Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Most Important Day of Your Life

This is the first day of the rest of your life.
—Matt Maher

The Most Important Day of Your Life

Every day, I wake up and ask myself a question: “What’s the most important message I could share today?”

It’s a simple, slightly dramatic exercise that reminds me of all the noise and clutter in our world. Will I add to it or cut through with something substantial?

This keeps me on my toes. Makes me check myself.

I believe we all need to be asking these types of questions more often.

Relearning something old

A few years ago, I started a new blog. I had been publishing online for five years prior, but this time something was different. In starting over, I re-learned everything I thought I knew about blogging.

Turns out, you can always learn something new — even about something old.

As a result, I became much better at my craft. All because of starting over.

Every day, we go back to zero. And that’s not such a bad thing. There is something beautiful (and hard) about starting over. It requires courage and perseverance, but it can also be freeing.

Realizing you have to do this every day makes you aware of the distractions. It keeps you sharp. Prevents you from becoming lazy.

Making your message matter

Once on this blog, I wrote a post about The Hunger Games being the future of writing, which stirred quite a bit of conversation and controversy (read it here).

I made a prediction about the future, which may or may not come true, but my point was this: The world is changing, and those who learn to adapt will succeed.

With dwindling attention spans, it’s becoming more difficult to maintain an audience. Those who are sensitive to this will have a better chance at being heard. As Seth Godin explained: “Shorter… doesn’t mean less responsibility, less insight or less power. It means less fluff and less hiding.”

This isn’t about keeping things short. It’s about making your message matter in a world that doesn’t know it needs you.

A chance and a choice

Every day, you have the chance to say something. I’m not going to tell you it has to be brief, but it does have to be important. And you don’t get to decide that. Your audience does.

What is up to you is the choice to be remarkable. As is the decision to be mediocre.

This is the first day of the rest of your life. So is tomorrow. And the next day.

I wonder what you’ll do with it.

Bonus: for a limited time you can grab my book You Are a Writer for free. Click here to get your copy.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

It’s Not Too Late to Become a Writer

Download my free eBook on why now is the best time to become a writer.

In this book, I share everything I’ve learned bout what it takes to start writing for a living — and how you can get started today.

Click here to download the free book now.

  • Nice post, Jeff. I hadn’t thought about the concept of starting back at zero every morning, but I find it refreshing, even if it is in a sort of melancholic way. It kind of gives you the freshness you need to keep driving forward.

  • My problem is that I have so many things that I want to do. I know I need to focus on one at a time. But sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the ideas in my head – that I just stop. Then I go on rabbit trails on Facebook, Twitter – your blog, lol:) But I know I need to be more intentional and focus. So working on this.
    Blessings,
    Janis

    • I’m the same way, Janis, so I understand what you’re saying. I just lay out all the projects in front of me and see which one I feel like working on. Probably not the best solution, but it works. And there are quite a few rabbit trails, aren’t there 🙂 I wish you the best with your writing! Blessings!

      • I think the idea of starting back at zero may help both of us. Maybe I need a list – and look at everything and do something. What do you think? Right now I am working through Tribe Writers and Intentional Bloggers. But I also need to do some posts and some artwork too. Besides the books that are waiting in the wings – that I have put on hold. lol:)

        • Wow, that’s a lot 🙂 I wasn’t able to do tribe writers this year, hoping to next year…. I think that’ll help you the most. But I’m a rookie, and spend my days trying to learn myself. I’ve got a book and also working on becoming a songwriter and starting a blog. I’m putting the blog first, because I figured starting a platform first will guarantee me followers before I come out with a book. But that’s just my opinion 🙂 We both need to start at zero!

          • Yes that is exactly what I heard too. But I didn’t do it that way. I came out with a children’s book in 2012 and have been playing catch up ever since. Yes build your following first – then bring out the book. Great start.

  • Charles S Areson

    Great reminder, Jeff.
    I was thinking that we need to realize everyday is not the same. If its my anniversary, the message is going to be different than if I am teaching at a conference on forgiveness. So it is absolutely true EACH day we have to ask the question.
    I have even put a sticky note as a reminder of it on my desk.

  • Robin Staley

    I have been following Jeff for about 2 years now. In my opinion he is trustworthy. I have never known him to go back on his word. His books are full of practical advice, and no means boring! At some point I would like to be a Tribe Writer but at this time there is too much going on. If you want to be a writer who wants to make a difference, Jeff is one writer to follow. Thank you, Jeff!

  • Every day is a new chance… I recently read a quote by Marcus Aurelius, that touched me: “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

    And another thing: That pic looks great! Are you working with one graphics designer? How did you find him or her? Some of my favorite bloggers seem to have long term partnerships with great designers. I would love to read your experience with this kind of work relationship.

