I’ve found that senior business executives, entrepreneurs and employees climbing the ladder all have a common goal, and it isn’t success, power or fame. On a very basic level, what drives everyone is a desire to create happy and memorable experiences, both for yourself and for the people around you. Take Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, for example. He has said publicly that he takes six weeks of vacation per year, often spending that time outdoors, where he says he does his best thinking. I agree with his approach; for the past 28 years, I have leaned on memory-enhancing experiences to improve my own executive performance.
Try a small experiment. Think about the past week, or even the past year, and try to list some of the best moments of your life in that time period. What made those experiences memorable? Did you know while the event was happening that it would be memorable? Or did you only realize it was a memorable event when you took the time to reflect?
If your mind was flooded with too many experiences, you are a mostly joyous person. You have the ability to create positive experiences not just for yourself, but for others as well. On the other hand, if your mind wasn’t flooded with memories, there’s hope: You can learn to create these experiences.
Giving Creates More Lasting Memories
Can you remember how you celebrated your birthday three years ago? Maybe you cut a nice cake, ate at a wonderful restaurant and received expensive gifts — that you probably can’t recall. For your next birthday, try something different. Go to an orphanage or an assisted living home and serve a meal. This may turn out to be your most memorable birthday. I recently relayed this concept to a CEO at a large retail company. He is now planning a company event to celebrate 100 orphaned kids’ birthdays, offering an incredibly memorable experience not just for the children, but also for his team.
Invest In Experiences, Not Things
A study done by a Cornell University professor found that people get more happiness from experiences than they do from material goods. The findings say that though physical objects outlive experiences, they don’t have a profound impact on your memory.