Mom was taking my seven-year-old sister, Kelly, to the dentist. I was almost three years old, and I had a cold, so she dropped me off with her mother, telling her, “I’m leaving my boy with you.”
Prophetic words. Mom and Kelly never came home.
While driving home in a Northern Michigan April snow shower, a car tried to pass them. As the driver began to pass, he saw an oncoming vehicle, so he slowed down to get back behind Mom. But he was drunk, and he cut back too soon, clipping their car, sending them head-on into the oncoming vehicle. Mom died instantly. Ironically, she was driving the family station wagon, which doubled as a hearse and ambulance since my father was a funeral director in our town of 421 people. Kelly lived for another two hours and died in the hospital.
I’m sure that when Mom dropped me off that morning she didn’t think that this would be her last day. She was only 33.
When someone dies unexpectedly or gets seriously ill, we are jolted awake, and people start saying things like, “Life is short. You gotta live every day.” We vow to not take anything for granted. Clichés abound, like, “Live each day as if it were your last, because one day, you’ll be right.”
But then the demands of life pull us back to reality. Daily living involves work and grocery shopping and errands and cooking and cleaning, and everything required to live.
A significant loss or illness gives us perspective. We want to make the most of this precious gift of life, yet the practical demands make it challenging to savor it as much as we’d like. To live each day as if it were your last, you’d have to quit your job, not worry about meals, forget the errands, and convince your loved ones to blow off work and school so you could be together.
We want the experience of being gloriously alive, savoring life, and love, but we also have to be practical.
What if you could have more magic in your daily life—more joy, fulfillment, and connection—AND still be practical? It’s possible through something I call Practical Magic. Practical Magic is a simple three-part approach to living a more fulfilling life that’s based on the three primary acts of magic—Appear, Disappear, and Restore.
How do I know about these three acts of magic? Well, I’ve been a magician for over 50 years. The greatest blessing of being dropped off at my grandmother’s house on that wintery April day was that I never left. My mother’s parents raised me, and they were the best parents a boy could ask for.
When I was seven years old, they gave me a magic set for Christmas and Grandpa helped me learn some of the tricks. I caught the magic bug and became very serious about it. I rehearsed at the dinner table, and Grandpa wrote scripts with really corny, and sometimes inappropriate jokes, and he became my agent and chauffeur.
I developed the Practical Magic approach by combining my knowledge of magic with ten years’ experience as a Fortune 50 manager and over 27 years as a leadership consultant and coach. I’ve worked with over 120 organizations to help leaders build cultures where people can thrive. And, I’ve researched and explored the deeper meaning of magic since I was 18 years old. Practical Magic brings these two worlds together to make it possible for people to be fulfilled personally and professionally.
How Practical Magic Works
By defining what you want to appear in your life, what needs to disappear, and what needs to be restored, you can make the most of every day. This approach helps you decide on what you value most, so you focus on it as much as possible (Appear). It identifies what’s getting in the way that you need to get rid of (Disappear). And helps you see what may be broken and holding you back (Restore).
Here are the three acts of the Practical Magic approach, with questions to help you clarify how to best spend your time. Use these questions to build a vision of the kind of life you want to live. Take some time to reflect on them and consider what you can do to make the most of every day.
The Appearing Act
The Appearing Act is about your purpose—the higher meaning of your life. It’s about what you will do with this gift of life you’ve been given. What difference are you going to make in your one precious life?
- How can you combine your unique strengths, passions, and experiences to make the world a better place?
- What would appear in the world if you were living the most meaningful life possible?
- What unique contributions would you make to feel good about your life?
The Disappearing Act
Time is your most valuable resource because you can’t get it back. Once it’s spent, it’s gone. When you know what you want to appear in your life, you can be discerning about where you spend your time. Anything that doesn’t contribute to what you want to make appear needs to disappear.
- What activities are not aligned with what you want to appear? Can you stop doing them? This makes more time available for what you want to appear.
- How can you say no to things that would distract you from what you’re trying to make appear?
- What do you need to stop tolerating?
- What negative thoughts and stories need to disappear?
The Restoration Act
At its core, Restoration is about revitalization, hope, and healing.
It’s not fun when you feel stuck, unmotivated, cynical, or adrift, yet we all experience those times in our lives. While we’re usually aware of the discomfort, we don’t always realize that we have the power to change our situation. This is when you need to remember that you can revitalize your life. You hold the magic that is the Restoration Act.
- What relationships may need some healing?
- Do you need to revitalize your mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical health?
- Do you need to restore integrity with the values that are important to you?
- In what areas of your life do you need to feel more hopeful?
Using Practical Magic for Daily Planning
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have clarity about what you want to appear, what needs to disappear, and what needs to be restored. This clarity is the real magic that will help you make the most of your life and live each day as if it were your last.