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Appreciate the Good Ole Days

| “We need to remember, throughout life, there will always be the last time. And at that moment when you lose something important, you’ll wonder if you actually appreciated and valued that experience while you still had it.”

I record this just hours after watching my grade 12 students hugging and signing each other's shirts as they said goodbyes on their last day of high school. They were excited for the future but genuinely sad as they realized… this is the end of an important period of their lives.

You too will have many "lasts." Some of them will come unexpectedly. Are you appreciating every moment of your life today? 


  • Why you should appreciate every stage of your life, including this day
  • An eye-opening and mind-shifting visualization exercise
  • The questions you can ask yourself to increase feelings of gratitude & appreciation
  • The one biggest mistake you want to avoid as a teen and as an adult
  • Why it’s important to define your values early in life

     And so much more.


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Welcome back to season two of the Ivy League Prep Academy Podcast. Equipping you to successfully pursue the college of your dreams. We believe everyone deserves to reach their full potential and the admissions process shouldn't hold you back.

As I'm recording this, the seniors, the grade two of students in my high school have just finished their last class and are taking time to prepare for their final exams before they leave high school forever. And we had a little ceremony, and the students marched through the school, were cheered on by their fellow classmates, congratulated for all these years of hard work and for completing this. And they signed each other's shirts or shared last hugs, and they celebrated and they also cried.

Many of them cried and they cried because even though they're excited to be finished with high school, and they're certainly excited to be moving on to college and to new adventures and new challenges, yet it's still a little bit sad and it's a little bit bitter to realize that this was the end of high school. And it really hit me hard when I saw tears in some of the tough guys eyes. It hit me that, you know, we need to remember that there will always be a last time.

When my oldest brother got married, I remember at the wedding ceremony, my aunt giving advice. Everyone kind of gave advice in order, and her advice was advice that I will never forget. She said, My advice is to appreciate every stage.

So many couples look forward to having kids so much that they don't appreciate what it's like before they have kids. And once they have newborn babies, they look forward to the time when babies can sleep through the night so that parents don't have to be so sleep deprived. And once they get through that, the parents begin to look forward to the time when they don't have to change diapers anymore, and so on and so forth.

And they just constantly look forward to some other day, some other time, rather than appreciating the stage that the child is in or that the marriage is in at that moment. Because there is beauty and there is value in this moment in this stage of our lives. And this is really poignant because I am a grade twelve teacher and I've watched these students over the past several months look forward with eager anticipation to this day and this stage, to the time when they're no longer in high school.

And here we are on the last day, and it finally dawns on them that this really is the last time, this is the last time they do this. And there's a feeling of loss and a feeling of sadness and pain there. And that's where the tears come from.

Because in that moment, actually, when you lose something important, you wonder if you actually appreciated the value of that experience while you still had it. At some point, in your life. Think about it.

You will have a last meal. You will have many lasts. So in this moment, can you hold on to the perspective that someday you will no longer have the experiences that you have now? If you lose it eventually, can you choose to appreciate it even more now while you still have it? Whatever it is that you're doing, whatever stage you're in right now, whether you're in grade nine or grade twelve or you're getting ready to apply for a master's program or you graduated a long time ago and you listen.

To my podcast because you like the life advice. As a professional, whatever stage you're in, can you hold on to the perspective that someday you will no longer have these experiences, that you will lose them, you will lose this stage, and that you can choose to appreciate it now while you still have it? Whatever you're doing, just imagine for a second that this is the last time you can do it. What will it feel like when you lose this? When this is no longer your experience, when you're no longer in this stage? In fact, as you're listening to this, you may have had a last conversation with someone that you didn't expect to lose so quickly.

And this message is really hitting home to me now as I sit here just a few hours removed from all the teary eyes and all the hugs and all of the excitement. Yes, but also real, sincere sadness as well, at the loss of an important stage. Because many of these students realized that these days were the good old days and that this was their last one.

So don't wait until you've passed the good old days before you really appreciate them. I want you to stop and just think, what if these are the good old days? Now? That is the core identity of the Ivy League challenge. Everyone who has participated in the Ivy League Challenge knows full well how much we talk about the fact that middle school is not there to prepare you for some other stage in life.

The point of middle school is not to prepare you for high school. The point of high school is not to prepare you for college. The point of college is not to prepare you for your first job, and your first job is not there to prepare you for your next job and your next job and your next job.

Until when? Some other day you're going to finally be qualified to go and do the thing that you want to do in the world, to make your impact, to leave your imprint? When is that going to happen? If you've been a part of the Ivy League Challenge, you know how important this is to me. You have heard me talk about all of the work that I did professionally as a high performance coach. I worked with professionals.

