Five key elements for living a great life: a life worth remembering.
“Be the hero in your own movie.”
Is your life a story worth telling?
What are the 5 ingredients of a great adventure?
Are you ready to get your story odd?
We all live our life to the best of our abilities. We all want to accomplish great things for ourselves, for our loved ones, and maybe for the advancement of humankind.
As we live our lives, we are telling ourselves different stories to either justify what we did or galvanize us to do more in the future.
As humans, we love stories because they are rooted deep in our primal brains. We pass on values, cautions, warnings, and ways of behaving when facing a specific situation through stories.
One story is the most challenging to write: that is the story of our life. The challenge lies in the fact that we can only connect the dots backward, as said by Steve Jobs.
Indeed often, the story of our life will be told by others when we are gone. Yet it does not mean that we do not have any control over how we want the story to unfold.
Yes, life is 10% what we do and 90% our reactions to what happens to us.
However, we can be in the front seat of our eulogy to ensure that our life story has everything to do with how we would imagine it.
In this article, we will use storytelling techniques to script the best story we will never read: the story of our life.
Let’s jump right into the 5 tools that we have to live by to write the best story of our life.
1. WRITE YOUR ENDING FIRST! — Yes, you heard it right. Of course, we have no control over when, how, or where we will die.
Yet we can imagine what people will say about us, how we lived, what our drivers were there.
We could imagine what memories we would leave behind us. We would imagine our impact on ourselves, our friends and family, our colleagues, the environment, and the whole world.
Then starting from the end, we can do retro planning. We can easily identify if we are on track to get the eulogy that we would write if we were present at our own funeral.
Doing that kind of exercise will help us determine what is important to fight for and what we have to let go of, be it things or people.
2. STOP TELLING, START SHOWING UP — We spend a lot of time telling people what they should do, how they should dress, and why we are right.
We all have been kids if we are not fortunate enough or desire to have them. We all pick up the behaviors of our parents, our friends, and our family when we are teenagers.
As employees, we have been pick-up the style of the leaders in our organizations, be it managers or the top executives.
As humans, we love to hear stories as an inspiration. Yet when it comes to actions, we are doomed to mimic those around us for better or worse.
If our life is all about speculating how the world should be and what could be done to save the planet, we are all doomed to fail.
We must focus on acting and letting our deeds do the talk.
3. YOUR LIFE MUST ANSWER A QUESTION — We all have many questions popping up every day which beg for our attention.
We can spend our lifetime trying to answer other people’s questions. And we won’t even be able to answer an atomic fraction of it.
We are often confused in life because we did not sit down and write the most important thing: the one question that we are here to answer as an individual.
We call the answer to that question many things: mission, vision, purpose, etc.
We must ask ourselves why we are here and what is the one issue the universe is asking us to solve.
We can solve so many complex problems. Yet as long as we have not faced that one question that is bogging us every day, we will be a troubled spirit in a volatile world of our own creation.
Maybe we are here to inspire others, be the best parent to another human being, tell the untold stories of the less fortunate around us, help solve a humanitarian crisis, etc.
We need to find that question specific to us and write down the answer.
4. KNOW YOUR WANTS AND YOUR NEEDS — We often confuse what we need with what we want.
Here is a simple definition that will clarify the difference, and it is a big one.
A want is an external desire, a thing outside of the world that, if we get it, we think should help us get what we need.
A need is an internal issue from within, a psychological thing that we want to resolve to help us move forward.
We must not confuse both. Let us give an example to illustrate the difference.
Many people want to be rich. Their want (external desire) is to get as much money as possible.
Their need can be psychological safety because they grew up in a poor community.
Their need can be to use that money to change their family and community’s life experience.
We all have an internal need for which we might think that, rightfully or not, money can solve.
We have to spend a lot of time identifying what we need in life. Doing such an exercise will help us explore more desirable outcomes to get what we want to fulfil our needs.
5. FIND OUT YOUR UNIQUENESS THROUGH YOUR CHALLENGES — We humans are social animals.
We often fear being outcasts. So we do everything to blend in and be part of our social group.
We want to be like all the people around us. We seek to be even. “Even” is great. Yet “even” is flat.
We must strive to be odd. “Odd” is what makes us different from the rest. Our oneness is our uniqueness.
We spend so much time hiding our challenges. As a result, we miss an opportunity to share what makes us unique.
We miss an occasion to share our journey with the world. Yes, we are all human beings. Yet we have something so unique to us for so many reasons in each of us.
Our challenges are what make us odd. Our challenges are what make us shine through the evenness of conformity.
We must be ready to be vulnerable, to show our humanity by welcoming challenges and sharing the way we overcome them or not.
We are the results of challenges life throws at us. Those are the scars of life that make our souls unique.
Those are the five vital elements of an extraordinary life:
1. Write your ending first!
2. Stop telling, start showing up,
3. Your life must answer a question,
4. Know your wants and your needs,
5. Find out your uniqueness through your challenges.
You can try to do the experience and see the people and stories that inspire you. Then, you can pinpoint those five elements in their storylines.
If you want to live a life worth remembering, make sure that you apply those five ingredients to your life book.
One bonus tip is that those five elements can be used to tell great stories worth sharing.
Now you are equipped with the best tools to be the leading character in your own movie.
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You can read my previous article on ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) are dead: Welcome to the new EIC era! (Friendly link)