I am reading through a book by Stephen King- no, not one of his suspense thrillers but the most practical and useful book he has ever written on writing. It’s called, “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.” See? Practical and useful. Thank you Mr. King! Or should I call you Stephen?
Anyway, one thing he writes about is how the best stories written usually don’t start with a fully thought out plot, just an inspiring idea. Stephen (My buddy Steve?) compares writing a story to unearthing a fossil- the story is there and you just have to do the work to uncover it. You may have in mind how the story might go but as you begin to write the plot may change, a character you imagined one way may present herself a different way.
I was thinking about this in the context of how we live our lives. A big theme in psychology leadership and personal development is “writing your own story,” or “the story you are telling yourself.” I love the idea of being purposeful in making goals and being positive in looking at a negative situation and finding something good in it. Still, I usually have problems when it comes to getting started, or committing myself to goal. It seems like such a huge commitment and often my work ethic comes back to bite me in the booty when I start working towards a goal and then as I get closer, especially when I realize, “Oh, I don’t really want to achieve this goal, but I already invested so much into it that I feel like if I stop or change then I am wasting whatever I invested, whether it was time, money, mental/emotional energy, etc.” Sometimes you don’t know how to reach a goal or if you have fully refined your dream until you just pick a direction and go with it, allowing yourself to adjust along the way.
For example, I LOVE the idea of a garden, the thought of rich soil, green growing things, and fresh vegetables.
I mentioned this to my super supportive husband one day and he got a couple of his friends together the next weekend and they built me the wooden outline of a garden one afternoon- ready to be filled with soil for planting. To be completely honest I have only recently been able to minimize enough things in my life to keep the house clean and when I think of the extra work and time that garden is going to require I am dreading filling it with dirt and plants and the pressure to maintain it. The garden frame has been sitting empty on our lawn for at least a month now and I began to realize I was subconsciously hesitating completing the garden. When I gave myself a moment to reflect why, I realized three things.
3) I can still meet my goal of fresh veggies by continuing buy locally grown vegetables. Which I am already doing. Brilliant. (Check out LocalFarmsOK for amazing produce delivery!)
Another example is how I went to nursing school as a teenager thinking that would be my main story in life, a nurse who helps people. Now that I’ve put that phase of my life on pause I have realized I can still help people, just in a different way, as a mom, a writer, a friend, whatever. My main goal can be achieved even though the plot of the story has thickened in a way I never expected.
What stories in your life are you waiting to write because you don’t know the exact plot? What goals and dreams are you sitting on because you aren’t sure how to accomplish them? What about your life is revealing unexpected change (or maybe even need for change)?
Take a few moments to reflect and explore the direction you are going as compared to the direction you would like to go. If there is something in your life that isn’t helping you get to where you want to go then give yourself permission to change. If you have been too afraid to start because you don’t know the whole plan, just start somewhere.
We all have ideas about what we want to do with our lives. We all live and die and will leave our life’s story, but we can life on purpose allowing ourselves to change. I have dreams and goals for my life, but living them out often reveals a different path than I originally imagined. How about for you? Life gives us the opportunity to change all the time. I can either force myself to stay committed to something that drains me simply because of a commitment OR I can re-evaluate and allow myself to change direction. We have a part to play in the stories of our lives. Pay attention when you find yourself dreading the outcome of your life choices and take time to reflect on why, then allow yourself to change to the direction you want your life to go. Even if that is as simple as not having a garden.
You are amazing. Your life is worth living on purpose. You have permission to participate in the story of your life.