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Defining Your External Factors: Living By Design Part Three

Updated: May 18

Continue uncovering your authentic self with Dr. Phil in part three of his "Living By Design" series.

You can trace who you've become in this life to external factors: 10 defining moments, seven critical choices, and five pivotal people. But first, it's essential to understand what each term means and how to identify each of the factors.

Dr. Phil will then take you through his Five-Step Action Plan that will put you on the right path to creating your life from the inside out!

Living By Design Playbook 2023 with Part 3

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Only YOU will know when and in what circumstances the defining moments of your life occurred. Take time to think through the various stages of the life you have lived so far.

"In every person's life, there have been moments, both positive and negative, that have defined and redefined who you are. Those events entered your consciousness with such power that they changed the very core of who and what you thought you were.”

You may want to deal with only one age range in a single sitting. That’s fine as long as you come back to the exercise again and again until you’ve completed it.

Perhaps you will not immediately remember something from your youngest years, but an adolescent memory is uppermost on your mind. Push yourself to access the earlier years, but don’t get hung up if defining childhood moments don’t surface.

Keep going. You can come back to the earlier time after you’ve explored some of the later experiences. The life stories you’re about to tell are important because they have had consequences in your life. They deserve your full concentration and focus.


Ask yourself the following questions for all 1-10 Defining Moments:

Defining Moment #1, #2, #3...ect... (Click slideshow to expand)

  • Where are you at this moment?

  • How old are you?

  • Who is there with you, or who is supposed to be there with you?

  • What is happening that makes this moment so significant?

  • What emotions or changes of emotions are you experiencing (e.g., loneliness, anger, fear, confusion, joy, power, helplessness)?

  • How would you change this situation if you could?

  • What is your mental/physical experience?

  • State of mind

  • Smells

  • Tastes

  • Touch

  • Happiness/sadness

  • Strength/weakness

  • If you could speak to someone at this moment, whom would it be? What would you say?

  • What are you saying to yourself?

  • What do you need right now more than anything else?

  • Now bring yourself back to the present and answer the following questions.

  • How do you feel now about this defining moment?

  • What emotions are you having now?

  • What are you telling yourself about these events today?

  • What power and self-determination, if any, did you lose to this event, if it was a negative event? (If it was positive, what did you learn or gain)


There are a surprisingly small number of choices that rise to the level of life-changing ones.

"Critical choices are those that have changed your life, positively or negatively, and are major factors in determining who and what you will become."

They are the choices that have affected your life up to today and have set you on a path.


Ask yourself the following questions for 1-7 Critical Choices

Critical Choice #1, #2, #3...ect...

(Click slideshow to expand)

  • Age bracket in which you made the choice:

  • What was the choice? Write a sentence that describes it.

  • Why did you make it? Describe what prompted this choice. Identify as many factors as you can recall.