This year, 2015, I have decided to challenge myself and you, if you are ‘up for it’, to create a better life story.
Think about it for a moment. If our lives are a story, then it follows that the way that we live our lives writes the pages.
Everybody enjoys a good story: no matter how it’s told, which speaks to us, its message is heard and we get something from it.
Let’s face it, we have all had experience of sitting through stories whilst knowing our time could be better spent. You know the sort of thing: the book you start but realise a few chapters in that it’s predictable and nothing special but you finish reading it because you started it; or the movie you sit through because you paid for it even though the character annoys you no end, or the same story you’ve heard 100 times before from a loved relative or friend but you listen because it’s easier (& kinder) than reminding them you’ve already heard it!
Normal, everyday life can be uninteresting, mediocre, dare I say it, a little bit boring at times and yet we carry on living it in the same way for reasons we don’t understand, even though we might feel deep down that there must be more.
What has really got me thinking about my life and the story I’m creating, is a book recommended on a blog I love. The book is called: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. It is a head spinner! The thing that has struck me most is the concept that it’s not just my story. My story is my children’s story too .
For myself, I have lost three close family members this year and had my second baby. As a result of these life experiences, I have felt a bit thrown off track and unsure of myself. I feel like I’ve lost my way a bit and I’ve struggled with all the associated mixed up emotions. One thing is clear though, I know I want to create a better story for my family.
We all have our own unique stories and experiences that have shaped us, either consciously or unconsciously, but how often do we take time, stop to think and honestly assess how our lives, the things we do and the way we behave, affects those around us?
For me, 2014 bumbled on its way without me having much awareness of it and now I could barely tell you what happened besides a few stand out moments. I want 2015 to be different. I want it to have meaning.
I will be setting out to accomplish this challenge by exploring the many principles to creating a good story from Donald Miller’s book. I would like to share with you five of these which I have found particularly thought-provoking.
I plan to explore and work on these myself to try and create my family a better life story. I hope they inspire you too…
”In a pure story, there is purpose in every scene, in every line of dialogue. The story is going somewhere”.
If a film were to be made of somebody’s life, the story would have to have a purpose. The focus would be on the character and how he or she overcame obstacles to achieve an end-goal. The parts of life that ultimately made a difference to the outcome of the story. The everyday things would be left on the cutting room floor.
It’s difficult to look at our lives and think about it like that but just imagine what a good story you could live if you planned it and lived life intentionally, with the purpose of creating that story.
2) People can’t live without a role to play
”I pictured his daughter flipping through the channels of life, as it were, stopping on a story that seemed most compelling at the moment, a story that offered her something, anything, because people can’t live without a story, without a role to play”
This is about a friend of the author whose 13 year old daughter has been found with pot and is going out with a slightly dodgy lad who her parents disapprove of. After some thought, the father realises that the only reason his daughter has herself involved in this situation is because ‘she was just choosing the best story available to her”. He then decides to proactively create a better story for his whole family and his plan is for them to work together to build an orphanage in Mexico. It sounds quite dramatic but it works! The relationship between the daughter and her parents becomes incredibly close again and she dumps the loser boyfriend because, her father’s words: ”no girl who plays the role of a hero dates a guy who uses her.”
What kind of roles are our children playing now? What roles would we like them to play in the story of their lives? What if the way we bring them up really does make a difference to the stories they will go on to live?
We need to find ways of teaching our children the things we believe are important for them to know but we have to know what these are ourselves so we can be mindful of them all the time. Children start learning the moment they are born and are like ginormous sponges. Every single thing that they see, hear, observe, experience – it all gets absorbed and retained.
Phew, what a massive responsibility for us as parents! If being a parent was a job that we were being paid for, this task needs to be given some serious consideration, planning, time and effort to even have a chance of being a success.
3) Face fears
”A story is all about a character. The same elements that make a movie meaningful are the ones that make a life meaningful. A character has to face his greatest fears. That’s the stuff of good story.”
If you have fears about anything, make this the year to face them. Once you become aware of what it is you fear – it may be risking rejection, learning to love, possible failure – if you feel deep down that facing this fear could make your story better, make a plan to do it.
4) A character is what he does.
”…the stories we tell ourselves are very different from the stories we tell the world.”
Other people can only know who we are and what we aspire to be by the way that we act and live our lives. It’s no good living in a fantasy world where we can make believe that we are on our way to achieving our goals of becoming fitter, slimmer, more productive in our work, a more patient mother etc.
If we don’t take positive steps to actually do the things necessary to achieve our dreams, that is all they will remain and the rest of the world will never know that part of who we truly are.
5) Listen to your writer
”you can call it God or a conscience, or you can dismiss it as that intuitive knowing we all have as human beings, as living storytellers; but there is a knowing I feel that guides me toward better stories, toward being a better character. I believe there is a writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness.”
What do you think would happen if you listened to that voice in your head once in a while? The one that quietly seems to know what’s good or bad for you. The one that quietly but insistently suggests you really should switch off your computer and play with your child for 10 minutes, or take a moment to look at the sunset or go out for a walk, or to pick up your phone and call your friend to make a plan for a catch up coffee. The one that sounds alarm bells and tells you to hold your tongue and not to talk about a person in that way because it’s just not nice, or you really should be taking better care of yourself by not eating that extra chocolate.