  • Wow, when I got this in my email I started humming the Matt Maher song…. then I came on here, and you quoted it! It surprises me to see that 🙂
    This is a very inspiring article. To be a writer, you really have to believe that you can change the world. I do. And today I’m working on an ebook (because of your suggestions) that discusses that. I just started following Goinswriter, and I really really enjoy your articles.

    These are concepts I had never really thought of before, like going back to zero every day. Great writing! Thanks for sharing!

  • Tom Schenk

    I own a FitBit. I have since January. Evert day it resets to zero. My goal is 13,000 steps per day, which I reach most days. By meeting my daily goal, I have walked the length of the Great Barrier Reef, 1600 miles. By resetting to zero every day, then determining what is the most important thing you can do each day, over the long haul one can really make a difference in the world. Thanks for the encouragement and wisdom.

    • That’s a great comparison…If only we had something like that for writing!

  • Jennifer B

    hmmm, I wonder about the “Every day, we go back to zero.” comment.
    For me, I think every day I start fresh but build on my yesterdays instead of dwelling on them. Without the lessons, loves, experiences, challenges, words, and opportunities of my yesterdays. . .life would seem like a series of re-do days along the lines of the life portrayed in “Groundhog Day.”
    Just throwing that out there. . .not disagreeing. . .just sayin’!
    Btw, THANK YOU for putting this post ‘out there’ – I’m planning to ask myself that same question first thing every day before i’m caught up in the noise! Mil gracias!

  • Donna Freedman

    Here’s my take on it: Every day is a chance to help someone, teach someone, inspire someone with your words.

    Will you ever know if you made a difference in someone’s life? Maybe. Maybe that person will drop you a line to say thanks.

    I’ve been fortunate enough to get e-mails that sound like this:
    “Thanks — I needed to hear this today.”
    “I’m out of debt because of you.”
    “Got a huge laugh out of this and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
    “I have a similar situation going on in my own life and this is helping me crystallize my feelings.”

    Although that’s always a HUGE ego-stroker, I also hope that my work is helping others who don’t write to tell me so. This keeps me motivated to turn out freelance articles and blog posts that have the potential to help people change their lives.

    Here’s my daily writer’s prayer: “Help me to help others.” Can I get an amen?

    • I think of it as ‘every day is a new day’ – a chance to do exactly what you say. Look for ways to help, encourage, learn and become a better person. I believe God wants us to get the most of each day as we can. Blessings, Janis

  • Jeff, thank you for the reminder! Today I found some of my files I wanted to use gone from Google Drive and literally felt that “I got back to zero”. Was irritated first, but then it turned out to be a chance to start it over and make something awesome. You got it!

    • Sorry to hear your files were lost, & being reminded that I’m not the only one with frustrating setbacks, brings me hope 🙂

  • Caroline DePalatis

    Have often shared this thought, Jeff. Thanks for expressing it so well! Each day is such a gift. What will we do with all that has been entrusted us?

  • Robin Young

    I agree that each day is a gift, but each day is not a reset, for every morning we get up, we haul the chain of experience out of bed behind us and drag it into the kitchen and bathroom with us. Each day is still there, anchoring us to ourselves, either excitedly pointing the way forward, or grumbling and dragging its feet. We have to decide which echo we listen to and we have to move to make that voice meaningful and to keep it tat way through the static of a busy day. Especially if we have evil day jobs.

  • “The world is changing, and those who learn to adapt will succeed.” Well said! This is something I’m trying hard to learn. I think I’m still in the process of finding my voice. In short, im working to adapt my writing style to something that is true to my message & connects well with my readers. TY for this 🙂

  • “What’s the most important message I could share today?”
    Hi Jeff,
    I love this question. This one is going up on the wall in my office with chalk. Then when I start to write a blog post, I will have to put my blog topics through that filter. And it will become more obvious each day if I should write about litter boxes, or my favorite felt pens and drawing paper.
    Thank you for sharing your insights.
    (Now, when will you write about dog biscuits.)

    • Emily Tjaden

      What a great idea! I should do that.

  • Hi Jeff,

    I have been your Subscriber for months now but I do not engage here simply because your message is clear right from your newsletter but reading this post simply makes me feel like I should visit your blog often.

    It is true that re-learning old stuff can put you on the right path as I have experienced this myself and truth be told it the choice we make that simply makes us stand out.

    The world is changing and all those who can adapt will succeed. That’s Plain and Clear. Each day is a gift and it gives us the ability to adapt with life because its never the same.

