When we have those big conversations or reflections on life, we often talk about milestones. We throw parties for graduations, engagements, bookings, and other accomplishments, and these often become powerful memories. When we’re celebrating, we might discuss the moments along the way, but ultimately, that’s what those details tend to become: just moments. The milestone lives on in some document, regalia, or story you tell so much you’ve forgotten which details you’ve massaged or omitted over time. The details — the moments — fade into obscurity.
After all, it’s the moments along the way that make the milestones possible.
While it’s great to celebrate accomplishments, I feel we should be celebrating the moments on at least equal footing. We don’t always notice them in the present, but life is so full of memorable, magical moments that contribute to a full life. They might lead nowhere significant. They might be solitary, isolated. They might be catalytic. Some moments may feel more important than others; some may fill you with awe, but truthfully, they’re all valuable because they make your life truly unique.
Nowadays, with the advent of social media, everyone seems to be chasing the next milestone. We often overlook or take for granted the little moments that makeup ninety-nine percent of our existence. They’re worth paying attention to before you wake up in the future and realize you never lived in the now.
Just ask Chekov: Every detail in a story should play a role. That’s why I’ve taken to documenting three moments a day. It might be something big like seeing Reno Wilson perform at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis; it might be an observation about the weather.
You don’t know how these interpretations of the now might resurface in your future. The goal isn’t to bestow meaning to every moment but to increase awareness, lessen distractions and wake you up to all the awe-inspiring things that pass you by each day.
We spend so much time superimposing the future or the past on our present, we often overlook the important little things happening right around us. No wonder we don’t have the memory for them later. But that’s what documenting is good for; it juices your memory later and helps you make connections you wouldn’t have otherwise made. Suddenly, little decisions and observations depict a richer, more critical timeline. Suddenly, you might care to live in the present a little more.
If you’re always waiting for that milestone moment when everything in your life and career is in order, you’re going to wait forever because that’s not how things work.
Arthur Schopenhauer likened this behavior to that of a donkey, always chasing that bit of hay dangling in front of them but never getting it. The little moments are the ones that change and shape your life. They won’t all do that, but life has too much to offer not to at least try to pay attention. You never know when seeing one little moment through a new perspective may lead to a big opportunity.
Trust your instincts. Take a risk. Make an impression. Show up early. Stay up late. Help someone. Do the right thing. All these little moments might change your life.
Discover. Adapt. Execute. Document. Share. Rewind.
The moments are the things that build to the milestones. The more aware of them you are, the more you can use them and the more you can get from them every single, precious day.