“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin
Our lives are a compilation of stories we tell ourselves.
Stories of what we’ve done, how we’ve done it, and what we want to do. Stories about who we are and who we are not.
These stories create our reality, but they’re not always real. They’re our interpretations of the truth, filtered through our perceptions, expectations, hopes and fears.
Sometimes these stories don’t work for us.
They don’t lead to what we envisioned and they may even hold us back. We wind up stuck, unhappy, disappointed, or worse.
“But the stories of our life are malleable. We can rewrite them as often as we want.”
By doing so, we create a new reality for ourselves.
If you feel like your life story could use a rewrite, here are a few ways to start…
Change your villain.
Maybe it’s a person, maybe it’s a condition, maybe it’s something within you that holds you back.
Whatever is the enemy in your life story — the thing you think prevents you from getting what you want — you have the power to change it.
You may not be able to make it disappear (though sometimes you can), but you can shift how you see the role it plays in your life.
“Just think: What if the thing you think is the villain in your story isn’t actually what’s held you back? Maybe you’ve battled the wrong villain all along.”
Change your origin story.
Every hero has an origin story, but it’s possible you’ve chosen the wrong story to define how you came to be the person you are.
Think back on the choices you made, the path that led you to where you are today, and recognize there may have been other circumstances that were just as influential to your development in better ways.
Perhaps your story isn’t one of somebody who suffered misfortune in your youth, but rather one of somebody who overcame incredible challenges.
“This may sound like semantics, but semantics matter in storytelling.”
Change your location.
If you move across the world, it’s safe to say your life story will be rewritten. But you don’t have to make that drastic a location shift to alter your story.
Think about the locations where you spend the majority of your time and consider how things might change if you altered those locations.
A different neighborhood, a new workplace, an alternate hang-out spot with your friends.
“What if you took the five places you spend most of your time and replaced three of them with new places where you did new things with new people?”
Sitcoms typically have all their scenes take place in the same couple locations because those are the situations in which the show is based. If they change those situations, they change the show.
The same is true for your life.
Give yourself new powers.
Your life story up to this point has been based in large part on the abilities you have developed — your powers. But, you can always learn new skills and these newfound powers can drastically change the course of your life.
They can be career related, a hobby, or passion, but stretching yourself and learning new things will also change the course of your life.
Change your supporting cast.
Who is the supporting cast in your life? What friends, family, and co-workers occupy the most space in your story?
Think about the influence they have on your life and how you feel about it. Is it positive? Negative? Distracting? Inspiring?
“Switching up the supporting cast in your life — or the ways you interact with them — can drastically change your story.”
End the chapter you’re in.
Most stories are told in chapters and every chapter has an end.
If your story isn’t heading the direction you want, look at what’s happening in your life and consider which chapters you can end.
“Ending a chapter creates space to begin a new one which takes your story in a fresh direction.”
Change your genre.
If you had to pick a genre for your life story, what would it be? Action? Comedy? Tragedy?
It’s a tough question to answer, but it reveals your perspective on the life story you’ve told yourself.
What would happen if you started to see your life through the prism of a different genre? If you made a conscious decision to change your tragic outlook to a comic one? Or if you chose to focus on romance over drama?
Make your end your midpoint.
As we get older, we settle into our lives, careers, and relationships and begin to feel our story has been written.
If you don’t like how it’s come together, that can be a problem.
But there’s a simple thing you can do to reframe your perspective and rewrite your story.
“Remember that wherever you are in your life right now is just the midpoint of the story — not the ending.”
In screenwriting, the story’s midpoint is where everything the hero thinks is happening in the story gets turned upside down and the hero realizes their story has actually just begun.
That’s not a bad way to think about the story of your life — no matter where you happen to be in it.
“The most important thing you get with an unraise, is opportunity. If every moment of your day is spoken for, you’re left with scant time to imagine, daydream, and tinker.”
“The corporatized nature of the stories we consume has led fans — already having a hard time understanding the idea of an artist’s vision — to assume almost total ownership of the stuff they love. And I use that word ownership in a very specific sense — these people see themselves as consumers as much as they see themselves as fans.”
At 21-years-old, Benjamin Franklin created an interesting way to spend his Friday evenings.
In 1727, he gathered together a group of people— printers, surveyors, a cabinetmaker, a clerk and a bartender among them — to meet weekly and discuss ways to make themselves and their community better.
The club, which Franklin called a “Junto,” led to innovations such as volunteer fire-fighting clubs, improved security through night watchmen, a public hospital and even the first public library.
While their discussions were designed to cover a mix of personal, intellectual, business, and community topics, they were rooted in a set of 24 questions Franklin created.
If you wanted to be a part of the group and spend time with Franklin, these are the things you’d have to talk about.
The questions, which can be found in Franklin’s papers, are listed below along with some of the general areas they covered.
Even today, they’re not a bad starting point for any discussion you might have with people interested in improving our world.
You Had To Share Something You’d Learned
“Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?”
“What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?”
You Had To Be Interested In Failure As Well As Success
“Has any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?”
“Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?”
“Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?”
“Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?”
You Had To Have Some Gossip
“What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? of imprudence? of passion? or of any other vice or folly?”
“What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue?”
“Who do you know that are shortly going [on] voyages or journeys, if one should have occasion to send by them?”
Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
You Had To Want To Help People
“Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately sick or wounded? If so, what remedies were used, and what were their effects?”
“Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?”
“Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?”
You Had To Want To Change Things
“Have you lately observed any defect in the laws, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?”
“Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?”
You Had To Want To Network
“Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?”
“In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?”
You Had To Name Names
“Have you lately heard any member’s character attacked, and how have you defended it?”
“Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?”
“Hath any body attacked your reputation lately? and what can the Junto do towards securing it?”
“What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?”
You Had To Care About The Junto
“Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?”
“Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?”
“Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?”
“Facebook is full of true believers who really, really, really are not doing it for the money and really, really will not stop until every man, woman, and child on earth is staring into a blue-bannered window with a Facebook logo. Which, if you think about it, is much scarier than simple greed.”
“It’s not just that we face a shortage of free time; it’s also that our free time, in order to be satisfying, often must align with that of our friends and loved ones. We face a problem, in other words, of coordination.”
“Learn to pay attention to what you pay attention to. It’s so easy to dismiss it. You have to train yourself to grab onto those things and not let go.”
“You’re going to make decisions that are not in your best financial interest because they make you happier or more fulfilled or because of your values.”
“The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” — Linus Pauling