How to Create the “Moments” that Change Your Life

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped.” — Tony Robbins

In the book, THE POWER OF MOMENTS, Chip and Dan Heath explain that moments matter.

When recalling memories, we generally focus on 3 key components of moments:

  • peaks (highs)
  • pits (lows)
  • transitions (shifts)

It’s not surprising that these are the memories that stick out the most. What is surprising, according to Chip and Dan Heath, is that very few people INVEST in such moments.

Most people reactively let the most powerful experiences happen. Few people continuously create those experiences.

The average person experiences almost all of their “peak” experiences in their teens and 20’s. These experiences taper-off in most people’s 30’s and are basically non-existent as a person gets older and older.

According to Dr. Abraham Maslow, peak experiences are necessary to becoming self-actualized — which is where you’ve fully developed as a person and can pursue your highest potential.

Most people plateau at a certain stage of their development. They stop dealing with the highs, lows, and transitions of growth. Instead, they seek the safety of stability.

This safety shields them from the risks, pain, and seeking that is required for growth.

Growth isn’t supposed to feel good in the moment.

Confidence and dopamine are not the same thing.

In today’s fast-paced and every-changing environment, the norm for most people is to seek short-term dopamine highs, followed by long-term internal conflict and regret.

The reverse of this pattern is to seek confidence, which is the product of consistent and congruent decisions. The common notion that confidence leads to success is flat wrong. It’s successful behavior that creates confidence. You cannot have confidence without positive behaviors.

Creating More Life-Shifting “Memories”

If you took a minute to examine your recent past, when is the last “peak” experience you can recall?

When is the last powerful “moment” that shifted how you saw the world?

When was the last time you attempted something you’ve never done before?

When was the last time you put everything on the line for your convictions?

When was the last time you made a real decision? Said Tony Robbins, “A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”

Life-changing moments are inherently emotional.

If you’re not willing to deal with powerful (and sometimes difficult) emotions, then you’ve frozen yourself in time.

You’ve settled for what you currently have.

You’ve shifted from seeking and approaching life to shielding and avoiding life.

When you freeze yourself in time, you stop putting yourself in demanding situations that require you to rise up to a new level.

You stop taking on roles you’ve never played before — and you settle for the environment and relational expectations that make up your current reality.

You stop being willing to fail.

You stop trying new things.

You stop dreaming.

You stop exercising faith.

So how do you engineer more of these “moments” into your life?

  • You need to reconnect with what you really want in life.
  • What you want from life should align with your values and beliefs about what is meaningful and important.
  • If you’ve decided that what you want is what you really want, because you find it to be meaningful and important, then you need to convince yourself that you can have what you want. To quote Charles Haanel, considered to be the father of modern self-improvement: “Remember that no matter what the difficulty is, no matter where it is, no matter who is affected, you have no patient but yourself; you have nothing to do but convince yourself of the truth which you desire to see manifest.”
  • In order to convince yourself that what you want is ALREADY DONE, you need make a committed decision. This can’t be something that merely exists in your head. It has to be more than a vocal “public commitment,” although that certainly helps. You need to INVEST in “moments” that will alter the trajectory of your life. Those moments must either be a peak, pit, or transition. From my experience, real decisions involve all three — because growth always involves failure, transition, and hopefully success.

From 2010 to 2014, I wanted to be a writer. But I never wrote.

Two very important things happened that finally got me to commit to the dream I had lying dormant within me.

  • I became a foster parent of three incredible kids. That external pressure created internal resolve to live my life to a higher level. The opposite of conventional wisdom is true: It’s not great power that creates responsibility. It’s great responsibility that creates power. When my situation demanded me to be more, I became more. To quote historian Will Durant, “I think the ability of the average man could be doubled if it were demanded, if the situation demanded.”
  • I started INVESTING in my dream of becoming a writer. In 2015, as a graduate student, I was making $12,000 per year. The first major investment in my writing career was eating the $800 cost of buying the domain name: When I talked with my wife about buying that domain name, she really challenged me. “Is this just a phase? $800 is a lot of money,” she argued. I told her it wasn’t a phase. So she let me buy the domain name.

That investment created a far deeper sense of commitment within me. Had I not made that investment, my commitment would have shrunk, not increased.

I made two other important investments, which have now become “peak memories.” They are moments that stick deeply in my memory. They altered the trajectory of my life. They enhanced my commitment to my dreams. They upgraded my subconscious belief system about what I could do with my life.

I bought a $197 online course which taught me how to write viral headlines and pitch articles to big platforms.

Then, I bought 20 copies of THE ART OF WORK in order to have a 30 minute conversation with Jeff Goins, a writer I aspired to be like. He was doing a promotion trying to sell more copies. This investment was a little bit of a mental stretch at the time. Paying around $250 to have a 30 minute phone call seemed a little crazy. But that phone call opened up lots of mental doors for me. It helped me get information directly from the source — which can be more powerful that reading books or taking online courses.

Actually hearing the person talk to you. And acknowledge YOU. And for them to answer your questions directly is very powerful. Even if the answers they give you aren’t profound.

It’s the fact that you’re WATCHING YOURSELF move in the direction of your dreams.

Those are powerful decisions, with huge consequence.

Your decisions determine your destiny.

Your decisions determine your confidence, or lack thereof.

Your decisions determine your identity — who you become is the product of your consistent choice. Your personality isn’t a fixed and unchanging thing. That’s a myth of Western culture. Your personality is multi-faceted. We all have multiple personalities. And our personalities should never stop developing and changing.

Most people FREEZE in their development because they stop INVESTING in life-altering “MOMENTS.” They stop engineering peaks, pits, and transitions.

They stop making powerful decisions.

They stop creating conditions that force them to adapt in new and more powerful ways.

They stop taking on greater responsibility — and thus, are left with limited power.

The Power of Your Trajectory is Based on the Emotion Behind Your Decision

Very few people make truly committed decisions.

Very few people invest in life-altering moments.

Most people have frozen and fixed personalities — which remain locked-in-place because their environment supports their limiting beliefs and suppressed emotions.

If you want to make big decisions, you need to put yourself into a powerful state of mind. You need to put yourself into an emotional place, where you’re connected with your core values and beliefs. Where you’re really feeling alive.

I don’t have a specific prescription for how to do that. However, a few key components of getting into such a state of mind are:

  • You’ll want to be outside of your routine environment.
  • You’ll want to have plenty of time to contemplate (don’t have your phone on you to distract you) what is meaningful and important to you.
  • You may need to push your physical body hard (the mind and body are two parts of the same whole — as is the environment — none of these are disconnected).
  • You’ll need to INVEST to create a moment. You need to create some form of external demand that provokes a deep internal supply of motivation that is currently not available to you.
  • You’ll need to begin ACTING toward your goal. Confidence doesn’t lead to success. You need to behave successfully to develop confidence. Similarly, clarity and inspiration won’t usually lead to action. It’s action in a positive direction that facilitates clarity and inspiration. Finally, your personality doesn’t set your path. Your path is what produces your personality.

You can and will change if you INVEST in peak experiences, and if you consistently act in desired ways. Confidence is a byproduct. Personality is a byproduct. Your behavior and decisions determine these things.

Decisions determine destiny.