Rewrite your story: Authoring your life

I recently worked through Designing the Life You Love, an interactive journal created by Ayse Birsel.

It walks through her process of deconstructing the many moving pieces of your life in order to reconstruct them in a way that better fits your goals and priorities.

As I strategized with Ayse’s help, I was reminded of when I developed a similar process at the beginning and end of my day—and ended up changing my life.

I was feeling unfulfilled, cranky, and bored at a nonprofit job I had once loved. It was a new feeling, brought on by rubber chicken award dinners and the inevitable transition from fast-moving start-up to large organization with necessary bureaucracy.

So I began a new morning routine. First, I jotted down things I was grateful for. Second, I took out a huge piece of paper, divided it in half, and wrote “OUI” (yes) for the things I did want and “NO” for the things I didn’t. I drew pictures and made lists underneath before heading off to work.

A few of my wants: I wanted to work with energizing people. I wanted to meet in inspiring places and take better advantage of my urban neighborhood. I wanted to choose my clients.

A few things I didn’t want: a long commute, bureaucracy, and evenings spent at award ceremonies.

I’d return to these lists at the end of the day and ask myself how I really felt about the way in which I’d spent the last 12 hours. In general, that answer was: tired and unsatisfied.

I did this exercise for two months, starting in November. I tracked my responses to see if this was just a phase or if it was a larger theme. In January, I told my boss I was leaving. By March, I was enrolled in NYU’s executive and life coaching program.

When I came home the evening I gave my notice, my husband took one look at me and said, “You’re back.” It hadn’t occurred to me that I was missing in a way that was recognizable to him, but I certainly felt a shift. I knew good things were ahead.

Bookending my days this way pushed me to be honest with myself and get clear around my wants. It ultimately led to a gig I’m psyched to call mine.

I take clients through a similar exercise. I ask them to write their old story and their new story—or what they want their new story to be. Then, we talk through what has to happen so that story becomes reality.

We can choose what we want, so shame on us if we don’t.

We only get one shot at life. Own yours.

If you’re looking for clarity around your goals and routines, I’m an executive coach who works with clients nationwide. You can reach me at 614.403.4519

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