Fishing for Moments that Matter

As I’ve written before, lenses let you see life from a different perspective. Here’s another lens you should try.

Accept for a moment the following idea: Most of life is noise and doesn’t matter. Assume that the day-to-day choices you make are unimportant. What you wear, what you eat, whether you get stuck in traffic or have a conflict with your boss or a coworker. See them as ripples in a pond – there for a short time, but quickly fading back into the deep lake that is your life.

Instead, believe that there are a few precious moments that matter across a lifetime. Maybe once a year. Maybe only once a decade. Moments that make a permanent change – creating new depths or changing the shoreline. 

Often you can’t recognize them until well after the fact. Our family likes to tell the story of how a small change to a local library program (making it worse) led, through a series of seemingly random events, to the most amazing vacation experience we’ve ever had. Life has a certain randomness to it. 

But there is another kind of moment that matters – the ones you create for yourself. Creating moments allows you to directly affect the trajectory of your life. If you do it well, once a decade becomes once a year, and maybe even once a month.

There are people who regularly create their own moments. Often people consider them lucky, but I have learned there is more to it than that. My wife is one of those people. After many years of watching her create moments, I think I finally understand how she does it. The good news is that it’s a skill, learnable just like any other.

There are two parts to it.

The first is a general attitude about life. Embrace the idea that these magic moments have a frequency to them, and maybe – just maybe – this next interaction will be one of them. Think of life as fishing for moments. As you go through all the moments of your life, don’t just let them pass you by. Instead, look at them a little more carefully, waiting for that faint tug on the line, just in case. Even if you don’t immediately find that next moment, you become both more present and more optimistic, which makes you happier and more fun to be around.

The second one is more tactical. This is where you customize the bait to attract better fish (or in this case moments). The idea is to find people who have had one of those moments – an amazing vacation, a great partner, retired early, or whatever they did that you found inspiring. Then go fish for details you can replicate. “How did you do that?” is a great opening question. How did they find out about it? Who did they talk to? Find out as much as you can. Assume if they did it, so can you.

Like most everything else in life, fishing for moments only works if you actually do it (that’s why it’s one of my personal maxims). So go find someone who did something you’d like to replicate and go fishing. It might just change your life.

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