In Million Miles, I talk about structuring your life like a story so that, when you’re done living it, it will have been more meaningful. I also talk about how if you’re life story were spelled out on the back of a DVD cover, what would it say. Something like:
“Donald Miller desperately wanted the new Volvo, but he didn’t have enough money. So he got a job at a local grocery store and worked the nightshift till he could afford the down payment….”
Not so exciting. But change those elements around (what the character wants and how much conflict they are willing to endure) and you’ve got the stuff of a great story and a great life.
I didn’t say it in the book, but I actually tried this a couple years ago. My storyline went something like: “Donald Miller wants to write more books and pay lots of unhealthy attention to Amazon reviews…” and my heart sank. I think that was about the time I started The Mentoring Project, and I’ve been happier (and more engaged in my own story) ever since.
So I thought I’d invite you into that little experiment. Maybe you and your friends, or you and your family could write a little storyline. What I mean is, what would it look like to write a two sentence summation of your life plot?
Now here’s the thing, most people are living a more exciting life than they think they are. Life doesn’t feel as great as a good movie, no matter how good your life is. If you’re raising a family, just trying to make ends meet, that’s great. Only add something more heartfelt to it…
“Joe is trying to make it through the recession, fighting not to associate his self worth with his lack of money, all the while keeping the love alive in his home.”
Have you ever thought of replacing the mission statement at your church or organization with a storyline? It might help everybody involved see things more clearly. And plus, everybody involved would feel like they are part of a story. And being engaged in a story is more exciting than obeying a mission statement.
Here are some tips on a great storyline.
1. State who the character or characters are.
2. State the single primary ambition. Make it clear and defined.
3. Name the conflict, and if you can, state how that conflict will be overcome.
4. Ask a question at the end that pertains to the climax (Will The Mentoring Project be able to shut down fifteen percent of American Prisons?)
The truth is, a person can be part of many stories. I am part of about five major stories in my life right now. And my guess is you are too. You’re church may be telling a group protagonist story, and your family may be telling one too. You may be telling a story solo, also. Regardless, the clearer these elements are, the better each story will be lived out.
What this will do is give you a greater clarity about what you are supposed to do today, this week, this month and this year. You’ll find yourself in the theater of your own mind watching an interesting story unravel.
Here’s some humorous motivation my friend Susan Isaacs sent to get you started. If you’re in a small group, show this clip and then do this exercise together: (Don’t worry, it’s not a lesbian kiss fest. It’s a funny video, I promise)
P.S. Next week, we will spend all 5 days on the blog working on your catch phrase!