How a moment can change your life

Have you ever wondered how some people are able to maintain discipline for longterm change but others lose motivation quickly?

As I was reading the Holy Sh!t Moment by James Fell, he discusses how a eureka or “holy sh!t” moments can prompt long-term and sustainable change. He also discusses how we can prepare ourselves for these types of moments and why they work so well.

A eureka moment can change your identity and create long lasting change.
Photo by Justin Leibow | Accessed on

Main impacts

  1. Eureka moments are emotional and provide a shift in priorities, passion, or identity.
  2. Identity shifts are essential.
  3. There are always cascading effects in other areas.

Eureka moments are emotional

Eureka or holy sh!t moments, are usually quite emotional, and the emotional aspect helps create a shift in priorities, passion, or identity. For example, finding out that you’re pregnant or will become a parent can cause huge shifts in priorities as a result of this new identity (parent). There are lots of examples of pregnant women quitting drugs/alcohol/smoking once they find out they’re pregnant, and they’re able to successfully quit as this new identity becomes their new focus/priority and they’re constantly reminded of it.

You can help prep for a eureka moment by laying the ground work and being open to it, but generally the moment has to happen naturally.

Here are some ways you can start prepping for a eureka moment:

  • Be open to new ideas or experiences.
  • Think about what you want to change and why.
  • Start questioning your motivations.
  • When you’re stuck, go distract yourself and do something totally different until you know what you need to do next.
    • Ideas for ways to distract yourself are to go for a walk, exercise, cook, or do something creative. Basically you want to walk away from it until you’re ready to continue working on it. Creating that space gives you time to come back with a fresh perspective or new ideas.

As this is an emotional event, it can come from a place of discomfort. If you’re currently unhappy with your situation, this can be a good time to start prepping for a eureka moment.

Identify shifts are essential

Ideally, you want to focus on the type of person that you want to become. Focusing on being the kind of person who is healthy and thankful for what their body can do is much more powerful than focusing on how much weight you want to lose. Focus on being the person who perfects a specific sport, not on getting to a specific size or weight.

Most importantly, shame doesn’t work and often times shame can actually make things worse. So don’t keep making yourself feel bad, rather focus on the kind of person you want to be. As you develop your new identity, you’ll gradually change your exterior (or skills) too.

If you change your identity, your habits will also change. If you view yourself as someone who is healthy and takes care of themselves, then you’ll find that you gradually start making healthier choices and habits. Identify who you want to be and start asking how each decision aligns with that identity.

Another important tip is to not let yourself daydream about what life will be like when you reach your goal. Studies have shown that if you daydream about the end result, you almost feel like you’ve accomplished the goal and you often lose motivation to work towards it. Daydreaming about end results don’t get you where you need to be, rather it’s better to dream about the process and how much you’ll enjoy the journey.

Cascading effects

Positive habits in one area often spill into other areas of your life. This can be for two common reasons:

  1. A result of the focus: If you’re focused on getting really good at a sport, you often end up eating better and consuming less alcohol, drugs, and junk food with the specific aim to help you achieve your goal. Maybe you noticed certain foods make it more difficult to train or recover after training, so you end up eating it less to improve your training. Even if you’re not specifically looking to change your eating habits, your key goal is both influenced by and influences other aspects of your life.
  2. A result of how you feel: Often times becoming successful in one area can make you feel happier and more confident. That feeling can help you be successful in other areas. This confidence can spill over into areas like your career or relationships, helping you to feel and do better in those areas too.

As you focus on improving yourself in one way or building expertise in one area, you often affect other areas of your life. It makes sense, each aspect of your life is both connected to every other aspect of your life and to everything else around you.

I believe this can also happen in the reverse too. If you’re in a funk mentally or hating some aspect of your life, that negativity can spill into other areas. It can make you less motivated to take care of yourself or less motivated to achieve your goals.

I believe everything is connected, so it make sense how there can be so many cascading effects.

Final thoughts

I found this book really interesting. It was quite different than the typical self improvement book that just focuses on doing the work. It really highlighted how a huge mental and emotional shift can spark and sustain change. Sure you still need to do the work and be consistent in pursuing your goals, but this was an interesting complement to the typical improvement tips.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!