Picture a graveyard. Under the big oak tree in the far corner, there’s a granite headstone. Look closer. See the name engraved? Yep, it’s yours. So you’re sitting here, looking at your own headstone. There’s your year of birth, and the year you—heaven forbid—pass. And between them, there’s a little, coy hyphen. Now, here’s the good news: that hyphen is what you get to play with. ON BEING BIG Let’s take a moment to think analytically about that hyphen. There are two things that anyone who aspires to be big must face. The first is knowing what you want to do. Or, in the words of poet Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” (We’ll get to the second in a moment.) Determining what you want out of life—your career, relationships and your free time—is a surprisingly hard process for many of us. It’s much easier to abide by the rules and plans of others than to look within ourselves and see clearly what we are meant to—and would really, really enjoy with the whole of our being—do. Here are 4 starting points for discovering your brand of being big: 1. What are your threads? Everything you’ve done and loved up to this point is a thread running through your life. Those threads are always with you, and you can choose to pick them up again at any time. Adored math as a kid, but your parents pushed you into sales? Maybe it’s time to take some classes and explore. 2. Who makes you jealous? Envy is actually a wonderful way to unearth some of our big, deep desires. Who have you been jealous of recently? Steve Jobs? Lindsey Vonn? Maybe it’s actually a clue to your being big. 3. What have you always wanted to do? Complete this sentence: “If money and time were no object, I would totally want to…” Work in Paris? Market my invention? You could start today with a language tape and learning about the patent process. 4. What are your forbidden fruits? Sometimes we tell ourselves that certain things are off limits, when really, it’s just a mirage created by a limiting belief. What seems off-limits to you but might be great fun if it weren’t “forbidden”? Acting in a play? Buying a telescope? Writing a book? THE SECOND THING Once you are firmly pointed in the direction of your own bigness, you will undoubtedly meet the second thing about being big. As any hero will tell you, once you start heading in the direction of being big…once you take action toward your goals…the second thing undoubtedly shows up. And that thing is fear. Here’s the secret about being big: you still get the socks scared off you on a regular basis. (Perhaps even more often!) But it no longer stops you. Spooks you, absolutely. Makes your knees go weak, without a doubt. But when you’re living big, fear ceases to be a reason to quit. Because you’ve got big things you want to do with that little hyphen of yours.