Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Importance of Numbering Your Days: An Interview with Robert D. Smith

Chances are you’ve not heard of Robert D. Smith — and that’s a problem.

Because everyone who’s ever met Robert agrees he’s a well-kept secret. And today, we’re going to hear from him and why he numbers each and every day of his life.

20,000 Days & Counting By Robert D. Smith

20,000 Days & Counting by Robert D. Smith

In this interview, I talk with Robert about his first book, 20,000 Days and Counting, and why we all need to be more aware of how many days we’ve lived. (Keep reading to find out how you can win a free copy of Robert’s book.)

Listen to the interview

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Click here to download the MP3.

About THE Robert D.

Robert D. Smith

THE Robert D.

Several months ago, Robert invited me to come visit him at his “office.” When I pulled into a residential driveway and entered a house full of people, I wondered if I was in the right place. There were candy jars in every room.

As we got to talking, I was immediately struck by the way Robert lives his life. He’s someone who soaks up every moment and inspires those around him to do the same.

The reason you don’t know this man is because for the past 30 years, he’s been the guy behind the success of best-selling authors and speakers like Andy Andrews. And that anonymity was just fine by him, until recently when he felt compelled to write a book.

The book, as you’ll hear in the interview, came about when Robert realized he was about to live his 20,000th day — and almost missed it. This was a sobering realization, and what he did next changed the way he approached every day after.

What we talk about in the interview

In this interview, Robert, and I discuss:

  • How many days you’ve lived and why it matters
  • The reason you should always eat dessert first
  • How Robert helped Andy Andrews become a New York Times best-selling author and sought-after public speaker
  • Why failure isn’t as bad as you fear
  • How everyone has a brand (even writers)
  • What rejection tastes like (since Robert eats it for breakfast every day)

Number your days (and win a free book!)

Realizing our lives are comprised of actual days helps us understand how real change happens — slowly and intentionally — and how every day is an opportunity to do something extraordinary.

If you’ve never counted the days you’ve been alive, doing so just might change your life, like it did for Robert.

If you want to learn to number your days and are interested in winning a free copy of Robert’s book, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go here to calculate how many days you’ve been alive. (Example: I’ve been alive for 10,889 days.)
  2. Leave a comment here with the answer, along with an answer to the question below.
  3. Share this article on Twitter, Facebook, or the social network of your choice.
  4. Wait patiently while I pick five random winners in the next 24 hours (winners will be chosen by 9am, Jan. 22, 2013 and contacted via email).

How many days have you been alive, and how are you going to make today extraordinary? Share in the comments.

Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links.

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/3PNHFOKP2C6IPTXAD2NIPSXDQ4 anjolcake

    writing my business plan!

  • http://EllenDebenport.com/ Ellen Debenport

    21,646. Trying to remember HOW I’ve lived them instead of obsessing about what I  have to show for them.

  • Angela

    I’ve been alive 13, 737!  I will make this day extraordinary by serving my family and not giving up on my dreams!  In my blog I write about this very topic and because of your encouragement I keep going.  http://www.noordinarydays.com

  • Pam

    13783 days.  Will spend today accomplishing one of my New Year’s resolutions, plus savouring a long walk with my dog

  • DaynaBickham

    I have been alive 13, 914 days! I have a hard enough time remembering if I am 38 or 39….I am not sure if this will be easier or harder….lol. Today I will try and share what is closest to my heart and invite others to do the same. I will strive to hold only the moment and let the past alone. I will live with a dream in my heart, my hand to the plow and my trust in the Lord. 

  • Carla Moberg

    22590 days. Today I will celebrate life by honoring my husband’s birthday. We lost our only son three years ago. Loss makes numbering one’s days even more important; each day is precious to me now.

  • Chaz

    With 21169 days and counting, call me a work in progress. Thanks to the practice of meditation, I have learned more about myself in the past year than in the previous 30.  I will be spending this day off with my wife, biking through the fog. 

  • Dave

    19365 days gone by. Today I’ll make extraordinary by making sure that each and every day from now on, I recognize for what it is: a blessing. And today I make special by spending my time pursuing my dream of writing.

  • http://kimanziconstable.com/ kimanzi constable

    Life is too short to waste even one day, that’s what inspired me to finally chase my dreams this past year. Today I will write, teach, coach, parent, and husband, got to make the most out of today :) 

  • http://www.jonstallings.com/ Jon Stallings

    17571 Days – for me I am investing as much as I can into my family and my future. 

  • http://twitter.com/wls1961 Wanda Simpson

    18,919! How time flies. Every day is extraordinary. I look for it in the faces I see, whether they are smiling, frowning or blank. God made me for a purpose and I keep moving forward on that every day I have. Here’s to the next 18, 919!

