This time of year it’s fun to remember the Christmases when my kids were young, and I’d venture many of us can recall similar experiences—whatever holiday they were part of. The night before, each of them would be practically leaping out of their own skin in excitement. Falling asleep was a near impossibility as they laid in their beds anticipating the next morning—finding the cookies they’d left for the man in red (with carrots for the reindeer) half-eaten, seeing the colorful wrapped gifts under the tree, wondering what new and fun thing they’d be creating fantastical scenarios with. It was their giddy, animated exhilaration that was so fun to observe—their imaginative suspense about how it would all reveal itself. When was the last time you felt anything close to that in your life? When was the last time you really looked forward to something—felt the thrill of anticipation?
Too often, I think, we relegate true, heady enthusiasm to childhood as if we should be beyond that level of emotional engagement by the time we’re old enough to vote, get a mortgage and pay taxes. Life at that point, we assume, becomes about responsibility and security more than lofty visions. For those with children, it might feel even more of a duty to relinquish “our turn” with exhilaration—to unconsciously pass down and pass on the anticipatory fantasies so we can focus on grounding “real” life with all the practical necessities for our families.
And, yet, I think we do ourselves an injustice when we do so.
Because I think it’s essential at every age to have something to look forward to. Some even say it’s the key to happiness.
I’m not talking about the graspy, stubborn entitlement that convinces us we deserve X, Y or Z and that life won’t be worth living without any or all of the above. I’d personally file that mindset under immaturity.
What I do mean is continually risking a vision in life. We don’t give up the right to ask for what we want—let alone to dig in and realize what that even is—the day we declare ourselves (or society defines us) as adults. And, sure, we can “want” a given material thing (and, man, does the outside culture relentlessly push that this time of year!). While there’s nothing at all inherently wrong with that, I’m really talking about a grander ambition here.
When we were young, those “sugar plum” visions (e.g. chocolate snowmen, Legos, Light Brite or whatever it was for you) was enough to fuel hours of fantasy. What would make life genuinely more fulfilling, more exciting, more enriching, more breathtaking for you at this point in your adulthood?
Typically, most people have things they’ve always wanted to experience, that they’ve put off for one reason or another, that they always considered out of reach. And, yet, part of them sits at that toy shop window, peering in at the display that showcases that something they’ve always pined for. What is it that keeps you looking and wondering?
What would give you something new to live and work for—beyond the daily diligence toward basic security? Is it taking the trip of a lifetime? Is it being in top shape? Is it losing 40 pounds? Is it moving into the new career field you’ve always wanted—or going back to school? Is it taking back your health from chronic pain or fatigue? Is it having more time with your family or moving to a new destination that offers you more of the lifestyle you want?
As we head into the holidays this week, take some time to think about that for yourself. Give yourself what I would call the gift of intention—of something to look forward to. And if that vision has anything to do with health, vitality, fitness or fulfillment, keep our upcoming 21-Day Challenge (that starts January 11th) in your back pocket—and stay tuned for more directions, guidance, contests, prizes and more. A great way to begin a new year—and a new vision if I do say so myself.
Happy holidays, everyone! I hope you share what you are looking forward to this coming year. Enjoy your week and celebrations.
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About the Author
Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.