I worked with CEOs and Olympic athletes and professional athletes and musicians. And I worked with professionals in many different fields to help them perform at a higher level. Much of the work that I did was helping people who had arrived at middle age.

Here they are in their forty s or fifty s or sixty s or beyond and say to me, look, I always thought that some other day I would be better qualified and I could go make my impact. I could go write my book, I could go start my business. I could make the difference that I wanted to make in the world.

But here I am at 40 or 50 or 60 or older, and I'm still preparing for some other day, some other time. I'm still buying into that myth. Well, guess what? The point of today is not exclusively to prepare for tomorrow.

Instead, I want you to shift your mindset and sincerely ask yourself the question, what if this stage is the good old days? What if I'm going to look back and realize that this was the best stage of all? Did I appropriately appreciate these days? If these days are actually the good old days, I don't want to wait until they've passed before I appreciate them. I want to appreciate them now. So that is why it is so important.

Even if you're young, it's so important to identify your values. What really drives you, what really makes you tick, what makes you special, and what makes you you understand your values, your strengths, your interests, and understand the idea of the sphere of influence, right? The fact that you do have a sphere of influence when you're young, that sphere of influence is tiny. And most of the world's concerns are outside of your sphere of control.

Outside of your sphere of influence, you have no control over most things that occur in the world, but you do have control over certain things, and you can focus your energy on the things that you have control over. So that means you do what you can with what you've got, where you're at right now. You appreciate the day and you begin to do what you can with what you've got.

So you have values. And because you have values, you have things that you care about, things that you're willing to sacrifice for because you're alive and you recognize that about yourself. You know what your values are.

You begin to find injustices or you begin to find problems. You begin to find areas of the world that could be improved, that matter to you. So what do you do when you're 14? Instead of saying, well, look, later on I'll be qualified and I'll go back and I'll start solving these problems, no.

Say, what can I do now within my sphere of influence? Because, yes, my sphere of influence is tiny, but so are the stakes if I fail, or even better yet, when I fail because I'm just beginning. I haven't developed any skills around problem solving in this area. When I fail, I can get back up and no one was hurt.

All that happened is I learned. And because I learned, now I can try again. I can be reflective and I can figure out what I can do better.

And when I figure out what I can do better, I can develop new skills. And those new skills empower me and they allow me to enlarge my sphere of influence because I can begin solving real problems. So my sphere of influence grows as people see what I'm doing and begin to trust me more.

My sphere of influence grows and I scale my impact and look at what has happened to me already. I am so different from the vast, vast majority, 99.99% of the students in the world.

Most students are still learning what's important from their teachers. They're still learning what they should value based on what the school system values and what their teachers tell them is important. They don't have this self awareness and they spend most of their time and most of their energy focused on problems that are outside of their control.

So they're constantly complaining or whining or frustrated about life. You are already just by deciding to shift your focus away from preparing for some other day and some other time, you're already putting yourself in that tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of students who are way above the rest. But it doesn't stop there.

You don't just know your values, you're acting on your values. You're taking action because it's important to you. And over the following years, you get better and better and better at identifying problems and finding viable solutions and developing your problem solving skills.

And your impact grows and it scales. And then we begin to add some strategy to this and we teach you how to reach out to people who can empower you. University professors or professionals in the field, local media and then regional media and then national and international media.

And we can get your story and your impact out to the world. And what does that look like? As you look back, you look back on your last day of whatever, of middle school, of high school, of college, of some other stage, you look back and you say wow, those really were the good old days and I lived them to the fullest. And now, because I lived those days to the fullest and I spent my time and energy in areas that were important to me, fulfilling my values and I spent my time and energy making a difference and developing skills that allowed me to make an even greater difference.

I truly made the most of the good old days. And because I did that, I am in position for the next phase of my life to be even more powerful, even more impactful, even more exciting. And as life goes on, each new stage is the good old days, and we begin to appreciate them as we're experiencing them.

I can say with total confidence, it's a better way to live. Learn all about it in the Ivy League challenge. This is what the Ivy League challenge is all about.

Don't buy into the myth that middle school is there just to prepare you for high school, and high school is just to prepare you for college. If you live out your limited days and years in middle school and high school in that way, you will not set yourself apart from the rest of the field. You will not be competitive for the most elite universities, but even more importantly, you will look back on that and say, wow, those were the good old days, and I did not appreciate them.

I did not live them to the fullest. Instead, let's live them to the fullest. Yes, the fact that we set ourselves apart and become eligible for the absolute elite universities in the United States is wonderful.

And that's a fantastic byproduct of this mindset shift of this shift of behavior. But the real benefit of the shift in behavior is the life you get to live, the you that you become. There's no greater thrill in life.

I promise you. This is what makes life magical.