We should not “what if” things, they say. I have been thinking though, what if you looked at your life in the schematic of annual one-liners?! What would it look like? Would there be something significant to highlight from each year that made the daily grind worthwhile? Something unforgettable? Something life changing? No doubt when you look back on your life this way, not all the “unforgettable” will be things you chose. Some things you will find; others will find you; still others will knock you down and threaten to take you out. If you are reading this though, you have withstood the storms and lived to tell the tale.


2001 – The year I finished high school and moved to New York City.

2004 – The year I finished grad school.

2007 – The year I became a Special Agent.

2009 – The year I went on tours of duty (TDY) to Germany and Italy. The year I had gastric bypass surgery and proceeded to lose 155 pounds in the following 18 months.

2010 – The year I met my husband; the love of my life.

2011 – The year we got married. The year I went to the Middle East on TDY where I learned I was pregnant.

2012 – The year my son was born.

2013 – The year my daughter was born.

2014 – The year my husband died.

2018 – The year Tunnel to Towers found me and said they wanted to build me and my kids a mortgage-free home.

2019 – The year I ran the NYC Marathon on my husband’s birthday. The year I climbed the Freedom Tower; the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

2020 – The year I moved to Staten Island for Tunnel to Towers.

2021 – The year I donated an organ to a dear friend.

When you write your schematic, you want to look at the adult years. Why? School-age years are for most of us, pretty prescriptive. It is in our adult years that we have so much freedom. Unfortunately, after 18 years of following the status quo, many of us get all too comfortable letting our ever-flowing, pre-existing environment control our forward momentum, instead of asserting our power to choose. So look at your adult years. Have you made them count?

When writing your highlight reel, remember to keep it personal. This is not about what happened those years in the world around us. This is about your life. Speaking of keeping it personal, do not fall into the comparison trap. It does not matter how it measures up to anyone else’s highlight reel. We are all on our own path. Our journey is meant to be unique and therefore the value of it cannot be measured against that of others. The only yardstick to use is measuring it against your desire; your purpose; your hopes; your dreams; your calling; your will.

So when you look back over your years, do you like the story they tell? Oscar Wilde said, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Have you lived? If not, remember, this is not an autopsy report. This is a wakeup call. What if you knew you had only ten years left to live? If you pursued one dream a year for the next ten years, how rich a life that time would be! Tell me about your years. I will ask you again. Have you made them count? What is next on the agenda?

To making it count,

Nikola Rosa