  • Eric

    I would so love this free book.  I have been alive for 14,162 Days now.  Wow!!!!  I am going to start tracking my days and milestones in a journal now.  I also started a DREAM JOURNAL, which is like a written record of my bucket list.  All such great deas…..

  • Sam Edge (Notes from the Edge)

    17001 Days! I am going to make today extraordinary by spending at least 1 hour playing with my youngest daughter (who is 123 days old today) and see what I can learn from her.  

    I will then post my experience on http://www.edgeynotes.com Notes from the EDge to hopefully make someone else’s life extraordinary.

  • http://twitter.com/FamilyParables Ryan Curtis

    I’m on day 11,135. Today, I’m going to listen very carefully to my wife and three children. Love is best spoken with actions.

  • http://EvaPScott.com/ EvaPScott

    19,756 days. Today I started boxing up teaching materials from a good portion of those 19,756 days to give to a Third World country that I hope will help others. 

    I am trying to downsize now so my daughter won’t be stuck trying to “figure out” what to do with a lifetime of accumulation.

    Trying to get the things I own out of the way of what I want to do for people.

  • 221bwhite

    15108 days! I have yet to count how many of them were spent before getting married nearly 16 years ago and before two kids…my guess: I wasted too many before waking up.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Interesting to see this post today! I’ve been hearing Robert D on multiple podcasts and actually talked about him last night with a friend. Crazy!

    Anyways, I’ve been alive for 11298 Days

    I’m not sure how I’ll make today extraordinary. I’m just concerned with making it home in one piece thanks to the snow that’s been falling all day today. 

  • Jade

    Today, I have been alive for 7717 days. My day has unfortunately been and gone before I had a chance to read this inspiring blog. I have stressfully spent it, with many cups of tea and biscuits, over a University assignment. It has made me realise that you definitely should live for every moment (as the well known saying goes). If I had not wasted time previously dithering about my work, I would have spent today out in the snow with my loved ones (my assignment gone and submitted) – seeing my little brother’s face light up as he looks out of the window and then attempting to cower away from him flying balls of snow. It would sound an unproductive day on the surface, but it would create more of those special moments that are truly important to life.

    Of course, if I could do anything whatsoever, I would take each person that I love and do something to light up their face every single day.  

  • Greg Manning

    11587 days.  I will make this day extraordinary by attempting to truly find positives in every situation and not letting the things that aren’t perfect bother me.

  • http://twitter.com/nash_jen Jennifer Nash

    16262 days. I will make this day extraordinary by focusing on what I can accomplish regarding  building my first WordPress website and not what I can’t instead of feeling overwhelmed and panicked. For what I can’t, I will ask for help, starting at a WordPress meetup tonight.

  • Harvey

    Wow,  I have lived 20303 days and yet it seems like just 13,000.  I am committed to give something away every day.  Today I am going to give away 10 things.

    Today is the first day of writing for me.  Starting with a blog and moving into a book.
     
    Today I am going to tell the people around me that I love them and not take them for granted.

  • Jane Manthorpe

    17523 days. Today I am going to make this day extraordinary by starting my blog and sharing my expertise and knowledge that will help others to have superior health and well-being. To share my story of my journey to health so to inspire others to take action to gain their superior health and be the best person they can be. Today I share love, support and companionship to all who wish to hear and read and make a difference in their life’s.

  • Mary Ellen Wright

    I’ve lived 24,960
    days.  Yikes‼  Robert
    is a mind bender to be sure.  Having
    shut down time after time in my 68 years, I am going to start looking for the “30
    Nos” and celebrate them instead of letting them push me into the corner.  Today I am beginning this course,
    show my husband how much I value him in every way I can think of, receive
    this day with joy, and bless everyone that comes to mind.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Wasn’t that amazing? Love that 30 now story.

  • Linda

    I’ve lived 21212 days so far.  About 1/4 of the way on the journey I discovered the power of the Word of God to transform a mind and light a pathway.  It has been a journey of learning the importance of not only God’s Word, but words in general.  So today, I give first place to God’s Word in my life.  I will be careful about the words I allow to take root in my mind today. Whether writing or speaking, I will be mindful to choose the simplest and most direct word for the occasion.  These actions alone will move me further along the path I am destined to travel than many other actions I could choose to take.

  • Julie

    15,322 days! Today’s the day I’m going to invent a Paleo lunch food that my picky eater will happily take to school.

