Life Design and Strategy - Chapter 1 - Memorable Moments
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Gratitude, it’s become a buzzword. Being grateful for what we have is officially now a practice. It seems like we’ve over complicated so much in our lives we now need to consciously practice things like breathing, sleep, eating well and being grateful.
I wish there was another way, but reflecting on the things that are memorable is the best first step we can take.
This exercise is about the past and present, we will take stock of where we are currently at, and the moments that light us up.
A few reminders before we start.
Life is short - it’s worth spending time being mindful of how you live and designing your life so that it is best aligned with who you are.
Life is a series of moments and memories, we are the main character in the video game called our ‘life’. Design your characters, mission and quest, the places you’ll go, the people you’ll meet, the skills you’ll acquire and the levels you’ll progress through.
It starts with knowing the moments that inspire, light you up and excite you. For me it’s a hug and smile from my kids, hitting a nice golf shot, listening to an audiobook and going for a walk, travelling the world, creating something with my team and sharing what I learn.
The PURPOSE of this exercise is about appreciating and reflecting on all that is amazing in your life.
So how do we do this you might ask?
Before we start, I want you to go really deep here and list as many things as you can in the greatest amount of detail possible.
The First step. is get out your phone and have a look at your camera roll. Look back over the past 12 months and note down all of the memories you’ve taken a photo of that make you smile, that bring you joy, or bring back great memories. Start with your phone and if you have less than 10 items - Look through your social media pages, journal, calendar, your memories, call a friend, ask your family or look through your security camera footage.
Examples might include - travel, time with loved ones (family, friend's), places, people, activities, work achievements, experiences with colleagues and teammates, tasks you enjoy, events, things you’ve bought, entertainment, books, sports, hobbies, work, things you did for others, guilty pleasures, fitness, meditation, reading, waking up early, hiking, art music, something you learnt, a class, financial outcome.
I want your list to have somewhere at least 20 moments. Write more if you can.
Keep thinking about events, experiences, achievements that you would count as a ‘memorable moment’ over the past 12 months.
Keep going, think of things that you were proud of and changes you’ve made.
Think about the people who you spend most of your time with and what you love doing with them. List it all!
Remember, This is both a gratitude exercise and it helps with identifying the moments that mean the most to you and that you might want to experience again.
Keep going, keep writing moments down.
Don’t get lazy, I hope you’ve got a minimum of 20 and are now closer to 50 moments.
Now - I want you to look at the things that really made you smile. Highlight these ones.
Read your list, feel the moments, remember them. Smile... Feel that feeling of appreciation and gratitude for the life you’re living.
At the very least, take comfort in knowing the odds of being a human being and alive to be doing this exercise. Be grateful that you’re not a neglected Bonsai plant, a frog or a windshield wiper.
If you struggled for inspiration or ideas - I’ve added some popular ones for you. Don’t worry if you couldn’t think of many. As you read on, I’ll show you how to create more memorable moments in your life.
I want you to start searching for more of these moments. Because for most of us, when we’re old, these are the moments we’ll reflect on. The hours we worked, the problems that we worried about, the things we accumulated. Will most likely fade away in their level of significance.
The next step is identifying the themes that brought you joy which are in brackets above. For 99% of people it’s possible to group our memorable moments into 5 categories.
Freedom - (time, money, things, work, business, house)
Impact - (helping others)
Connection - (relationships)
Experiences - (travel, going to the movies, watching a sports event, playing golf)
Growth - learning, creativity, education, skill development.
If the above doesn’t work for you just write the themes that stand out in your list ? For example family, work, finance, travel, hobbies, things, events ect).
The categories don’t matter, it’s more to see if there are any patterns in what ‘lights you up’.
The overall goal of this exercise is finding out what currently makes you happy and brings you enjoyment.
But most importantly it’s to look back at your list and to appreciate the things in your life that are already amazing. I’m hoping with the above you’ve been able to paint a picture that makes you feel like “even if I don’t do anything more with my life, it’s still pretty amazing” or “Damn, this is going as planned, things need to change”.
Life is like a video game. You hold the controller, you get to choose what adventures your character goes on, you get to be the underdog and the hero of this story.
It’s very common, especially for high achievers to put too much pressure on themselves. Perspective is important, because the reality is, things in your life that bring you dissatisfaction is likely a dream for someone else.
