A year ago, before I moved to Orange County, I told my employers in Oregon that I was moving because I’d won a writing competition at Chapman University and was going back to school to work with a professor on my novels. The truth was I hadn’t actually won the competition yet. I’d only entered. But I believed that what I’d written was good enough to get me accepted and more importantly, I WANTED that to be the way my life unfolded. So I made the move BEFORE I knew the results, which helped me believe my story. And THE DAY I ARRIVED I found out I’d gotten in.
This sort of thing happens all the time when I tell GOOD STORIES about my life and then take action. Some of you might remember my post on the serendipitous story of how I landed my house on Balboa Island. I talked about how I wanted to live on an island for months before flying to OC on a whim and somehow getting a cottage on Balboa for half off the rental asking price! Years ago, when I wanted to travel in Europe but had no idea how to afford it, I just lined up with the desire to go on a trip, talked about the trip obsessively and began planning it AS IF I was going on it, and within two weeks had four job opportunities for remote positions that I could do abroad—none of which I’d even applied for.
This year, I realized I needed to change the story I was telling about my writing career. My whole life I’d been saying I was an aspiring author. And my writing reflected this. “You’re close,” my editor kept telling me. “But something is missing from your stories.”
Instead of joining more writing groups and continuing to act like an aspiring author, I hired a videographer to help me create cinematic trailers for my novels and in this process I started to believe I was a successful author. This became my NEW STORY and overnight I knew how to fix one of my books. When I resubmitted it to my editor a few weeks later she called me right away and said, “How did you do this? What changed?”
I didn’t change the story in my book. I just changed the story of MY LIFE and my book changed.
The story we tell about our lives MATTERS. In fact, I believe this story is the most important story ever. Our subconscious mind learns the narratives we rehearse and believes them—whether they’re true or not.
Jim Carey speaks to this all the time. He tells a story of how he used to drive to Mulholland Drive every night when he was poor and broke and visualize himself talking with directors and being a famous actor. This changed the way he felt about himself and his life. “I would drive home and think I do have these things,” he said. “They’re out there. I don’t have a hold of them yet. But they’re out there.” And look at Jim Carey’s life now.
Before Oprah’s big break she became obsessed “literally obsessed!” she said, with the book, The Color Purple. That was all she talked about and thought about. Her life story became intertwined with this story. After a few months she received a call from a casting director—for the first time ever—to come to an audition and guess what the audition was for: a role in The Color Purple. This jumpstarted her career and changed the course of her entire life.
I don’t always tell a good story about my life. I’m as guilty as the next person of questioning myself, getting in my own head and wondering, what if I’m really NOT a good writer or a good fitness instructor or a good this or a good that? In fact, there are plenty of days that I don’t write well and I have off days when teaching classes. But the mind does not like to question what’s presented to it. It doesn’t like to challenge stories. And neither do other people. So when we have bad days, it’s not a big deal, as long as we don’t let “I’m someone who always has bad days,” become part of our life story.
We tend to think of stories as things we tell in retrospect. “Remember that time when…” Or, “You won’t believe this thing that happened….” But the art of using our imagination to tell stories about ourselves and what’s to come in our lives is the key to shifting how our lives look.
I have one friend who I get together with a few times a week. Instead of catching up, we talk about WHAT’S COMING. This past year I’ve been really inspired by Reese Witherspoon. I’ve talked about her in several posts. She’s doing such great things for women in the book and movie industry and when this particular friend and I meet up, I’ve started saying, “Gosh, how fun would it be to be friends with Reese Witherspoon! To get to meet up with her for coffee and talk about books and life and ambition!” Who knows, one day this might be my reality. Meanwhile, I’ll keep supporting one of my favorite female entrepreneurs and actresses. The cute tote in this post is from her clothing line, Draper James. Shop it below and carry it around as a reminder to tell yourself somethin’ good!