How to get the most out of any experience.

Every experience in your life has the potential to be valuable. Every day, every meeting, every interaction. From major holidays to kickoff meetings to casual conversation, there is gold to be found everywhere. But too often the experience comes and goes without living up to the potential it promised. This is the deeper message behind the play Our Town and the movies The Sixth Sense and Weekend at Bernie’s.

The best way to get the most out of any experience is to imagine it is already over before it has begun.

Before the meeting starts imagine you are walking out of it. Before you get in the car with another person imagine the drive is over. Before your guests arrive imagine they are leaving. Before you try that pick-up line imagine what the other person looks like when you are sober.

Then ask yourself these 3 questions:

  1. What went right?
  2. What went wrong?
  3. What would I do better next time?

With this quick and easy pre-mortem evaluation you can ensure that you will:

  1. Make the right things happen.
  2. Fix what went wrong before it occurred.
  3. Do things better THIS time.

I use the simple evaluation technique all the time. And I use it on massively different types of experiences.

Before Christmas or a birthday, I imagine the perfect day, map it out and schedule the day to live up to my expectations. More detail is better. So is more eggnog and more smiling. Smiling’s my favorite.

But I also use this technique when I drive my kids to or from school. I think about the conversation I wish I had. I think about the opportunity to connect, encourage, or entertain as if it already slipped away. Then I make sure to connect, encourage or entertain while I still have a few minutes. And when the ride ends with my kids opening the door laughing I feel like we are winning at life. Especially if they remembered their backpacks.

Key Takeaway

Understand your opportunities before they are gone. Imagine the final outcomes before they are baked. Then adjust anything you can to align your actual experience with your ideal. Great events don’t just happen. You make them happen. And a little forethought provides the road map you need to a better ending.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

+For more ways to create better outcomes, check out my new book What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? from Ripples Media.

Did you know your lane is ending?

Yesterday I was driving and saw a sign that told me that the lane I was driving in was ending soon. It was a valuable sign. It warned me that I was going to have to make plans for a future that didn’t involve that lane. And soon.

I quickly began making plans to exit my current lane. I had to. It offered no long term prospects. I soon found a perfectly good lane next to the one I was in. I turned on my left blinker, checked for cars, and finding none I merged onto the adjacent lane. And all was good again.

The thing about lanes.

All lanes end eventually. Just ask the leadership team at Blockbuster, or Chuck E Cheese’s. Or Lemmings. The key is knowing when it is time to find a new option.

We don’t always get a clear sign that our lane is coming to an end.  But tastes and technologies change. Jobs end. School ends. And bad habits run out of runway at some point. When they do you are forced to choose something new.     

Lanes offer us a path for now. But not forever. Throughout your life and career, you will have to make choices and changes. You can plan, and make changes proactively. Or you can wait until the lane is gone, you are stopped on the shoulder, and the 18-wheelers won’t move over to let you in.

COVID-19 brought lanes to an end.

The racism lane is coming to an end.

Drugs and alcohol abuse lanes are bumpy and popular. But short.

Key Takeaway

Change is constant. Get used to it. Prepare for it. Get good at it. And you’ll find that new and better lanes are easier to find.