Are you spring cleaning? (Or, like me, maybe thinking about it but not yet doing it?)
All that dusting and decluttering and organizing and airing out…
It puts a spring in your step, thinking about a fresh start.
So, what about your story? Doesn’t it deserve a good scrub and a little freshening up as well?
You blink at me, perplexed.
What, you’ve never heard of spring cleaning your story? Why would you only spring clean your house?
“Because I live in it,” you point out.
This is where I point out that You Live in Your Story too.
It’s in your head. It influences what you do and how you speak of yourself, both to yourself and to other people.
That, in turn, creates the impact you have on others and the roles they play in your life and the opportunities you’ll receive.
It’s the story you don’t even realize you tell when you introduce yourself at a networking event or raise your hand in a meeting (or not, because you’re afraid your idea is not a very good one…)
It’s the story you tell yourself when you want to ask for your deserved raise but don’t want to seem, you know… pushy.
The story you create when you spill your coffee and yell at your kids and arrive five minutes late everywhere (“I’m such a mess! I have so much to do! Why can’t I get my sh-t together?”) like you’re the world’s judgiest Judge Judy.
Isn’t it time to spring clean the muck and the yuck out of those old stories and create one that’s sparkly clean and new and maybe just a bit… powerful?
Lay down your Lysol, Lyndsey, and listen up.
You are not Stuck in the throes of your life of endless winters.
It’s time to come out of hibernation.
Everything you’ve done to this point is mere backstory. It’s an interesting one, all those twists and turns. It has created your present. It’s what you do now that will impact all those future chapters.
You can author this life one page at a time and change up the storyline whenever you want.
Do you know why? Because it’s YOUR STORY. You’re in charge.
“WHEN WRITING THE STORY OF YOUR LIFE, DON’T LET ANYONE ELSE HOLD THE PEN.”
So what’s it going to be?
Let’s make it a PAGE TURNER and get to HAPPILY EVER AFTER!
Here are 12 WAYS TO SPRING CLEAN YOUR STORY:
Celebrate Your Central Character – Sure, she’s got her quirks. She tends to stubbornly stick to her ways or stick her foot in her mouth (or stick too much Ben & Jerry’s in her mouth) or whatever it is that she dislikes about herself. But if she were the lead character in a rom-com or a book, you’d probably want her as your BFF. Why? Because she’s authentic and relatable and YOU. Stop hating on her and give a little love to your leading lady.
Dust Off Your Dreams – What have you been putting off that you’d love to do? Whether it’s a long-term plan of owning your own business or publishing your poetry or losing those last 5 lbs, move it to the front burner. And then light it up.
Choose Your Own Adventure – Perhaps you’ve lost sight of your dreams. Or what once mattered to you no longer does. Why shouldn’t your dreams and goals evolve with you? Start again. Think through what’s most important and make that the title of your current chapter. What happens next?
Declutter Your Life – It’s easy to see how clutter is a creativity killer and a time-waster. It’s why I’m Getting Rid of 30,000 Items in My House. Mental clutter similarly weighs you down. Get rid of anything that no longer Serves You, Grows You, or Makes You Happy including unhelpful thoughts and memories that should have been filed away years ago.
Review Your Goals – Did you know you are allowed to change your mind? Stop focusing on bad flashbacks and flash-forward instead (this is a real thing!) to WHERE you want to be, WHO you want to be with, WHAT you want to do, WHERE/WHEN this will happen, WHY this is important to you, and HOW you will get there.
Negate Past Notions – You are not the same person you once were nor will you be the same person in the future. Let go of the limiting beliefs of others or those you are imposing on yourself. Identify the characteristics that are merely situational (“I don’t feel confident speaking in front of large groups of people”) and stop making them full-fledged character flaws (“I’m not a confident person”). Shed outdated labels and become who you want to be.
Revamp Your Resume – I’m a big believer in having an updated resume even if you are not currently job-searching. Why? Because you want to be ready to lead with your best self and to do so, you have to know your best self. So, What’s Your Story? Create a personal branding statement that plays on your skills, experience, and interests. And always lead with positivity!
Add More Happy – Why is this so hard for so many of us? Figure out what makes you happy and do more of it. If you had a free day or free hour to do whatever you wanted, how would you spend it? Don’t have a day or an hour? Start with ten minutes. Add little moments of what you love in your life and let the lasting effects linger.
Live With Less – Similarly, what do you want less of in your life right now? Less worry? Less guilt? Less running around? Less feeling obligated to say YES to everything? Less weight? (yes, literally)… It’s your story. Edit Frequently to see what MORE you can do with LESS.
Replace Your “Should” with “Could” – There are many things you should do. Many you won’t do for whatever excuse you want to give (lack of time, lack of money, lack of confidence…) So substitute could for should. You could go to the gym every morning. You could earn that extra degree through online coursework. You could ask for a promotion. “Should” invites guilt while “Could” creates an actionable choice you could make (if you choose to!). Make your “Could Do” list a new kind of productivity!
Forgive the People Who Have Not Yet Apologized to You – What do we lose by holding onto anger and bitterness from being hurt by someone? Consider that if there is a villain in your story, you’re the one giving that character power. Time to reclaim it. If you’re so inclined, imagine or even write an apology from this person. What would you want him/her to say? Say it for them. And then forgive and move on.
Aim for Progress, Not Perfection – Perfect stories are rarely interesting and even less relatable. So why do you think yours should be perfect? Perfectionism is a stumbling block. Embrace the twists and turns and messy parts. Don’t get thrown off course when things don’t go according to plan. Just keep going, page by page.
“YOU CAN’T START A NEW CHAPTER IF YOU KEEP RE-READING THE LAST ONE.”
Who do you want to be?
What do you want to do?
When do you want to start?
How about now?
So, Reach for the Rubber Gloves, Rachel. Grab a Garbage Bag, Gabby. Polish the Plot Points, Polly (I’m really stretching here…)
It’s YOUR story. Clean it up!
Valerie Gordon is the founder of The Storytelling Strategist, a career and communications firm. A former award-winning television producer, she now teaches clients and audiences how to find power in their stories and present them with impact and influence. Contact her to learn more about her conference, corporate, and coaching services.