Examples of Memorable Moments
My birthday party with friend's and family (Connection)
Going to the football with my sister and spending the night in the city (Connection and Memorable Moment)
Trip to New York - eating pizza, walking around the city (Memorable Moment)
Making an imperfect wedding cake with love for my brother’s wedding. (Connection and Impact)
Grandkids kinder graduation (Connection)
Catching up for dinner with my mentor and discussing a project (Connection and Growth)
Mapping out a new business idea (Freedom and Growth)
Walking to my local cafe (Growth and Memorable Moment)
Learning how to play chess (Growth)
Being able to help my cousin by sending him some money. (Connection and Impact)
Buying a new family car (Freedom)
Winning a business award (Freedom)
From doing this exercise at this point, a few of my clients will come up with various pieces of insight like
“I feel like an imposter at work, but I really have worked hard for my position”
“I never realised how much joy something as simple as going to the football brings me”
“I need to make a few big decisions, it’s time to move back home”
“I’m going to spend more time with my family”
“I need to book in a trip overseas next week”
“I love making decisions, I’m really good at it, I need to make more that improve my life”
“I get anxious because I feel like I need to be more productive and I’m falling behind, but when I look at this list, I’ve done a fair bit”
“I love helping other people”
“I’m happiest when I’m being generous and sharing my wealth with my loved ones”
“I love sneaking out and watching a movie by myself and not telling anyone”
There is a good chance that something that used to bring you lots of joy has changed, it might be your work where the culture has changed to new owners, it might be the relationship with your partner or it might be a sport you used to play that you can’t play anymore due to injuries. The key here is doing our best to find out what it was about those experiences we miss the most and how we can substitute them and the feeling they gave us.
For example it might mean that you need to explore applying for a new job that better aligns with your values, or you need to spice up your relationship by booking in a weekly date night or maybe you need to start playing tennis because you can no longer play football.
In my case, after doing this exercise in 2013, it inspired me to start my business (Future Golf), around my greatest passion which was golf. I wanted to do something purely for the love of doing it opposed to the financial outcome. Funnily enough, as time went on, Future Golf also became a core part of my livelihood. At the time of writing, I am still the CEO and Founder of Future Golf which has now become one of the largest communities of younger golfers in the world. It’s allowed me to do what I love, with people that I love. It rarely feels like work, because the alignment is so strong as is the clarity of why we’re doing what we’re doing.
It took me a while to figure out the importance of reflecting on my memorable moments, but when I did it was a game changer for my overall happiness. Sometimes when I’m feeling a bit flat, I’ll look at my list and it will bring a smile to my face.
I mentioned earlier that my previous life was all about external validation and the ruthless pursuit of achieving outcomes, whereas with Future Golf, I’ve learnt that it is more about creating something that matters, the actions we are taking, the moments, the journey and what we learn.
Enough about me, the other purpose of this exercise is to provide context in regards to the bigger picture which we will get to shortly. Our goal here is finding the ingredients that make you happy and what we’ ll eventually work on is increasing the frequency of these moments in your life. Rather than having a 9/10 experience every two months. We want you to have 9/10 experiences a lot more often. Most importantly we want you to start recognising and reflecting on these moments. So you feel even more gratitude and enjoyment.
We often think things like, I need to earn $1,000,000 or 6-figure salary to be happy, I need to buy my beach house to be happy, I need to start a business to be happy. But a lot of the time amplifying the things in our list above and making a few key changes is all we need to dramatically change our level of happiness. We often think that we need these things to be happy, because we are lazy with mapping out our life. Our goals are often the goals of others. Trust me I know a lot of people who have achieved this outcomes and are still unhappy. The happiness that comes from achieving outcomes is often fleeting.
The other point that’s important here is remembering, this is about your happiness. It’s not about impressing other people, satisfying the needs of your loved ones. I’m giving you the licence to be completely selfish for the moment, to truly explore the things that make you happy, the guilty pleasures and all.
Look, I love my family. But I also love traveling alone. At first I thought, I shouldn't have the desire for solo adventures, it's wrong, what will my wife think and will my kids hate me? It's not wrong. We love the things we love and it's ok! When you are the truest version of yourself, after the initial feeling of fear, the people who love you most will respect you and will often be inspired by seeing you having the courage of being you. It’s important to make compromises, but don’t lose who you are.
Add to your list of memorable moments with complete freedom.
You can make adjustments later. If there is something that truly brings you joy and aligns with who you are. Who gives a crap if society doesn’t accept it. It’s none of their business. You be you! The only note here is don’t amplify things that you can’t control, that will get you in trouble with the law or have a negative impact on your life.
