Last week I talked about the importance of seeing yourself as the main character in the unfolding drama that is your life. Once you’re set in your center stage role, and you’ve assembled your supporting cast, it’s time to move on to the plot…your plot.
The action of any story reflects on who did what to whom and why. The main character (that’s you!) is the one who undergoes some sort of change as a result of these actions.
Now a person’s life isn’t necessarily set up as neat or tidy as a novel or play, but there’s still an easy way to break up the action into manageable parts: what’s already happened and what will happen next.
Right now your life story is in media res — in the middle of things — so begin with what’s already happened, looking for the important events that shape the course of your life. Remember, not all the events, but all the big, important events.
The decisions that influenced what happened afterwards. The moments that changed the way you think about life.
So, while deciding to attend college in Nebraska makes the list, how I decorated my dorm room doesn’t.
However, something seemingly insignificant like deciding I would learn how to drink coffee (because that’s what I thought college kids did) turned out to be a decidedly important thing because my drinking coffee meant hanging out in the campus coffee shop. My husband is also a coffee drinker, and it was in the coffee shop that we began to meet up each evening (in an accidentally on purpose sort of way) for a cuppa.
Sometimes I wonder if I’d stuck with drinking tea if I have ended up married to someone else?
Once you have the list of major plot points in your life assembled, it’s on to the second part of this exercise: “what will happen next?”
Which is where the fun starts.
The story of your life is not over, but it is unwritten. And what’s even better? The fact you’re in charge of writing your own next chapter, and the next chapter after that, and the next chapter after that.
So if, when you read the story of your own life so far, you shake your head in disgust, remember that this can be the moment you turn it all around.
No one gets through life without making some boneheaded mistakes, and after making those mistakes the most important question always becomes “So…what will you do next?”
An acquaintance of mine recently celebrated more than twenty years clean and sober because there was a moment when he decided that what he had written in his life’s story was not going to define his future. He knew what happened in the past was not important as what was going to happen next. He decided to write a new better chapter for himself.
Of course the story you write for yourself may not be so dramatic, but the point is whatever you write next is up to you.
- Maybe it’s not a question of eliminating toxic substances from your life but you realize you need to remove toxic people. Maybe you need to change up your supporting cast because there are people there who aren’t supportive at all.
- Maybe it’s time to cash out of the high pressure job that pays great and looks great on paper but leaves you feeling empty and exhausted. You need to change the setting of your daily life.
- Maybe it’s something a simple and complicated as starting a journey toward minimalism, clearing out closets, getting rid of all those “skinny jeans” that you’ll never wear again — you need to change your costuming for this new act.
The point is regardless what “what happens next” looks like for you — you have the power to write whatever story you want.
It might not be easy…but it’s possible.