Your calendar is the fortune teller of your experiential wealth. It shows you exactly how much value you can expect to reap in the coming days and months, right there in front of you. When you look at your calendar and your Treasure Map together, you’ll immediately see how much your efforts align with your intentions—or don’t.
We say our goals and dreams are important but words don’t matter. Our choices matter. Our actions matter. Our calendar doesn’t lie.
There’s no magic to it. It’s just a basic truth: what gets scheduled gets done. In one study, researchers found that when participants specified exactly where and when they would complete an intended activity, a stunning 91 percent of them followed through. Your calendar is an essential tool for increasing your experiential wealth.
If you’re thinking you’re in the clear because your calendar is full, hold on a minute. A packed calendar can be just as problematic as an empty one, depending on what it’s full of. To quote Henry David Thoreau, “It’s not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Most busy people are fully booked with urgent needs and other people’s demands—lots of meetings, errands, and obligations but little of what they really want in life. The calendar looks full, but in terms of valuable experiences, it’s actually empty. (This is part of the “I don’t have time” fallacy. You do have time—you’re just using it for the wrong things.)
You need a new approach to your calendar—an experience-rich approach. The things you most want to experience in life should go on your calendar first, before it fills up with other stuff.
Like your endless to-do list. You know: pay the bills, take out the trash, get groceries, schedule your dentist appointment, buy mom a birthday present, finish your presentation for the big meeting… and on and on forever. That’s all life maintenance—stuff you have to do to keep living, keep your job, and keep a clean home. We’re not advising you to skip it. But does any of it mean anything? Are you going to remember it when you’re old?
Nope. But if you’re not careful, it will take up your whole day, every day. So can work, if you let it. If you give a task a week instead of an hour, it somehow becomes more complicated and time consuming. It’s Parkinson’s law: work expands to fill the time available.
So, before you schedule anything else, you’ve got to put the experiences you actually want, even the small ones, onto your calendar. If they’re not on your to-do list and not on your calendar, they’re nowhere, which means they’ll never happen.
Look at your calendar now. This is your “before” picture—what do you see? If it’s not full of valuable experiences, don’t expect them to appear out of thin air. You have to put them there. That’s what living intentionally is all about.
For example, in our Life Experiences Survey, thousands of people said that skydiving was one of the top three things they wanted to do in their lifetime. What’s interesting is that skydiving isn’t really very hard to do. Is it scary? Hell yeah. But it’s available in most places and only requires a few hours and a couple hundred dollars. Anyone can manage that, even if it takes a year to save up the money. But most people have it on their mental “someday” list, so they never bother to actually find out what it takes or make a plan to do it.
About Bridget Hilton
Bridget Hilton creates tools to help teams and leaders connect in the workplace through rich experiences and shared goals. Her keynote helps Fortune 500 companies navigate topics of mental health and wellness, burnout, employee belonging and connection, inspiration, motivation, and goal setting. Her book Experiential Billionaire and card deck Treasure Maps is out now. She is located in Los Angeles, CA and is booking keynotes and workshops worldwide now.