Once upon a time… Ever notice that all the good stories seem to start that way? (With the notable exception of “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”)
Have you ever thought of your life as a story? And more importantly, is it a good one? Is your story an adventure, a romance, a comedy (perhaps a little bit of all three)? It’s not one of those long three-hour snoozefests where nothing exciting ever happens, is it? If they made a movie about your life, would it be titled, It’s a Wonderful Life? Or would Speed, You’ve Got Mail, or Nightmare on Elm Street be more fitting? Unfortunately, too many people are living lives like those movies that come out every summer. You know, the overhyped ones with big budgets, lots of action — and tired stories with thin plots. Just because a movie costs a lot of money and has a lot of things going on doesn’t mean it’s a very good story. The same is true of your life.
In my speaking programs, I spend a lot of time talking about looking at our lives as stories. Some people are not at all happy with the story they are living. Most people admit that even if their story is pretty good, it could be better. At the end of my talk, I usually close with this open-ended statement: “If I really want to live a better story, it might make sense for me to…” Most of the time I let the audience fill in the blank silently in their minds, as it’s likely a bit different for everyone. But recently, someone shouted out, “Hire new writers!”
I couldn’t help but laugh, as did the rest of the crowd. But you know what? It’s actually a pretty good point. If you’re less than thrilled with the direction of your story, it is time to hire a new writer: YOU.
Refuse to coast through life accepting the premise and plot other people have set out for you. Turn unfortunate circumstances into the setup for an amazing underdog story. Create amazing scenes that you’ll look back on with wonder and joy.
The trick is to begin acting “as if.”
If you want your story to be more adventurous, start acting as if you were the main character in an adventure story. As you make your way through the day, search for opportunities to be adventurous — and then take advantage of them. Keep it up, and eventually you’ll be making Indiana Jones look like a couch potato.
If you want your story to be more romantic, quit waiting for someone else to take the lead. Start acting as if you are someone who is extremely romantic. Eventually, you will become so, and you’ll attract even more of it into your own story.
If you want a bit more comedy in your life, scatter banana peels all over your home. Ok, a more effective idea might be to start hanging out with a funnier group of people.
And don’t forget the power of looking at the bad things that have happened to you over the years and recasting them in a new light. As Carol Burnett said, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.”
You deserve a great story.
If it’s time to hire new a writer, I guarantee you that you’re the perfect person for the job. Be bold, act as if, and start right now. Because today is the beginning of your once upon a time.