So many people do what society wants them to do and after doing this for decades, guess what? They lose track of who they are. Going back to the video game analogy, they’ve given the controller away to society. If this is you, it's time to take the controller back and play the game you want to play. Not the game that you should play. We only get to play this game once my friends. Once.
Appendix - My Memorable Moments List Categorised from 2020
Marcel and Romeo's birthday
Going to the playcentre with friend's and family
Marcel playing Soccer
A morning cuddle in bed with the kids
Going to trampoline park
Lunch with my wife Chantelle
Chantelle going on trip to South Africa - dealing with that situation due to COVID
Walk with my family
Birthday dinner with friends
10th Anniversary with Chantelle - Weekend away to cottage
Romeo kinder graduation
Mum visiting - going to the rain room exhibition.
Christmas with the family
Phillip Island family holiday - walk on the beach, cafe, time with family, wildlife sanctuary.
Trip to Bali with our friends Danni and Mike - time at the beach, resort, sunsets, cultural activities, round of golf
Trip to the US and Canada with Vinh - spending time hanging out and laughing, Los Angeles, Toronto, on the road at Vinh's Keynote Speeches, Niagra Falls, NYC, Pizza, Shows, Philharmonic, Comedy shows, library, museums.
Golf Trip to Barnbougle Dunes - golf with friend’s and team.
Australian Open tennis
Boxing Day Test Cricket
Weekend away - hot springs and golf
Learning Chess and achieving a 1500 Puzzle rating
Playing golf at my local golf club.
30 day golf challenge - learning with my coach Jack
COVID - 3 month Lockdown and navigating it.
Puzzles with family
Listening to music
Going for walks
Vanilla Latte’s - at cafes and journalling
Lego with the kids
Lego by myself
Mediating - practicing my breathing and presence
Aromatherapy in my study - the unique smells
Olinda botanical gardens - walking
Reading books and listening to Audible
Going to the movies
Freedom - FG
Navigating the business through COVID.
Solidifying a few key partnerships.
Appreciation for being able to support my family.
Appointing new team members this year.
Appointing two business advisors.
Helping people one-on-one with Life Design and Life Strategy.
Advising and consulting for a few people I care about.
Doing a few development sessions at schools.
Future Golf Podcast - Interviewing Marc Leishman, Karrie Webb, Anna Meares and others.
Vinh and Ali Show - Launching our new Podcast and studio setup.
Finalist for Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Working on this book
Launching an online passion business course.
Setting up podcast studio
New set of TaylorMade Golf Clubs
Pair of Jordans, Apple watch and airpods
Memorable Moments - Reflection and notes
Keep adding to the list, it’s not too late.
At this point the common feedback is
“I really thought my life was a lot worse off than what it is, but now I can see that I aspects of my life are pretty amazing, I’ve done some amazing things and have some great people in my life”
“When I started this exercise I felt like I was so boring and insular, I thought you would be thinking - get a life girlfriend, but now that I’ve done this exercise there are so many special things that I already do or have and I want to more of them, there’s no reason to feel like it’s not enough, because compared to a lot of people they would love to have half of what I have and the feelings I get to experience. I don’t need to worry about what other people think”
As Mark Twain once said "You'll worry less about what people think about you, when you realise how seldom they do." don't worry about what other people think, I can guarantee you they are more worried about their own lives and what you do with yours is nothing more than a fleeting thought. Get out of your own head as much as you can.
Although so much in our lives is external, we actually have a lot of control of our lives, a big part of this is driven from inside of us and perspective we have.
Add any additional thoughts that arise from your reflections. If you’re anything like me when I do this exercise. Your mind will want to jump towards making changes, taking actions, wanting to learn skills. I’ll have thoughts about things that I feel negative about, my fears ect. These are fine and it’s important to note them down so we can revisit them later.
Note - While you’re doing this exercise feel free to note any other thoughts you have. It’s normal and you never know where you’ll find the gold. I recommend you have a piece of paper or a google doc (or the like) where you jot down the thoughts you have that aren't related to this specific exercise.
I would also like to add that the things you’ve listed above will likely involve other people, but the happiness you feel is driven from within. The things you listed above didn’t just happen to you, you made them happen either on a conscious or subconscious level. You are the one in control of how you feel about an experience. The moment was memorable because you decided it was.
Earlier I mentioned that the goal of this exercise was to improve your clarity. If you were able to list over ten memorable moments and why they were memorable, congratulations you have more clarity than 95% of the population. This is the first step on the path to self awareness.
The happiness skill learnt here is understanding some of what you love and why, which often results in greater clarity.