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Evolution by Experience
Creating durable change from fleeting experiences.
A few times a year I’m lucky enough to do something remarkable, like spend a week in the mountains, go to a music festival, or read a book that hits me like a ton of bricks. These are experiences that have a huge impact on me and inspire me to change how I approach my life, but usually, the experiences fade away before I have a chance to take action.
Today’s newsletter digs into a strategy to make sure the impact of those experiences are never lost.
I hope the ideas and prompts below are helpful, and as always, thanks for reading!
Prompted is a weekly newsletter delivering insights and prompts designed to help readers become a bit better each day. Subscribe to receive new editions every Sunday.
Evolution by Experience
One thorn of experience is worth a whole wilderness of warning.
James Russell Lowell
The great frustration of the most impactful experiences like vacations, concerts, weddings, retreats, or even reading a powerful book is the impact quickly fades away.
When these paradigm-shifting moments occur it feels like our world is shifting onto a new axis and the insight or realizations we have are profound. It’s hard to believe we’ll ever be the same again.
But a few days later we’ve almost entirely forgotten the experience. We slowly slipped back into our old routines before we even noticed what happened.
We all have busy lives and without taking the time to intentionally reflect on the experiences, the positive effects don’t stand a chance of sticking around.
Pouring a bunch of salt into cold water will create a solution, but not all of the salt will dissolve. If we take the time to heat the water and stir it carefully as it’s heating up, all of the salt will be absorbed into the water.
The experiences we have in our own lives are no different. Significant events dump new insights, philosophies, and beliefs into our heads. Unless we take the time to carefully reflect and examine these new ideas as soon as we get back to our normal day-to-day, we’ll never be able to absorb them.
If these new beliefs or priorities are as profound as they seem, we need to take the time necessary to integrate them into our lives so they’re not filtered out when our real life resumes again.
To do this, we need to understand the insights and change our behavior.
If we go on vacation and come back with a profound sense of peace and calm that we’ve never felt before, we need to figure out why we felt that way before changing our behavior to integrate that feeling into our day-to-day lives.
Figuring out what makes us feel a certain way and why requires a significant investment in reflecting on the experience and ourselves. The best way to understand everything going on beneath the surface is cracking open a new journal and putting pen to paper.
Only after we understand the experience and why it had a profound impact can we begin the process of applying the learnings to our everyday lives.
Understanding these experiences and distilling the learnings are incredibly difficult, but the hardest part of this process is changing our existing routine.
Our lives are a fully saturated solution. If we try to add something new it will settle at the bottom of the container instead of dissolving. Successfully adding something new to the mixture requires removing something else.
It seems like improvement and success comes from expanding our capacity to do more. While we can increase our capacity, we can’t expand it far enough to achieve the lifestyle we want.
The sustainable and effective path to growth is living a life filled with worthwhile experiences, processing the learnings, removing the things that no longer serve us, and replacing them with something better.
We don’t need to do more to be better, we need to evolve our routines.
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What’s a recent fleeting but impactful experience you’ve had outside of your normal day-to-day life?
Why was this experience so impactful? What about it was different from your everyday life?
How can you create a new routine or habit that incorporates the most impactful aspects of that experience into your normal routine? What will have to be removed to make room for it?
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.