  • http://twitter.com/ckswarriorqueen Claudia K Sargent

    21246 Days. I finished reading The Age of Miracles and am in process of re-reading Wrecked. I was re-Wrecked almost two weeks ago, and am blogging about it, despite the entreaties of others.

  • Summer Chevalier

    12,642!  Hug & Kiss my kids and husband.  Put in a good effort at the office and an even better effort at home.  Write, to experience life twice.

  • Sonia Barton

    15507 Today on my list was to clean the back yard so that this year, I actually get to plant my garden on time and not late so that I end up with more than 5 tomatoes and 1 squash. (I live in Indio, CA near Palm Springs and we are already getting warm).

  • Jennifer Taylor

    18070.  Continue to give priority to submitting to how God is working in my life right now and to trusting him to work all things for good.  Considering carefully what I allow into my mind and into my thinking.  

  • Johnny Lee Phillips

    Today is my 12230th day on planet earth.  I have made today extraordinary by working on my brand and by spending time with my wonderful family.  I intend to join Platform University today to make my day even more extraordinary!!!  Thanks for the blog today Jeff!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rgrbrggs Roger Briggs

    I am 11,728 days old. I will make today extraordinary by helping my students make their days extraordinary.

  • http://twitter.com/maberica JD Maberry

    I have been alive for 13,742 days. I will make today extraordinary by making sure this day has more impact than day 13,741 had. 

    Great interview. I like the concept of considering how you would handle today if it were your last.  

  • Lauriemcclary

    18,546-going to see different ways that God is showing me that He loves me.

  • Ingrid

    22009, continue to surround myself with people who celebrate each other

  • Melanie Fischer

    14, 035 Take a deep breath and LOVE today for what it is!

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    21, 165 days (and counting!). Extraordinary has already happened. I learned something new and now I’m going to implement it.

    Thanks, Jeff, for once again for offering life-changing information.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      A pleasure, Tom.

  • Nacolemans

    I have lived 12,015 days. Reality has hit me today! Although I have 4 beautiful kids and a wonderful husband, In all my days I’ve been alive, I have not done anything for myself. Today, it is time to make a change. Thank you for opening my eyes and ultimately changing the remaining days of my life.

  • BWillie

    I have lived 19,546 days.  I wonder how many of them have been used to their fullest potential. Today as I was able to work with a school full of wonderful children eager to learn and teachers eager to teach.  I love being their principal!

  • TJS

    Day 16426.  Went for a 7+ mile run in the snow, then spent the rest of the morning relaxing with my husband.  I try to spend everyday appreciating all the things that can so easily be taken for granted (Such as the health and ability to run, having a supportive husband,  a warm, safe home, a day with no obligations).

  • David Nwator

    I have lived 8,503 days. Wow. That has actually given me a lot of perspective. I need to start planning towards my 10,00oth. 

    • HannahBWYA

      I love the idea of planning for the 10,000th! Mine isn’t coming up for another couple of years but it’s definitely something to think about :) 

  • http://susanstilwell.com/ Susan Rinehart Stilwell

    Wow, it’s sobering to think I’ve been around for 18428 Days

  • Monica

    10,568 days. And I’m going to make today extraordinary by valuing every remaining minute of it!

  • Teresa R

    I have been alive 20,552 days. I am going to make today extraordinary by noticing everything going on around me

  • Jdkelly499

    I am 14,708 days young. I am listening today. I am hearing what my kiddos are telling me and I am theirs for the day. So far we had a pizza party, played basketball and 4 square and are planning a breakfast dinner.

  • Aaron

    15,263 days. And I’m going to apply for better jobs today.

  • Laurie Grathen

    Wow….paradigm shifting stuff.   On my 21, 477th day I’m going to get off my butt and do what I can with what I’ve got.   I don’t have to change the world.   But I sure can change my world. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Amen, Laurie.

  • HannahBWYA

    I’ve been alive 9246 days and I’m looking forward to number 9247 :) I am going to make the rest of today extraordinary by consciously choosing to live in the moment, savour my experiences and not sweat the small stuff. 

    Thanks for an interview that really reframes the concept of time :) 

  • http://www.peterdehaan.com/ Peter DeHaan

    20,139 days for me — and counting.

