Despite what you are told growing up, there is no playbook for how you should live your life. There’s simply choice and the meaning you give to each choice. Does this sound terrifying to you? It shouldn’t! If you let this soak in, you realize there are infinite ways in which you can choose to be part of this world. You can choose how you interpret things that life throws your way. As a leader of teams, you can choose how you prioritize your time and resources. Everyday, you are choosing to show up a certain way. Whether you realize you’re doing it or not, you are already writing your story with your current choices.
This blog post is to help you write your own deeply personal story. One that gets you excited and makes your heart sing. It’s a journey that never ends. The best feeling in the world is knowing that each year and each decade, you are getting closer to realizing your true self and the life that you’re meant to live. Here are some tips to get you started.
#1 – Shift from Victim Mode to Creator Mode.
Our natural default as humans is to react to things that happen to us, which we call Victim Mode. When we are in Victim Mode, we overly focus on external problems and challenges that were brought onto us by others. We heavily rely on external solutions and validation. We attract people who are in a similar loop but in a different role, like the Rescuer (the hero) or the Persecutor (the villain). If you’re honest with yourself, you probably have a couple of these loops going on in your life. Think about ex-lovers as a great example.
When we are in the Creator mode, we don’t start with problems but with a powerful vision. We start by conceiving the result we want to create. We orient our life around creation. We welcome challengers and coaches who are a necessary part of our growth. Think about Martin Luther King Jr’s speech: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Do you see what I mean?
#2 – Visualize the Results You Want to Create.
You don’t have to find your purpose in life to live a great life. But you do need to have a vision for what a good life means to you. Treat it as a white canvas with no right or wrong answers. Trust your intuition. If you are a visual person, create a Pinterest vision board for yourself that resonates with how your dream life would look and feel. If you are more into music, create a Spotify playlist to spark positive feelings that help you get in touch with your dream life.
Some questions that might help you:
- What are the times when I feel happiest and at my best? What are some common themes?
- What are the times when I feel unmotivated and not at my best? What are some common themes?
- Who are the people who bring out the best in me and whom I feel happy being around? Why?
- Who are the people who bring out the worst in me and whom I feel unhappy or insecure being around? Why?
- What do these things tell me about my inner needs and desires for my life and career? Can I observe what those are without any shame or judgement?
#3 – Write Your Story. Start with a letter.
Writing your story can feel daunting but it’s actually really helpful. Start by writing a letter to yourself as your future self. Some people write 10-year letters but I chose to write a 1-year letter. In other words, 2022 Nancy was writing a letter to 2021 Nancy.
Here is the homework my executive coach gave me:
- Start the letter with: “Dear (your first name), everything in my life has improved, because…”
- In the letter, give as much detail as you can what will have happened in your life in one year starting with that statement. Place yourself in the future looking back on all the learnings, milestones and life events you will have attained.
- Everything must be in the past tense, and phrases like “I hope”, “I intend”, “I will” must not appear.
- Avoid focusing on things that you “should” have done. Instead, focus on things you want to do.
- Think about the I, We, and It of the story. Who have you become as a result of this year? How do others describe you? What are your relationships like? What kind of tribes are you part of by the end of the year? What have you accomplished? How have you helped other people?
- Fall in love with the life and the person you’re describing.
- Don’t try to make it perfect. It is just for you and you only. Understand that life is a journey that continues to unfold and the true destination will reveal itself along the way.
As you do this exercise, you will be surprised to see what shows up and what doesn’t show up. You will probably write it, re-write it, and re-write it again. That’s okay. Take your time.
#4 – Start manifesting your story now.
The beauty of a one-year letter is that it is a tangible timeframe. Re-read this letter often to remind yourself of the new choices and results you want to create for yourself. Practice being the person who is reflected in your story. Fall in love with yourself and your life over and over again with each step. See how it transforms your relationship to others and to work. Chances are, you will start to see some major shifts.
I hope you have a fun time with this exercise. I’d love to hear how it goes at firstname.lastname@example.org.