20,000 Days and Counting: An Interview and Giveaway with Robert D. Smith

20,000 days

This is an interview with Robert D. Smith. Robert is the author of 20,000 Days and Counting and a consultant to numerous best-selling authors, speakers, and entertainers. For over 30 years, he has managed the career of New York Times best-selling author and in-demand speaker Andy Andrews. He recently took the time to answer some questions about his debut book and the concept of getting the most you possibly can out of any 24-hour period. The book was released today, and you can learn more about it HERE.

Early on in 20,000 Days and Counting, you introduce the concept of measuring our lives by days instead of years. Can you explain how and why you started doing this?

I started several years ago when I put my birth date into a countdown clock widget on my computer just to see what would happen. It worked the way I thought it might—it showed how many days had passed since the day I was born. And I was astounded. The number was just under 20,000.

Seeing the sheer magnitude of the amount of days you have spent on this planet is truly powerful. It can be a game-changing experience for your perspective on the ways you spend your time.

As people, we almost always overestimate what we can do in the next year, but dramatically underestimate what we can in the next 24 hours. When you become aware of each day, it’s amazing what you can achieve. If this has gotten curious as to how many days you have been alive, I set up a simple calculator here that will show you.

So if we’re in the habit of underestimating what we can do in the next 24 hours, how do we start taking better advantage of the time available to us each and every day?

Something most of us struggle with is waiting for motivation to hit us. We’re waiting to start the next big project until an epiphany suddenly appears.

The reality, though, is that motivation is a myth. Everyone always says they need a little motivation to be more productive when it’s actually the opposite that’s true—increase your productivity, then the motivation will follow.

So how can we start working without any motivation?

Ah, see starting is the hard part. My secret for getting started is focusing on the results. I always think back to a high school teacher of mine who would always say that simply starting a research paper meant you were half finished. You can be halfway to the finish line…just by starting! I love that concept!

I always feel more excited, more pumped up, more motivated after the work has begun. Once you get past that initial nervousness and hesitation of actually starting, you can really get going.

There was a major figure in psychology, William James, who had this same sort of idea as well. He believed that we don’t sing because we’re happy; we’re happy because we sing.

What made you want to base your book, 20,000 Days and Counting, around this concept of counting your days and making the most of each one?

The whole thing started like I mentioned earlier, when I found the countdown widget that told me how many days I had been alive. I wrote an e-mail about the concept of counting my days to over 40 of my closest friends. To my astonishment, every single one of them wrote a lengthy reply full of amazing insights.

About two years later, I began writing out some of these concepts in more detail and was encouraged by some friends to publish a book. Despite my best efforts to say no (I’ve been a behind-the-scenes guy my whole life), I eventually caved.

You talk a lot about living each day as if it’s your last in the book. How do we overcome what has kind of become a cliché and actually apply that to our lives?

Living each day as if it’s your last is a concept that is thought of in the wrong way 99% of the time. Most of us here that phrase and start thinking about all the “bucket list” things we would try to cram into one day. But it’s not about the specific actions you would take; it’s about having a specific mindset that creates a sense of urgency and importance in you every hour, every day.

We have a tremendous ability as human beings to only get serious about life once we know it’s about to end. What “living each day as if it’s your last” is really about is creating that sort of intense urgency well before you near the end of your life.

To create that, you need three things—a sense of your purpose, a sense of awareness that your life will be short, and a sense of gratefulness for the life you have been given. And I aimed to give people those three things with 20,000 Days and Counting.

Thanks for sharing Robert!

To help launch the new book, I’m giving away 4 autographed copies of 20,000 Days and Counting.

Want a copy? All you have to do is:

1. Share this post on Twitter or Facebook
2. Comment on this post. Any comment will suffice, but you might share one thing you have an “urgent sense” about in your life right now. It can be anything. A change. A dream. A relationship. Anything.
3. Make sure I have a valid email address.

I’ll give it a few days, see how the comments are going, and choose four (4) random winners.

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Join the discussion 27 Comments

  • joy stoiber says:

    looking forward to reading. I am in advocare and this is a huge read for us. I plan on buying for my downline and read it along with them.

  • Jodee says:

    I am 16,711 days old today and my sense of urgency is running. I signed up for my 6th half marathon and know I should be training. Today I thought, "I'm tired. I don't want to run. Then I wrote my training schedule out! Time is always shorter than I think it is!"

    When my oldest daughter was in Middle School I remember having a sense of urgency about CHRISTmas when I figured out I only had 5 left until she graduated. That thought made me realize I needed to make the most of everyone of them.

  • Tim Gardner says:

    A a blogger who has spent some time contemplating this same idea as I apprached 20,000 days, I am looking forward to reading this book.

  • politepolarbear says:

    Just tomorrow I am doing my first 20000 days.

  • LLM says:

    Urgent to figure out what I am supposed to do once I graduate in the spring! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Darryl McPhate says:

    I'm always looking for information to make me stronger, focused and help me with clarity in my life journey. It is no more critical now as I am trying to figure out what to do " when I grow up" at 48 as my company look to eliminate my position. Thanks for your consideration.

  • Ashley says:

    I feel a sense of urgency to move to a new city. I feel like God is calling me to live a big life and I feel stifled where I'm at now. Realizing that has lit the fire under me to move, to the point that I have no patience for my current situation.