    Thank you for your Post and have a wonderful day.
    Aderemi Dare

  • This concept of a reset is also biblical- the ancient authors tell us that God’s mercies are new every morning. There is something about the sunrise of a new day, washing the world I see with the untattered freshness of the next 24 hours that lets me know I have another chance, another opportunity to be the best I can be. Even if I bring in yesterday’s baggage, God sees me with a clean slate. That’s an awesome restart…..

  • Danie Botha

    Every day, we start afresh. We start new. And that’s not such a bad thing.
    I don’t think we can truly start from zero, because what I did or didn’t do yesterday, can impact today.
    But, here’s the grace part: we do get a new, a fresh opportunity.
    Every morning!
    We do have a clean slate to start with.
    The big/important question is; how will I impact others today?
    We often wish each other “have a wonderful day.”
    Perhaps it will be an even better day, if we “have a blessed day today, and be a blessing to others!”
    In other words: make today count. You have today.
    Thanks for the post, Jeff!

  • Emily Tjaden

    I love this. It’s kind of comforting, actually, to realize that we start at zero every day. As L.M. Montgomery writes in “Anne of Green Gables”, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

    While I suppose the idea of “starting at zero” is discouraging for some, I actually find it really empowering. Thanks for this post. (:

  • Funny (or right on time) that this hits my inbox today as my characters have been learning how to live in the now the present and learn to experience what is going on around them now and to be honest with themselves about what they want. So today the message of starting over starting from scratch is perfect. Now to get the author to live in the moment and experience something new today as well.

    Thanks Jeff this was perfect for me to read today,.

  • It’s funny Jeff; I begin my day with a similar question. For me it’s about what fun things I can do today to spread the love. How can I best express myself and in so doing, help to free people who I’ve known or who I am meeting daily. For the longest time I didn’t comment on your blog. No particular reason, I just didn’t. Then I realized that by connecting with your audience, and by befriending your readers, and most of all, by soaking up your insights, I could become better equipped to reach more interested folks AND to learn something new daily. That zero point you make is spot on.

    I’m learning to be empty and open. Because reading different viewpoints and being empty and open only gives one clarity in their message. I’m learning to focus less on outcomes and more on sharing something fun, valuable and meaningful and more than anything, I am slowing taking the seriousness and tension out of blogging. 1 blog post at a time. Because I struggled for so long with the resistance bit and know most bloggers struggle horribly because they’re resistant to having fun, to speaking their voice and to letting the true self out.

    Today really is important. Every moment is. If we can run with your message and treasure the present I expect more bloggers to make more of an impact. I cut back on posting because I intend to publish only when I have something helpful, entertaining and authentic to say…..because each post is an opportunity to wake bloggers up, to grab their attention span and for me to make a profound impact on their lives. Thanks Jeff for the share!

    Ryan

  • Relearning what we thought we knew about a topic is something we should all do from time to time.

    I am relearning how to drive much more traffic organically rather than doing it mainly from ads.

    Relearning blogging like you did, Jeff, is another change I’ve made in the last few months.

    Importantly we gain new insights into a topic just by hanging around it long enough. What wasn’t clear a year ago may be very clear now – I think they call it ‘having a light bulb moment’. This is why it is foolish for people to flit from one project or business to another. They miss out on all of the wonderful insights that are waiting for them if they had just hung in there long enough.

    To me, playing the long game and paying our dues is really what business success is all about.

    Thanks for your inspiring thoughts, Jeff!

    Kim

  • I love this question you ask yourself, Jeff. I’m going to start asking it myself. What clarity it must bring you! Cutting through the fluff, and getting right to the heart of the matter. Thanks, and happy Thanksgiving.

  • Janelle Keith

    Do we need to fight our purpose or seek validation every day too? Or is that writer’s tension? I often thought so but that is also a challenge isn’t it? We know what we do as writers, but exposure brings acceptance or rejection. Sometimes we fall to defeat everyday in our minds.

  • I think I have a crush! You are becoming one of my favorite people to read. You are lovely with your words, but your insight is inspiring and refreshing in a world that deep thought is considered time consuming and boring. I am loving it. Keep it up!

  • Do you also read a lot of quotes from inspirational figures or other bloggers? Because I noticed some of your words seem like they can stand strong on their own too, kind of like what’s highlighted on Medium. 🙂

  • Daniel Salas

    I believed it was kind of complicated to search for a new adventure everyday. But that is not what I must looking for. I agree with you because the necessity of a purpose it’s what really matters. A single purpose per day can be enough to make us feel thought-provoking and eventually everyday will become our very most important day.
    I am very grateful for your help. Sometimes we need someone else make us notice what is happening in front of us.