-inspiring example of what our humanity aspires to.
He took something that other people had deemed impossible and turned it into his dream.
Transforming your life is up to you, and it isn’t too late.
In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald:
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or too early to be whoever you want to be … I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
These are just my own experiences (and Michelangelo’s). I’d love to hear your stories:
Have you dreamt of transforming your life? What concerns you about making big changes to your life? If you wanted to make a change, what could you do today?
Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments!
Wishing you awesomeness from Managua,