What would you do in one hundred days to change your life, to make you feel good about yourself, to make you happy? What could you do? I don’t mean cycling from Land’s End to Vladivostok, or rowing across the Atlantic. Things like that take planning, organisation and (I suspect) a team of supporters, runners, and a camera crew to document the experience for sale to ITV. What I’m talking about are things that you can do, starting right now, to change you life in one hundred days.
In one hundred days you could transform yourself from a couch potato to someone who can comfortably walk five miles a day; from a casual runner to a marathon runner; from someone who’s scared of the water to someone who can swim ten lengths of a pool. In one hundred days you could lose a stone in weight (that’s 14 pounds, North Americans) without too much effort. You could learn to drive a car, ride a bike, paint a still life. You could knit a jumper, learn to play a musical instrument, learn the basics of another language, read War and Peace (and you should – it’s worth the wrist ache). You could craft a love poem to your heart’s desire, or take a photograph a day to create a momento for a beloved family member. You could improve your posture, your flexibility, you cooking skills, your love life. At fifteen minutes a day, you could write 20,000 words of your memoir/novel/PhD/screenplay.
So what would you do?
From today, from this every moment, I have one hundred more days in formal employment. One hundred more days until I’m back to being a full time stay-at-home home-educating parent. One hundred days to the official start of this great sailing adventure we’ve been dreaming about and planning for years. What will I do in one hundred days? I’ll work. One hundred days of teaching, marking essays and exams, and a field trip to New York. During that time we’ll also move back on board Carina and try to make moving out of the house and onto the boat as stress-free as possible (we have it down to a fine art now).
In one hundred days I will also write and plan and set in motion our lifestyle that will begin on Day 101. I’m not naive. I realise I am unlikely to make a living from writing, and Julian and I will have to follow other avenues of employment. But that won’t stop me working hard on my fiction, non-fiction and academic writing, and investigating other writing-related money earners. In one hundred days I will further develop my portfolio, submit my work and ideas to publishers and keep plugging away, 15 minutes, half an hour, and hour a day.
In one hundred days I will cherish the friends I have made during my almost three years in Exeter; and I’ll also cherish Exeter. There are places I haven’t been to yet – the Bill Douglas cinema museum, the Quay (a wet December afternoon doesn’t count) – and places I want to savour again – the walk to and lunch at the Turf Hotel, the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. I want to drink beer with my friends and walk on the hills up behind our house. I will not leave Exeter with regrets for the things I haven’t done. I will strive to, as Kipling wrote, ‘Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run’.
One hundred days…how will you have changed your life by May 31st?