“If you’re going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all.” — Joseph Campbell
It’s not often that I hear anything worth listening to on mainstream radio. Today, however, it posed a thought-provoking question I liked. It was this, and I’m paraphrasing here:
“If you picked up a book and discovered it was your biography from birth to death. Knowing that you can’t rewrite the narrative, would you read past your current point in life?”
I think that’s a great question. It really challenges you to think about what might be on those pages — although what surprised me was that many people from the public didn't want to read how their lives played out.
For me, however, I feel like I’d happily read it. What this article proposes are a few things I believe are essential for creating a story and life you’d happily read about. Here we go:
Be the Author of Your Life, Not the Victim of it
“When life happens, you can be either the author of your life or the victim of it. Those are your only two choices — accountable or unaccountable. This may sound harsh, but it’s true. Every day we choose one approach or the other, and the consequences follow us forever.” — Gary Keller
Unfortunately, most people aren’t choosing to be the author of their life. Rather, life is just happening to them. Their daily choices — both consciously and unconsciously, have them acting as a mere character in a story with no idea as to how it will unfold.
As Darren Hardy wrote in his book, The Compound Effect:
“Most people drift through life without devoting much conscious energy to figuring out specifically what they want and what they need to do to take themselves there.”
This is why most people do not want to read the story of their life. Without any real direction behind their daily activities, every new page beyond their current point would simply be a complete and utter shock to them.
In short, it probably wouldn’t make for very good reading. Thus, it’s easier to just live day by day and be in ignorance of what tomorrow holds. Although ignorance is not bliss. Instead, it’s tragedy. As Jim Rohn once wrote,
“Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is poverty. Ignorance is devastation. Ignorance is tragedy. And ignorance is illness.”
Getting away from this starts by knowing 3 things:
- Where am I now?
- Where do I want to go?
- How am I getting there?
Once you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there, you’ll be bringing a purpose to your everyday actions, you’ll be heading where you want to go, and ultimately have more certainty in your future.
Build Habits that Take You Where You Want to Go
“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” — F. Matthias Alexander
This sort of reality is nicely illustrated in the movie Click. The main character, Michael Newman, who is played by Adam Sandler, is given a magical remote. With the remote, he can now fast-forward, rewind and pause his life. His forward button, however, is the fast-forward.
Thinking he is about to receive a promotion, he fast-forwards his life to the time he receives it. Although unbeknown to him, is that it actually takes ten years. Indeed, he thought he was on track and deserving of a promotion. In reality, he didn’t actually have the habits or behaviors that were taking him there.
So, the question is: Could you fast forward your life and say for certain where you’d end up in the next 12 months?
Are you doing the right things daily that are moving you towards your ultimate vision? Are you even thinking about where you’d like to be in the next 12 months? Because whether you fast forward or not, they’ll surely arrive.
As Benjamin P. Hardy has said, “Your daily routine is the clearest indicator of where you’re going.”
Dandapani similarly once wrote, “Anybody practicing something for 10 hours a day, becomes really good at it. So, if you practice distraction all of the time, 10 hours a day, what do you become good at?”
You are what you repeatedly do. So, where are your habitual behaviors taking you? Where do you want them to take you?
Live a Life of No Regrets
“A life worth living might be measured in many ways, but the ONE way that stands above all others is living a life of no regrets” — Gary Keller
A while back, I spoke to a friend of mine who was on the fence about taking a year off Med school to travel the world. I gave him one piece of advice: “Whatever decision you make, ensure it’s one you can live with for the rest of your life.”
When I spoke to him again, he said he’d taken the leap and was going to do it. I asked what pushed him over the edge.
“If not now, when?” he said, “I’m not going to be young forever, I can’t put a guarantee on the future. If I don’t do it now, I might never do it, and I couldn’t live with that regret.”
To me, that’s a great reason to do anything. I’ve said in the past, “A good decision is one that leaves you saying, “I’m glad I did,” not “I wish I had.”
Although too often, people don’t live with this sort of mindset. They’d rather do what’s easy, what feels good in the moment, or even they’ll do something simply because it’s what other people expect of them.
However, these are all terrible reasons to do something, and will likely lead to regret later on down the line. I can imagine many of the pages would be read while asking, “What if?” “Why didn’t I take a chance?” “How can I go back?”
Although this doesn’t have to be you. When you change your future, you simultaneously change the narrative of your past. So, begin now with the end in mind and make the present count for a well-lived future.
If you treat each day like a new page of the story that is your life, you’ll write an epic story. You need not worry about writing it for anyone else. Instead, make it a book you’re proud to read.
You never know how many pages you have left. So, why not make each one better than the rest?