  • @ed_sims says:

    Change before you have to….not because you have to!! Be urgent about everything.

  • @imrodmartin says:

    on January 25, 2013 – I will have been alive for 19,000 days. I'm preaching in church next week – and that's my intro to Psalm 15 – God's "12 step program". Now – if I can make the next 19,000 (or each day starting with today) live up to that – it will be a life well lived. I read the book after my quiet time yesterday (the Kindle version – would love the hard copy … hint hint lol)… refreshing, provocative, life-stopping – ie – you'd better stop and read it. Thanks for sharing the interview Ron!

  • Michael Bunker says:

    Wow, what a provocative thought. According to the calculator I have been alive 12,162 days, but how many have I "Lived". My urgent hearts desire is to seriously get into mission works. I have a list of things that seem to make that little more than a dream, but still, if the opportunity were to arise….

  • Chris Burton says:

    The interview reminded me of Moses' request in Psalm 90:12, "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." I'm approaching my 40th year and of late have been thinking hard about where I've been and where I want to go with whatever time God has left for me here. Like many of the others above, I have young children and I want my life to count both for them and for the Lord.

  • carikaufm says:

    I totally stumbled onto the launch party for this book on spreecast and had no idea what it was. Then trolling twitter, found your post…hmmm…I wonder what God is trying to tell me…

  • Joy says:

    Because yesterday is gone and tomorrow is not guaranteed, I am filled with urgency over making the most of today. Echoing Moses's prayer: "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." Ps. 90:12

  • Krishna De says:

    This is a very timely book! And thank you for the interview with the author.

    I don't know if it was the milestone of a significant birthday last Summer or spending several weeks seriously ill in hospital that has meant each day I look at my three young daughters and wonder even more than I did previously if I am spending enough time with them (I also run my own business) and if that time is being spent wisely.

    Today is also the anniversary of my fathers passing – he passed away when he was only 40 leaving a wife and two children aged 7 (me) and 4. I know he left a very positive legacy as we were constantly reminded of it by people in our community when I was growing up.

    This article and the book is a great reminder for me to revisit my actions each and every day to ensure that I live my life one that he would be proud of and that prepares my children to live their lives fully making a contribution to our society.

  • My “urgent sense” dream — breakthrough in my career.

  • Tim says:

    I have a daughter who is about 6,350 days old, and she and our family are preparing to transition to the next stage in life (college). When I stop and am still, I can see each grain of sand as it falls through the hour glass. I don't want to waste another day.

  • Dusty Marie says:

    My husband and I recently took a huge leap of faith and moved to a brand new city. No jobs, no connections – we just went. We felt that our lives up to this point had seemed mediocre at best, and we longed for so much more. Our sense of urgency came from knowing that if our lives were to end at that moment we would have so many regrets of not following our dreams.
    Now, we feel an urgency to get started on living out those dreams but not really knowing where to begin. We desire that no other day would pass without knowing we have lived it to the fullest.

  • Wumi says:

    My urgency is to become debt free.

  • Steve Goble says:

    My urgency is making sure that my 2 year old daughter knows her father, sees me love her mother (and my wife) everyday, despite the craziness of life and work.

  • Jim Drake says:

    Love to learn about new ways to motivate myself and others to live each day the Lord gives me to the fullest.

  • Like @cycleguy, I'm 60. Last Spring, after 36 years in Fort Worth, I packed up my family and moved to Colorado Springs for a new job and, my thinking went, a whole new life.

    I've asked God to give me that mountain.

  • Bob English says:

    21,000 + days and counting. I am seeking that transition from success to significance. I think the hardest part is creating that "intense urgency." At this stage getting intense about anything is hard but I like the idea.

  • @wls1961 says:

    To create that, you need three things—a sense of your purpose, a sense of awareness that your life will be short, and a sense of gratefulness for the life you have been given. Powerful stuff. I am reminded that I need to be more intense about my purpose, realize that my lifespan is a vapor and to be content wherever I am. Would love to read this book. I'm going to go look for the widget to start my own counter!

  • Eric Dingler says:

    As strange as it sounds….my current "urgency" is the wedding of my two year old daughter. That's right…my two year old. No, she is getting married soon….I'm hoping in maybe 20 to 50 years.

    But, just yesterday I was moved to tears when I begin to think about the limited time I have to model a healthy "husband-image" for my daughter to seek out for her groom. I also am the most influential image she, and my two month old son, will have of their heavenly "father".

    While I'm busy chasing my dreams, their watching me all the time. They are learning more than I am intentionally teaching them, so I have to be careful with every 24 hour period I have.

    I actually wrote a post last night about my strange morning yesterday when I found tears in my eye thinking about my daughter's future….all in a good way. It posted this morning on my blog.
    Twitter: ericdingler

  • TJ Francis says:

    Timely post. I am 12,957 days old and have waisted a lot of them. Looking forward to making the most of each additional day.
    TJ Francis

  • cycleguy says:

    At 60 I occasionally come face to face (every time I look in the mirror) with the fact I am getting older. With the remaining days I have I wan to make a difference. I have an "urgency" about getting out of debt (I once was except for my house but life happens, i.e. vehicles break down or blow up). I also have an urgency to do more prep for retirement. My other urgency is to shepherd my grandson in the way of Jesus. one last one (sorry so long) is to lead the church in the way of grace.

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