Slow Down & Savor: 5 Ways to Make Magic Moments Last Longer

June 15, 2020

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Slow Down & Savor: 5 Ways to Make Magic Moments Last Longer

How many times have you asked the question “Where did the time go?” It feels like life is moving faster with each passing year. That’s why this episode is dedicated to slowing down and savoring the good things in life.



As I’m writing this episode, I’m wearing a post-beach vacation glow while being surrounded by the mountains of laundry that are also all too common after extended time away.

On Friday, we returned from a week on the Gulf Coast, and while our family doesn’t have a consistent, favorite vacation spot that we return to year after year, we always end up somewhere between Ft. Morgan, Ala. and Destin, Fl.

This year, one uninvited guest included Tropical Storm Cristobal, so we spent a bit more time indoors than I’d have preferred, but we – all 9 of us between the ages of 17 months and 60 –  made the best of it with games and movies.

So here’s a question…

As I’m staring at this freshly folded stack of clothes that isn’t going to hop into their drawers without some assistance – Are you an over-packer, and under-packer or do you consistently nail it – packing just enough of the right clothes to take you from day one to back home again without missing a beat.

Me? I’m a classic over-packer, but I’ve gotten a lot better in recent years.

A few years ago, you’d have thought I was packing enough for 3 people.

Which brings me to why you’re really here – because I know it’s not to hear me talk about my post-vacation laundry mountains.

What I’m sharing in today’s episode is something I learned this past week while listening to the wind whip and the rain fall tucked away in our bedroom with my nose in a book while Camilla napped.

And that is the secret to savoring life’s most special, important moments – and how to tap into each of our three selves to create lasting memories.

Three selves? Yep – you heard that right.

Maybe you have a family vacation on the horizon, or another important milestone in your future. Whether it’s travel, climbing a literal or figurative mountain, or you want to simply savor the sweet summer days at home with your kids – you are going to love what’s waiting for you in this episode. 

And I know – This is a podcast about work, life and balance – and as much as I love digging into how to get more done in less time, increasing your efficiency and being productive – there’s so more to life than just crossing things off a list.

That’s why Episode 33 covers

  • Why we should make savoring moments in time a priority

  • Who exactly are those three selves I mentioned, and what does that even mean

  • 5 easy ways to savor your next magic moment to make it last long after it officially ends

“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Wise words from Ferris Bueller in the 1986 John Hughes film about a school skipping adventure through Chicago.

As someone who’s senior superlative wasn’t Most Likely to Succeed or Best Smile, but instead Most Absent – that movie – and that quote especially resonates with me.

And yes, you read that right, – through a combination of out-of-town extracurricular competitions, conferences and my habit of checking out after Physics to go home and grab a mid-morning nap before English IV – I was the most absent senior girl of Winnfield Senior High School’s class of 2003. I only wish I had a plaque on the wall to prove it.

But regardless of whether you were Most Absent or you took home the Perfect Attendance award, or were somewhere in the middle – I’ll bet that now, as adults, you and I both can wholeheartedly agree with Ferris’s wise-beyond-his years reflection on the speed of life.

When we’re in a rhythm living in a solid sequence of routines, or we’re living in reactive mode running from one fire to the next – it’s not uncommon to look up and wonder where exactly the time went. And the biggest reason for that perplexing question is because nothing exceptionally memorable took place between the Point A and the Point B in our days.

Or – did something memorable happen… but we were too busy, too consumed with getting to the next step, or crossing the next thing off of our list to notice?

I’m going to assume that if you’re listening to this podcast, you – like me – want to live “the good life” whatever that means for you personally. Making memories, going on adventures. Actually doing the things on your bucket list and living a life of no regrets.

But you may also be so swept up in a rushing sea of things to do, places to go and people to see that you’re afraid that if you stop for too long – everything – laundry, deadlines, responsibilities – will all come crashing down around you. So you keep chugging away toward exhaustion.

And what about vacations?

Vacations are often experienced more physically than mentally. As in – we’re there. We’re at the beach, or at a cabin in the mountains – or we’re exploring the streets of a new city  – but our minds are somewhere else.

Worried about a project, whether our team has things under control, or maybe you’re a solo business owner like me and everything is totally up to you, so you feel like you can’t turn off at all in order to keep the train on the tracks.

And that’s if you even let yourself take a vacation at all – recent research has shown that about a third of Americans haven’t taken a vacation in two years. Reasons being given were not being able to afford taking time off, or not wanting to spend money, being afraid to step away from work.


But – this episode isn’t about prepping for vacation. This episode is about savoring moments any time of the year – vacation or not.

Making Magic Moments

We want magic moments in life. We want to make memories. The kind that pop into your head when you smell a certain sunscreen or hear that familiar song. The kind that make a smile slowly form across your face as you zone out for a sec and get transported back to another place and time.

