I always remind my life-coaching clients that they are the authors of their own life story. I use sayings like, “the words are your magic wand,” and explain that what we focus on will grow. This idea that we craft our own stories got me thinking about New Year’s resolutions in a brand new way. You can imagine your year as a story, and regardless of whether you write a detailed outline or just imagine the happy ending and go back and write by the seat of your pants, you’ll get there.
New Year's resolutions have always been a challenge, but add the pandemic, and it feels even harder to come up with a list of things we can control and that we’d like to change. Even if we can drum up a list of things we’d like to change for ourselves, our kids, and our family, making those distant visions become a reality feels tricky, right? Most of our old resolutions, like going to the gym more and cutting down on electronics, seem obsolete in the days of a pandemic. So what do we do to stay optimistic? I think the answer is to view this year’s vision as a story. Try making a vision board of inspiring photos that visually display where your story is headed and put it on your wall where you see it daily. Mine is in my closet.
Maybe your story will be a romance, or a comedy, an athlete’s biography, or a non-fiction book on accomplishment. It might need to have a chapter for each month, or maybe just four chapters, one milestone for each season? I recently wrote my first fiction book and my editors kept bringing up the main characters’ arcs, specifically who the characters were in the beginning of the story versus who they were at the end. What if we viewed our lives like an amazing book? Think about who you are now and who you’d like to be at the end of a year’s time. Who would you have your character meet? What adventures would you like to see them go through? What obstacles will he or she overcome? A great story usually has a narrative arc and real life has similar obstacles that we need to dance around, or sometimes through, to become the best version of ourselves. I am a life coach, and I often ask new clients who are looking to make changes to participate in a meditation exercise where I have them close their eyes and imagine an ideal day. This exercise helps them tap into their imagination and create a vision of what they want to attract into their life. When they finish the exercise, they open their eyes and write down some action steps that will move them closer to this ideal image of themselves.
When I read blogs about a weight-loss journey or a slob comes clean, these women’s journeys have a story arc. They were likely frustrated by extra pounds or extra messes, tackled their antagonists, and ended up with a new version of themselves at the end of their tale. What hurdles are you ready to overcome in order to become a superwoman at the end of 12 months? Don’t worry about getting to "the end" in one chapter or one book; you can write a lifelong series.
I believe we can think about resolutions with the same tenacity and creative lens. What do you want to look like, feel like, and be like a year from now? How will you recognize that this person is more captivating on the last page? Define your ideal character living an ideal year and then work backwards to fill in the plot points, action steps, and story details. What does this character need to do to spice their life up in some way? How can this character connect with their spouse, their kids, and their community? Whether you write this story down in a journal and reference it, or you decide to make a visual of who this character is striving to become in 12 months, capture the story you’re ready to live. I hope you agree that we can throw out those restricting resolutions and replace them permission to dream big.