  • http://twitter.com/Karoline_Ott Karoline

    5,746 days. Not much compared to most people reading this, but when I step back and think about the fact that I have walked this earth for over 5,000 days; I feel like a dinosaur. Today I am going to treat my loved ones with the respect they deserve, and utilize my free time. asateenwriter.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/Karoline_Ott Karoline

    5,746 days. Not much compared to most people commenting on this post, but it has only made me realize that I (hopefully) have many days ahead of me. And I am going to make ALL those days extraordinary by doing something my future self will thank me for. asateenwriter.blogspot.com

  • JeanneLauree

    I have been alive 23396 days,17 hours 20 minutes…that also equates to 2,021,476,750 heartbeats!  Today was extraordinary because it was filled with ordinary people and ordinary tasks experienced in extraordinary passion for love and life.  I had a morning filled with coaching calls, a team conference call and lunched while visiting with my amazing Sister.  In the afternoon, I responded to the call to bring jumper cables to my daughter which meant that I got to see her, the grand kids and have fun with them.  I can’t imagine how the evening will go as I spend time with the courageous residents at Cirque Lodge Treatment Facility and listen to their stories of recovery and family healing.  I am certain that my bedtime prayers will be filled with the usual gratitude for the surprising life I get to live in my walk with Holy Spirit as my guide.

  • Elisa Choi

    I have been alive for 9686 days.  Wow. Amazing. Never thought about actually numbering my days. Although I have been aware of the limit of our days on earth.  I will make today extraordinary by using my time wisely on my important work…and at the end of the day to be an inspiration and spread optimism, hope and prayer to those in need. 

  • http://elseyanne.blogspot.com/ Kelsey

    Day 7864, hope to spend it pursuing people who matter. 

  • Amy

    11,423 days, as of tomorrow. Lord willing, tomorrow will be extraordinary because of what happens when the women of my Life Group gather to pursue God fully. When He shows up, it’s always extraordinary!

    Also, I will look to surprise someone with unconditional love when they expect it the least.

  • Christie

    20856! Wow I am going to be 21 again and I am so excited. In 144 days I want to celebrate! Tomorrow I will make plans to commemorate this newfound milestone.

  • http://www.ericvonmizener.com/ Eric von Mizener

    19121 days, and this one was extraordinary because I put up the second post in my new blog and went to the gym for the first time in twenty years.

  • Ed Loria

    9019; A little sad I missed my 9,000 birthDAY but happy I heard this talk and can now experience life this way. Thanks!

  • http://www.EmbraceEveryday.com/ Jenny B

    16683…my goal as of late has been to ensure that I leave a legacy for my children, and these numbers sure have hit home the importance of making sure as not to take any day for granted.

  • FranYo

    21,677 days…My goal is to make the next 21+K days just as wonderful & productive as the past. I feel proud of my life, yet know the possibilities are endless. I am blessed.

  • Kyle

    20,313 days….. I made today Extraordinary for me by doing something Extraordinary for someone else today! It’s just crazy when you get more out of giving that they get out of receiving.

  • Tristan R

    9801 days alive thus far. I’m going to make tomorrow awesome by eating dessert first (in this case going surfing before work) and by contacting several people for some information to help with my plans for the future.

  • http://www.vidyasury.com/ Vidya Sury

    18,290 days and I am celebrating today by clearing out my closets and donating everything I haven’t used for three months. Yes, it is the right time, because it is winter here and my street dwellers will be happy. I am blessed to be alive and be able to make a difference in others’ lives.

    Robert’s book sounds terrific. Thank you, Jeff, for the great intro.

  • http://messymiddle.com/ Amy Young

    16462 (almost a palindrome!) — my dad sent me flowers when I was 10,000 days and wrote me a very touching card. Today, I’m working on a post that shares with my trip I am stepping into my own River Jordan … I’ve resigned from my current position. If feels extraordinary and risky :)

  • Glenhughes2000

    I want to say I’ve been alive 23,576 days, and yet I realize a lot of those days were spent, but not truly lived.  So… Starting today, I will try to be more conscious of how I live what days I have left. 

  • http://christopherjwilson.com/ Chris Wilson

    I think I posted already but I’ll try again.
    I was on day 9673 yesterday when I read the post. Instead of saying what I wanted to do I decided to just do it. I went home and finished my first ebook, and submitted it Kindle Direct Publishing. Then I finished off my new blog (Bloghabits.com simple habits to improve your blogging). I worked for about 3 hours straight to get it done but I finally finished them both.
    Honestly If I don’t win I don’t care. I’ve already won by doing those two things 

  • Gerad Forte

    Today I am 13,914 days. What an amazing gift. I will make today special by savoring each moment and being present.

  • Daniel Krey

    8, 288 Days and Counting. 

    I helped out two students become more confident by introducing to them the concept of “Rejection Therapy.” 

    It was fun seeing them take the challenge of saying hello to everyone in school. One student also took the dare to ask for a hug from a stranger. 