Perhaps if we listened to that voice more, we’d consciously choose more quality, purposeful activities and as a result, we might feel more content and fulfilled with our life at the end of each day.
These are just a few of the many profound and thought-provoking concepts to living a better story that I found in Donald Miller’s book. There are many more to explore but to begin with, these feel like a good place to start and might make a difference to my story and therefore my family’s story this year.
I hope that having read these principles it may have made you think a bit differently too about the story you are creating and perhaps encourage you to join me on this challenge to create a better one of your own. I will post motivational activities and inspirational ideas as I find them so please do sign up for my newsletter.
‘’Once you know what it takes to live a better story, you don’t have a choice. Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die, and it’s not natural to want to die.”
I am so excited to be part of a collaboration of brilliant bloggers who have come together to bring you over 40 ways to making this the best year ever!
Please do take a look and be inspired xx
1. How to Set and Keep Goals to Make This the Best Year Ever | Jen @ Girl in Garage
2. 15 Ways to Stay Organised at Work During 2015 | Elizabeth Harrin @ A Girl’s Guide to Project Management
3. How Personal Style Will Help You Achieve Goals Faster in 2015 | Cherene Francis @ Aura Image Consulting
5. 42 Ways to Practice Perfectly & Become an Expert at Almost Anything | Amy Garro @ 13 Spools
6. Easy Exercises to do on a Cruise Ship | Amanda Woods @ Adventures All Around
7. 10 Simple Ways to Eat Healthier This Year | Dawn @ Reveal Natural Health
8. 31 Days to a More Fabulous You | Julie Bonner @ Mom Fabulous
9. How to Make This the Best Gardening Year Ever | Kendra Spencer @ a Sonoma Garden
10. 5 Ways to Make this Your Best Monarch Season…Ever! | Tony Gomez @ Monarch Butterfly Garden
11. 12 Scriptures for Goals and Guidance | Julie @ Loving Christ Ministries
12. How to Build a Starter Emergency Fund in 30 Days or Less | Jackie Beck @ The Debt Myth
13. Family Verse of the Week Challenge for 2015 | Jamie Yonash @ Life is Sweeter By Design
14. Hot Work at Home Jobs for 2015 | Holly Hanna @ The Work at Home Woman
15. A Year of Intention | Hilary Bernstein @ Accidentally Green
16. 2015: Our Best Year Yet | Ashley @ Leaving the Rut
17. Create a Better Life Story | Bronwen Warner @ Tummy Time and Beyond
18. Get Ready to Get MDfit | Tom and Anne @ Eat & Be Fit
19. 5 Free Ways to Learn Something New This Year | Sarah Fuller @ Earning and Saving with Sarah Fuller
20. Healthy Leek Soup | Mirlandra @ Mirlandra’s Kitchen
21. Health Resolutions: Baby Steps to a New You | Ellen Christian @ Confessions of an Overworked Mom
22. 5 Ways Busy Moms Can Get Motivated to Work Out | Diane Nassy @ philZENdia
23. Be Prepared for the New Year | Jennifer Dunham Starr @ The Memory Journalists
24. 3 Steps to a Healthier Life in 2015 | Joe Goodwill @Average Joe Cyclist
25. New Year’s Resolution: Cook More Often! | Kim Pawell @ Something New for Dinner
26. I Should What? 28 Ways to be Happier | Karen Young @ Hey Sigmund
27. 9 Ways to Get Healthier In The New Year | Amy Maus @ Home and Farm Sense
28. In 2015 Resolve to Take Control of Your Money | Kristia @ Family Balance Sheet
29. Eucharisteo: A Year of Thanksgiving | Lani Padilla @ Simply Fresh Vintage
30. No More Tears at IEP Meetings: Make This Your Best Year Ever! | Lisa Lightner @ A Day In Our Shoes
31. Learn to Save Money on Groceries | Melissa Buckles @ Everyday Savvy
32. How to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution – For Real This Time! | Michelle @ Dishes and Dust Bunnies
33. 52 Weeks to a Better You: Week 1 – Go to Bed Early | Mindi Cherry @ Moms Need to Know
34. Food Street: How a Community Has Joined Forces to Start a Street Farm | Sam Walker @ Bubble ‘N Squeak
35. Organizing Coupons with the Binder Method | Sara Steigerwald @ Sisters Shopping on a Shoe String
36. How to Make This Year the Happiest Yet | Shambray @ Shambray.com
37. A New Year, A New You | Sharon Rowe @ How to Get Organized at Home
38. 5 Ways to Get Paid for Losing Weight This Year | Anna @ Real Ways to Earn Money at Home
39. Tips for Successful Whole30 | Deanna Michaels @ From This Kitchen Table
40. 75 Ways to Be Healthier in 2015 | Maryea Flaherty @ Happy Healthy Mama
41. How to Make 2015 the Best Year Ever! | Jennifer @ My Boys & Their Toys
Fashion Resolutions: How to Add Style to Any Outfit | Ellen Christian @ The Socialite’s Closet