When Surviving is Not Enough

Last Updated Jun 2, 2011 1:21 PM EDT

Six years ago, Mark and Sarah were on a cruise ship touring the South Pacific when a violent tropical storm damaged the ship's hull. Several passengers were knocked overboard and into the dark churning waters nearly 50 feet below. Mark and Sarah were two of the passengers who plunged into the cold waters that night. They frantically grabbed pieces of debris and hung on tight -- doing whatever they could to keep their head above water.

The next morning, Mark washed up on a small and uninhabited island. Sarah washed up on a neighboring island, also uninhabited, about two miles from Mark.

After the initial shock of the situation wore off, fear and anxiety overcame both of them. They knew survival would not be easy. They knew that they'd have to work hard to build shelter, locate fresh water, pick fruit and fish for food. The first few days were scary and difficult, but they both managed to build makeshift shelters to protect them from the rain and sun. They found freshwater streams deeper into the islands and plenty of fruits and nuts. As the days turned into weeks, they even got good at trapping crab and spearing fish.

Sarah struggled to survive each day too, but she wanted to do more than just survive. Each afternoon, Sarah spent a couple of additional hours gathering and storing wood. She tested nearly every type of vegetation on the island to see which produced the darkest and thickest smoke. She collected rocks of all sizes and used them to spell "H E L P" in gigantic letters on the beach in four areas around the island. She also started building a raft out of bamboo and vines -- a little bit each day.

After several non-eventful weeks, help arrived. Sarah was picking fruit near the beach and Mark was trapping crabs when they both -- almost at the same time -- saw a small seaplane in the distance.

Sarah jumped into action. She ran to the small fire and used it to light the large pile of wood. She dumped the vegetation on it and used her Tiki torch to light the other stacks of wood on fire. She then ran back to add more wood and vegetation to the fire. Huge plumes of smoke rose into the air and filled the sky above her island.

Meanwhile, Mark was frantic. He ran around trying to figure out what to do. He sprinted into the jungle and grabbed any kind of vegetation he could find to throw on the fire. Unfortunately, all the vegetation he could locate quickly suffocated the fire time and time again.

The plane turned and started heading toward the islands. As it got closer, Mark realized it was flying not toward him, but was headed several miles "off course." The water plane circled Sarah's island and touched down a hundred yards offshore. Minutes later, Sarah was airborne, leaving Mark running up and down the beach waving his arms in the air in desperation.

They both did what was necessary to make it each day, but Sarah had a bigger plan -- she wanted a better life.

How many of us are desperate to be rescued but do nothing to make it happen? If you feel like you are stranded on an island of monotony, unpaid bills, and forgotten dreams or if you find yourself daydreaming of a richer life but have no idea how to achieve it, there is only one solution. Stop daydreaming, hoping, wishing, and wanting and start doing. Carve out as much free time you can throughout the week -- whether it's 20 minutes or two hours -- and start designing and achieving a better future one day at a time.

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    Robert Pagliarini is obsessed with inspiring others to create and empowering them to live life to the fullest by radically changing the way they invest their time and energy. He is the founder of Richer Life, a community of passionate people who want to learn and achieve more in life and at work. He is a Certified Financial Planner and the president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, a boutique wealth management firm serving sudden wealth recipients and affluent individuals. He has appeared as a financial expert on 20/20, Good Morning America, Dr. Phil, Dr. Drew's Lifechangers and many others.