    I’m glad that the students dare greatly and challenged themselves. :)

  • Tatumlight

    20,096 days as of today 1/22/1013. Today I will write, I will teach middle schoolers how to read,  I will care about people, and I will create something beautiful (knitting, beading, etc.). Yes, these are my goals most days, but actually doing them all would be extraordinary!

  • Lwwarfel

    I’ve been alive for 21496 days. I know I’ve wasted many of them in pursuing selfish pleasures and self-centered goals. But God has redeemed me, and He’s helping me make each day count. My pastor challenged me on Sunday with two questions to ask myself each morning: What can I do to make God happy today? What can I do to help others today? Changing the focus makes all the difference.

  • Jenna Benton

    15565- Today I will focus on someone else without worrying about my image.

  • http://www.shannonmilholland.blogspot.com Shannon Milholland

    15490

  • http://brettcohrs.com Brett

    15097 Days. I do hope to process my inbox to zero by 5pm eastern time!!!! :-) And then go home and have fun with my wife and kids because they’re awesome.

  • femmeflashpoint

    17,773 days for me. Thanks so much for introducing Mr. Smith’s work to me. :)

    femmeflashpoint

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    10,733 days. I’m recovering from surgery and have spent a lot of time in bed reading God’s Word. What better way to live out our days. 

  • Akhtar

    7567 days and counting. Your site is just awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/YvonneVentresca Yvonne Ventresca

    17038. I will get some actual writing done!

  • http://twitter.com/YvonneVentresca Yvonne Ventresca

    17038. I will get some actual writing done!

  • http://thoughtsaboutnothing.com @kylereed

    I have been alive 9698 days. 
    Today, I ship something. And the next day I ship something. Instead of talking about ideas I start to do ideas

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/TPCZKWKBQW2BTKKXTXQ5P4N64I David

    I have been hanging out here for 19,275 days.
    I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up. Sadly, both my son’s have a better idea where they want to be than I ever did. My hope is that in the 365 days of 2013 – actually only 341 left – I will find a better way to spend the next 8000 or 9000 days – Lord willing.

  • lhoenigsberg

    I have been alive 22, 462 days!  The day is almost over, but what I did today to make it extraordinary is to pray this morning that God would give me wisdom to know how to speak to the heart of all of my clients I saw today (I’m a psychotherapist).  In one of my hour sessions, I had four women in a group who all need help with believing they can do anything they want, and that it’s never too late to start.  So I showed them a TED tv video with Amy Cuddy about her research on how our body language actually changes the hormone levels of testosterone and cortisol, and we practiced…we practiced standing like Wonder Woman.  And they all smiled.

  • http://naturalbornalien.wordpress.com/ Melody DuBois

    I’ve been alive 17, 415 days. Today? Well, today I will read some poetry (as I’ve been meaning to do more of), and stop for at least 5 minutes to just enjoy the beauty God has put in my day. Like right now… the sun is shining through the leaves outside the window, and slanting across the floor in such a beautiful pattern. How often does God cause that to happen and I never stop to notice?

  • http://www.lifebykelli.com/ Kelli Harper

    I have been alive for 11,723 days! 
    Wow, and how many of those days have I taken for granted and wasted? Sobering. How will I make today extraordinary? I will give myself away, live love, and chase hard after my dreams. Carpe Diem. 

  • DeniseM

    I guess that I’ve been on this planet 17,055 days.

  • Ethel

    4883 days. Still have a long long way to go. Gonna make the best of it.

  • Debbie Petras

    I’ve been alive 21,918 days.  It is eye opening to view it this way.  I want to make every day count and not waste any more time in fear.  I am writing my book and …completing it.  No fear of what others think.  It’s something I must share.

  • Monique

    I was born 17,321 days ago! Today I will stay happy, no matter what. AND I will eat dessert FIRST ;)

  • Abigail Alderman

    Today is my 8,619th day of life, so today I choose to have the courage to let my words speak with life and truth. Out of Truth comes the ability to live with authority!

  • Lori Lipsky

    Loved the interview, Jeff. Robert D.’s take on rejection is inspiring. His perspective on facing fear with a twist is sure to be a help to me and many others.

    I’ve lived 19,166 days. Today I’m hanging out in my office writing a little bit, but mostly cleaning my work space as I listen to audio books. Paper, paper, paper, but I’m dealing with it head on.

  • bradblackman

    Only a month late, but I just discovered I’ve been around for 12493 Days! Crazy. And how to make today extraordinary? I will take the time to tell my children and their mother how special they are to me.