You know that feelingthat’s what we want to create.

Our Three Selves

And turns out – it takes three versions of yourself to really make that happen.

In her book Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, Laura Vanderkam introduces three different selves within each of us: the anticipating self, the experiencing self and the remembering self.

  • The anticipating self – is wondering about, planning and worrying about the future

  • The experiencing self – is in the here and now

  • The remembering self – thinks back to the past

Put another way

  • the anticipating self is future focused.

  • The experiencing self is present focused and

  • The remembering self is focused on the past.

Here’s an example of my anticipating self in action as it relates to the beach trip I just returned from.


Before I left, my anticipating self perused our resort’s website – looking at photos and videos of our destination. Checking out our unit, looking at a map of the grounds, figuring out where I could get a good coffee. I felt myself getting excited and looking forward to long days out by the pool or under an umbrella at the beach, catching up on issues of Southern Living and watching Millie play in the sand. Visions of this beach trip would pop into my head for weeks in advance of our departure date, often while doing mundane things like loading the dishwasher or taking a shower.

Our anticipating selves are typically super optimistic. My anticipating self did not envision any rain on this vacation, and it was my optimistic anticipating self who prompted me to pack 4 books for a 7-day trip despite the fact that I have a very mobile toddler. 

One line about our anticipating self from Vanderkam’s book that really stuck with me is this

“Many a dreary March commute has been warmed by the sun at the beach rental, booked for July.” 

And it’s so true – our anticipating selves have the ability to stretch a moment that hasn’t even happened yet giving you the ability to set the scene in your mind before it becomes a reality.

Your anticipating self’s BFF is your remembering self.


Having arrived home on Friday – my remembering self is looking back on Thursday’s evening walk on the beach with Millie. The cotton candy sunset, the perfect weather after the storm. Her fat little legs in her blue and white striped swimsuit, waddling by the water – trying to keep her balance in the wet sand. Her high pitched squeals whenever the water would lap up close to her toes. Like a typical millennial mom, I snapped about 20 iPhone photos, but that magic moment is completely engraved in my memory, and I look forward to holding on to it for years to come.

Our remembering selves have the ability to stretch a 10 minute magic moment for weeks, years even.


But the challenge is in the present. Our experiencing selves.

Our anticipating selves get to romanticize what we hope will happen – like the 4 books in my backpack that were mostly untouched. And our remembering selves get to wear rose colored glasses and look back on the best parts.

My remembering self chooses to focus on the giggles and squeals on the beach, not the meltdown that happened once started to leave.

Our experiencing selves have to do the work. 

While our anticipating selves look forward to the beach with excitement, it’s our experiencing self who actually has to pack the suitcase, load the car, make the drive, lug everything out to the beach, and deal with all of the little frustrations and difficulties that occur along the way.

Our experiencing selves have to show up and make the memory – the magic moment –  so our remembering selves can savor it for years.

And despite the anticipation, sometimes, probably even most of the time – it can be easier to not do the work and to take the path of least resistance. Which usually looks like sitting around.

Here’s another example of our experiencing selves having the hardest job.

Have you ever looked forward to a date night, or a girl’s night at the end of the week. And then, by the time Friday rolls around – you’re tired from work and the excitement has worn off.  Your experiencing self starts questioning… Do I really want to get dressed and go out to dinner? I could just stay home, sit on the sofa, order a pizza and watch Netflix while scrolling on my phone… that would be easier…

So – what do we do about our experiencing self so that we’re actually creating those magic moments, making memories and setting ourselves up to savor them for years to come?

2 Steps to Creating Magic Moments

In Off the Clock, Vanderkam suggests a simple, 2-part strategy that I can really get behind:

  1. Plan it in.

  2. Do it anyway.

So what does this mean?

Well – It means not leaving your magic moments up to chance.

Call it planned fun, or planned spontaneity – whatever you want. But the first part – Plan it In is critical.

Back in college, I spent a summer interning on Capitol Hill in DC. But before I left, I attended a panel all about DC internships appropriately hosted by former DC interns. One of the best pieces of internship advice – and dare I say it – life advice, was to make a list of every monument, museum and activity you wanted to take in during your intern summer summer and to pick your weekends and plan in advance. Maybe one weekend you take a train up to New York, and another weekend you do a night tour of the monuments. Because once you get there, it’s going to feel so much easier in the moment to watch TV, order pizza and before you know it the summer’s over. And you can’t fit everything in DC into your last weekend there.

The same goes for your summer – or fall or whatever season is on the horizon as you’re reading this.

Create a Summer Bucket List

One thing that I like to encourage my time management coaching clients to do is to create a summer bucket list.

