Are You Living Your Life in a Box and Dismissing Possibilities?

Just got back from vacation this weekend (more on that later) and watched the movie Last Holiday with Queen Latifah. It is about a shy, reserved retail clerk who finds out she has 3 weeks to live. On hearing the news she breaks out of her shell and starts doing all kinds of wild and crazy things she always dreamed of doing but never thought she could (she was waiting for that elusive “Someday”). So, she travels to Europe, tries ski boarding, succeeds at base jumping, treats herself to fancy clothes, and realizes her dream of learning to cook beside a top chef. I found this movie runneth over with some very worthwhile life lessons and even one cool coaching tool hidden in it. I wasn’t expecting such an insightful vacation recovery movie viewing experience, but was certainly inspired and juiced up by it.

Lesson 1: Where is Your Book of Possibilities?

In the movie, Georgia (Latifah’s character) has a small book of possibilities in which she has collected all her dreams. She has pictures of hotels she wished to stay at, countries she wanted to visit, and even pictures of a wedding and married couple with her face and that of the guy she likes pasted onto it. She continually added things to the book and would look at it lamenting with a sigh “Someday”. Once she is diagnosed, she pours over the book crying about the things she’ll never get to do. Then, of course she heads out and starts doing them – having a last holiday before her time is up. After all, why not! she figures, this is the final curtain call.

What I find important about this is twofold.

First — do you have your own book of possibilities? Dreams and goals that you keep tucking away for one day in the future? The first step in getting what you want in life is getting clear and knowing what that something is. In Georgia’s case, she clearly knew what she wanted and had the pictures and book to prove it.

Second — She had a powerful, tangible, and visible way to get in touch with her dreams each day. She opened the book and could see it lay out before her. The second important step in getting what you want is being able to see it, touch it, feel it, and get in touch with it on a regular (at least daily) basis. The practice of acting “as if” and stepping into what it will be like when you get what you want strengthens your resolve and gets other, unseen powers in motion to help you manifest what you want in your life.

Of course, as the story goes, she has step one and two, but was lacking a crucial part of getting what she wanted. That is — ACTION. She looked at the book but didn’t BELIEVE she could have what she desired. Without the belief, she took no action to actually make it happen. You can visualize and dream all you want, but if you don’t actually take any action, you’re likely to find yourself in the same spot at the same time next year. Action is the grease that gets the wheels going on the car that will get you where you want to go.

Lesson 2: Boxes are Great for Shoes, But No Place for You to Live.

While away and living the high life, Georgia writes a note detailing her wishes after she passes. In it she says that she wants to be cremated; she doesn’t want to be buried in a box because she lived her whole life in one. That’s a pretty powerful statement. Think about it — why would you want to live your whole life in a box? I can think of a number of reasons women do — fear, lack of self-confidence, other people’s expectations, low self-esteem to name a few. Yet, who benefits when you live your life in a box? Certainly not you; and, not anyone else for that matter since the world at large and those close to you only experience a diminished version of your brilliance and full potential.

The phrase “think outside the box” has been so misused and overused in the business world that it makes me ill. (Nothing like taking a decent metaphor and corrupting it.) But, there is truth in the essence of the statement. What would YOU be doing if you could step outside the little box you have created for yourself in your life (and for some, the boxes are smaller than others)? Would you be traveling more? Spending more time with those you love? Playing in the outdoors more? Living in another part of the country?

Just ponder the possibilities and write a list or journal about what opportunities might wait for you on the other side of a confining box.


As a side note, the movie is not heavy or depressing. It is in fact quite a celebration of life peppered with the right dose of humor. I won’t give away the ending, but never fear you don’t need a box of Kleenex.


What do you think about the concept of a book of possibilities? Do you have one? Are you taking action to make these possibilities reality or simply lamenting that you “can’t”?

Do you find yourself living in a box in one or more areas of your life? Are you thriving in there or finding yourself constricted, frustrated, and unfulfilled?

I’d love to hear what you think….share some of your thoughts in the comments below.

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  1. I just loved this movie as well! A perfect "coaching" movie that promotes living your dreams and taking risks!

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