Are you feeling stuck in some aspect of your life? Not sure how you ended up where you are? Not sure how you picked your mate, your career, or the color on your living room walls? Maybe it’s time to rewrite the story of YOU.
I love to read. Whether it’s fiction, biographies, business, cookbooks, or personal development, they broaden my perspective, offer me pleasure, insights and information. From the first few words, I’m pulled in. I’m intrigued or confused or maybe even shocked. But I want to know more. I want to know who did what and why.
We may not always admit it, but we read to the end of the book in hopes of a happy ending and a wrapping up of loose ends. We look for great ideas to implement and aha moments. We seek validation. We want to feel connected to others who’ve walked a similar path.
And the same is true about you and your life. You want a happy ending. You seek to understand yourself and others. In reality, most of us spend little time mapping out the plot of our life story. We react more than plan. We do what we’re told. We follow in someone else’s footsteps because they seem to have it all together or because we have no idea what else to do.
We tend to define ourselves in narrow terms—single, Account Manager, father, Gemini, multi-tasker. But those titles often don’t say much about what we’re passionate about and what gets us up in the morning.
Here’s an exercise I use with my clients to help them cut through the titles they use to describe themselves: I ask them to imagine their life summed up in about 75,000 words between a front and back cover.
Writing the story of you can be a fun, challenging, sobering and/or insightful opportunity to shift your perspective in a big way. If you’re stuck or not sure what’s next for yourself, take a few days or weeks to answer the following questions:
- If your life is a book, what is the title? Is there a theme? Is it a best seller or gathering dust in the sale bin?
- Where might I find your book? Fiction? Nonfiction? Action/adventure? Romance? Science fiction? Mystery? DIY?
- How do you describe yourself in the opening chapters?
- Are you the hero, villain, victim or damsel in distress?
- Who are the leading characters? What makes them significant in your story?
- Is the book written in first person, or do you use a narrator?
- If your editor told you to add or delete three chapters, which ones would go and what would you want to add?
- If you could eliminate a few characters and add a few, who goes and who enters? What is the impact on you?
- What are the major plot twists?
- Is the best part of the story yet to come, or is the focus of the story on the glory days of a time already in the past?
- As the main character, do you have a plan in mind, or are you at the whim of a lot of minor characters you encounter along the way?
- How do you want the story to end?
- Is there a moral to the story?
- Would you recommend this book to a friend or colleague?
- Would you actually want to read the book?
Life is based on the big and little choices we make every day. Even when stuff happens that we didn’t anticipate, we still get to choose how to deal with those unexpected plot twists. Whether you see yourself as hero or victim is usually a matter of perspective and much of that you tell yourself is fiction.
At mid-life, our choices become more important. Like it or not, we don’t have all the time in the world to put off big decisions or move ourselves in a more positive direction. But every day, you have the opportunity to start a new chapter, to open yourself up to new perspectives, to allow characters to enter or exit.
THIS WEEK’S CALL TO ACTION:
Get started on the story of YOU. Use the next 12 months as an opportunity to turn your life story into a best seller!