My coworker sent me a blog post about decluttering your life in order to declutter your brain and bring more internal joy (a very good post, actually). I was perusing around the blog’s website and reading through several posts. Although short, each post seemed to have a great point or base idea that stimulated self-reflection—always a good thing in a piece of writing. However after I got to about the fifth one, I said to myself, “the story isn’t going anywhere.” The author had brought up a provoking thought or described a book or article, but then I was left hanging and wondering where the rest of the post was. Although a strong start, the story didn’t go anywhere. There was no revelation or conclusion, just the teaser of an introduction.
This realization induced another: where is my story going?
I realized I don’t have an answer to that at the moment, quite frankly.
I recognize that no one knows where their lives will end up. Our life’s path is twisted and winding, and we often just have to keep moving along it. However, we should still have an idea of where our story is going, lest someone else write it for us. I fear that leaving myself open like an unfinished page will allow someone else to come scribble in some words, forming a plot twist that I really don’t like. If I elect to leave a page open, I best be sure that I am at least locking the book up so I’m the one controlling the next sentence that gets penned.
So what do these writing metaphors mean? Basically, I am saying that without self-assured direction we become lost. We allow others to tell us what is important and what is not, what is worthy and what is trash, and if we are good enough, or if we are failures. Heavy, right? It is. The complexion of the human mind and soul is, well, complex. It is important to take time to check back in with yourself to make sure you are still living the life you want to be living, and that you are not allowing outside influences to dictate how you view yourself.
I had a pretty clear direction of where I wanted my next steps to be when I took the job I am currently in. I wanted to be my own girl-boss, self-made, passion-pursuing, butt-kicking, life-loving woman. Now that I am in the midst of this job, I have let some of what I wanted my direction to be fall by the wayside in order to be successful at what I am currently doing. This happens. This is also fine. Life is about being flexible. Because I am able to be more self-aware (from recent self-improvement and a lot of inner reflection), I can recognize that I have gotten a little off track, and can realign myself with my vision of who I want to be— my ultimate story.
Okay, so I won’t leave you hanging. How can you get back to your story? First, you have to know what it is. My favorite tactic is one that I found in my life-changing book Playing Big by Tara Mohr. In it, Mohr helps you find your inner guide, and envision what she looks like. Through this process, I was able to focus on who I wanted to be in my future, and the life I wanted to have lead by the time I got there. Empowered and inspired, I was now able to create my story. Once you envision your end-self, work backwards to see how you could get there. What could you add or eliminate to your life? What could you improve? What can you change? Meld all of these things into a story line, and you are on your way.
If you have your vision but have slipped a little on the path, try these methods to get yourself straightened out:
Yes, seriously. Even if you’re not into therapy stuff, sometimes we can’t fix what is wrong if we don’t know it is broken. This also allows for a mental clean-up; we can’t function if our heads are too full of the daily problems and dilemmas we engage ourselves in.
Make a story board.
When creating books (or anything else that tells a story), one of the first steps is making a story board. This provides a visual summary of where the story is headed and allows for aligning up the details with it. Create the story board in whatever method will help you best. You could draw it. You could sing it. You could make an excel spread-sheet. Paint it. Make a list. Keep a journal. Do whatever will best help remind you of your direction.
As a lover of the tangible, I have a few pieces of jewelry that I lovingly refer to as my “power jewelry.” My golden arrow necklace is a simple reminder of my personal direction and to always move forward whenever I see it in the mirror. My moonstone ring makes me feel powerful and reminds me to believe in myself, because I can do it, damn it. Pick a piece that you can wear, a stone for your pocket, or just a picture or saying that you can put on a desk or counter that reminds you to stay aligned with your story.
You will have to find your inner peace anyway to find your inner guide, so might as well practice. You don’t have to Om or follow weird movements. Simply be in a peaceful place, close your eyes, and envision your future. It doesn’t have to be detailed or a specific scene. Just bring forward who you want to be, the power you want to have, and the state of being you hope to achieve one day. Actively reminding ourselves of what we want is quite powerful.
Go do it, it’s good for you. Not only does fitness improve your health, but being active [without the earbuds distracting you] is a great “me” time and provides ample time to get some good thinking and reflection done. Use the power of your body to create motivation and conviction in yourself and your abilities.
Change Where is my story going? to This is how my story will end.