I’m just playing it safe

Saturday night Joanne and I were strolling down Main Street in beautiful downtown Franklin, TN where we live.  In a window, on a chalkboard, someone had scribbled this quotation:

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. – Cecil Beaton

It seems everywhere I turn I’m hearing from people who are recognizing the risks of playing it safe and of doing what is ordinary – what is expected of others.

A recent survey showed that when people close to death are questioned about anything they would do differently, one common theme rises to the top: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” This is the most common regret of all.

Last Wednesday, in a live Moody Midday Connection radio interview, the producer played a clip from the George Clooney movie Up in the Air and asked me to comment.  In this clip Clooney asked the guy who was losing his job – “How much did they pay you to walk away from your dreams?”

This morning I watched the trailer from a new movie coming out in July called I’m Fine – in which one of the people being interviewed said, “I spent my whole life doing what others expected of me, and ignoring my dreams.”

When someone realizes that his life is almost over, it’s easy to look back and see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. That realization helps to explain much of the angst and frustration we are seeing in retirement centers and nursing homes. It’s critically important to honor your dreams along the way. When you are on your deathbed, the opinions of others fade alongside the recognition that you have not lived an authentic life. My work with those making midlife corrections in their careers is largely that of simply peeling back the layers of others’ expectations to reveal once again those clear and passionate childhood dreams. In those we discover work that is meaningful, purposeful, and profitable.

Life offers many choices. It is your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, seek godly counsel, but choose honestly and authentically.



1.  If you want to hear the Moody interview on following your dreams and finding work that is fulfilling, click here – Dan on Following Your Dreams

2.  I will be expanding on the Up in the Air clip in this week’s 48Days Podcast.

3.  Yes, I did kick in some money to help the I’m Fine crew finish this movie and encourage you to do likewise.

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  • Terry Hadaway

    I love the quote and the challenge to pursue our dreams. We are here for more than ordinary. In my blog today, I talked about how our vision is clouded by preconceived notions. Your post is a big encouragement! Thanks.

  • Love this and just added the Cecil Beaton quote to my journal.

      Thanks for backing the “I’m Fine, Thanks,” movie– great crew behind it! Some of the crew went barefooting with us after filming– and boy were they sore afterwards! 🙂

    • 48DaysDan

      Karen – holy moley I didn’t catch you as the skier in the trailer.  Just went back and watched it again.  How very cool!  Saw our buddy Chris Guillebeau in there.  Obviously, I love the concept of the movie.  Make it happen!

      •  Yeah, Dan, blink, and you miss me! We spent three hours on the water– there will be a little more barefooting in the film, I’m sure.  🙂

  • Adam Baker

    Dan, I’ve been a fan of your work for the last few years. I appreciate very much your support of our film – and your continued work to change lives!

    Thanks for all you do (and your help!)…

    -Adam Baker

    • 48DaysDan

      Adam – oh how cool.  I’ve had several people pointing me to your project this morning.  Looks like you’re getting good traction today – I’ve checked a couple of times and have seen the number growing – yippee!  After all the notes this morning I went back and watched the trailer and saw Karen Putz who was just here for a conference and our good buddy Chris Guillebeau.  We’ll keep pushing to get more people involved.

  • Excellent post Dan and I love the quote!

  • Inspiring post Dan. That was me up until a few years ago when I stumbled across a few books that changed my way of thinking and my life. Still switch back to the “play it safe” mode once in awhile but it’s nothing like it used to be.

  • Dan,

    Nice post. I really like that quote from Clooney, “How much did they pay you to walk away from your dreams?” Now that is looking at it from a different perspective. Over the past couple years I have really enjoyed watching movies and one thing that I keep noticing is how well writers, producers, directors, etc. can capture what most people don’t realize. And they can usually do so with one-liners such as what Clooney said in that quote.

    • 48DaysDan

      Brent – yeah I love to find those little morsels in the few movies I see.