Nothing fancy – just a quick list of things they’d like to do during the summer. With kids, without kids – at home, day trips – whatever. What traditions are they creating and continuing? What are the must-do’s vs. the would-be-nice-but-not-totally-necessary’s? Creating the summer bucket list itself can be a fun activity with your partner, involve your kids, or team up with a friend or group or friends to create a list together.

And then – once you’ve got your list sketched out – pick your weekends and plan in advance.

Now – I’m not suggesting that you meticulously plan every minute of your available time like a cruise director slash drill sergeant, but picking weekends and creating a loose plan is your best, first step to conquering your experiencing self who might prefer to sleep in and microwave some Pizza Rolls instead of getting up and packing sandwiches and cutting fruit for a picnic in the park.

I would just hate for you to get to the end of the summer and realize that you didn’t make the effort – because it takes effort – to create any magic moments, when all it takes it a little planning.

So let’s say you’ve got your summer bucket list – and like I said – this idea works just as well in the fall and winter – especially during the busy, tradition-filled, event-heavy holiday season – you’ve got your bucket list and you’ve picked your weekends and made some plans.

Step 2 might be even harder, but you know it’s going to be so worth it. Step 2 – is Do it Anyway.


Here are a two things to remember when your experiencing self is feeling more TV + sofa than adventure + outdoors.

  1. First, feeling tired is inevitable. It’s not a great excuse unless you just pulled an all-nighter or you’re afraid your driving will be impaired. We will always feel some version of tired for some reason – especially as adults, especially if we have jobs, especially if we’re parents, and especially if we’re parents of young children. Parents of newborns listening right now? Stop reading and go take a nap if you can. As Vanderkam says in Off the Clock, “we draw energy from meaningful things.” Chances are after a coffee and getting out the door you’ll feel better and you won’t even remember that you’re tired.

  2. Remember your remembering self. Whether you do anything or not, whether you stay home or go out. Whether you watch episodes of The Office for the 37th time or you have a stay at home board game date night with your spouse, time will pass anyway. How you spend it is up to you. What gift can you give your remembering self by choosing something out of the ordinary?

So – so far we’ve talked about WHY it’s important to make memories and magic moments a priority. Frankly, because we want to live our version of the good life, a life of no regrets, and when we’re 80 years old sitting on the front porch sipping sweet tea in our rocking chairs, we want to smile fondly, with satisfaction and joy, as we look back on our highlight reel.

We’ve talked about the not one, not two, but three inner selves that guide our memory making and enjoyment – enabling us to stretch a 10 minute memory out for years.

5 steps to savor magic moments

But – how exactly do we set ourselves up to truly savor those magic moments whenever they’re happening?

Magic moments are fleeting – if they lasted forever they’d lose their luster and the “magic” would disappear.

In the book Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, researchers Fred B. Bryant and Joseph Veroff share what they call the “Ways of Savoring Checklist.” It’s basically a toolkit of strategies that we can use to hold on to a magic moment as it’s happening.

Here are a few that you can try based on their checklist:

First. Take a few deep breaths. Slow down. Look around. Anyone who’s ever experienced a major life milestone – from graduating high school or college, to getting married, having a baby, or giving a speech on a grand stage – is given the advice to “just take it all in.”

I still remember having an almost out of body experience at my wedding, walking onto the dance floor in my white dress, hand-in-hand with my brand new husband thinking – “Oh wow. This is my wedding reception. I’m at my wedding reception. This is happening.” I remember the music, looking around at the faces of my loved ones, the ceiling in the ballroom, the flowers… all of it.

Second. Look back. As it’s happening, in the moment – think back on what it took to get to that moment. The planning, the practice, the journey. Even if that journey was making yourself get out of bed when you felt tired, and loading the car when you didn’t feel like it. Let yourself feel gratitude for doing the work to get there.

Third. As it’s happening, imagine how you would tell someone about this moment. What would you say? What details would you share? How could you convey the sights, sounds and feelings to someone else. Now – this doesn’t mean that you actually have to share this with someone, but the process of deciding how you would share further cements the moment into your memory. Etches it just a little bit deeper.

Fourth. If you’re with someone – family, friends, colleagues – tell them how much you value the moment and that you’re happy they’re there to share it with you and be a part of it.

Fifth and finally – Remind yourself that this moment is temporary. This is fleeting. This moment won’t last forever, so go all-in and enjoy every minute of this magic moment right now. 



James – First of all thank you SO much for leaving such a kind review. I’m loving that you’re loving the guests who have joined me on the show so far and that you’re getting the advice that you needed!

I will say – that if you ever have any questions, absolutely feel free to reach out and ask! I’d love to create an episode that answers your questions. So grateful to have you as a listener and a subscriber! Thanks again!


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