Telling ourselves stories

Let me begin by contradicting myself in the two paragraphs which follow. But it’s for a good cause, it’s for your benefit, and so it’s worth it.

  • There is nothing magical about the 1st of January. It’s just a date, and there is nothing tangible that makes it different to any of the other 364 days in the year ahead. So the idea that we should set ourselves new year resolutions at the start of the year, that somehow crossing the 1st of January will ensure that we start achieving more than what we achieved last year, is bordering on ridiculous. It’s just a date, like any other date.
  • That said, if we tell ourself a story that the 1st of January is a special day, that it’s the day on which we start taking on new (good) habits and discarding the old (bad) habits, and if we believe that story, then it makes the 1st of January a very magical day indeed.

And the real magic is this … simply by telling ourselves a story, we can take any day (not just 1 of 365 days in a year, but 1 of tens of thousands of days in your life) and make it the most magical day ever. A story can – and usually is – the turning point from ‘just another day’ to ‘the day where you made everything change for the better’.

Perhaps today is that day?  Yup, today is that day!

Things will start to happen today because you are telling yourself a story that things will start to happen today. Your story provides the magic.

Using stories, to tell ourselves stories

The #HashtagYourLife system is actually very simple. First we tell a story, which is fun, engaging, and memorable. Then we label it, we give it a #hashtag, so we can refer to it and remember it. Then we take the essence of the story and  learn more about how it happens and what it means, and how it is playing out in our lives. Finally, we take some time to ‘try it on’ in our own lives, and work out specifically what actions we need to take, to give this story a happy ending.

You want more out of life, but …

  • Perhaps life doesn’t always make sense, and you’d like to improve your perspective on what’s actually happening around you?
  • Perhaps you feel overwhelmed by the world, and you’d love a way to simplify everything, so that things feels more obvious?
  • And perhaps you know that you don’t always do the right things (or do the right things right), and some guidance on how to respond better to all that life throws at you, would be great?

OK – let’s begin to give you what you want.

The Five Key Stories to smash your goals

As you prepare to turn 2021 into the year that you’ve be waiting for, there are a small number of key lessons you need to take on, remember, and apply. These are the most relevant chapters from #HashtagYourLife, specifically chosen to be the fundamentals of an amazing 2021.

   #1: Be clear about what you want for this year

Without a clear idea of what you want, when you want it, how you will do it, then you will be off to a bad start.

The first story you need to read is #[The red-dot on the wall]. In simple terms, this chapter tell us “Never do anything without having a specific aim in mind”. Take your time to work through the chapter, making sure that its lessons are clear and locked in.

   #2: Don’t make excuses around Covid19

Yeah, 2020 was a terrible year. Stress, illness, death, economic challenges, arguments. Floods, volcanos, fires (although no aliens, as far as I know). And even though that’s all true, your challenges for this year – even while the Covid19 pandemic continues – are battles to be fought in your head. Don’t lose (even before you’ve begun) by allowing Covid19 to be your justification for why you can’t achieve your goals this year. Many people used 2020 as their reason for achieving their goals!

So the second story to read is #[It was never the chicken’s fault] (Deal with the real problems, and let the distractions solve themselves). This is a reminder that ultimately you need to make decisions and take action, regardless of the shit-storm that is happening around you.

   #3: Make it easy to achieve what you want

If you commit to begin working out three times a week, and you wake up next Monday, and you still haven’t signed up at a gym, what are the chances you’ll be working out on Monday? Take that first step as soon as possible! Or if you’ve decided to do the “Couch to 5km” beginner’s jogging program but you still haven’t got any running shoes, it’s easy to delay your start by a day, then another day. So get those shoes ASAP! If you have chosen to start learning Spanish, but you haven’t even decided what app you will use, then it doesn’t really feel like it has got any momentum, right? Choose an app, and start the process.

The third story you therefore need to read, and to use to your benefit, is called #[Hang the guitar on the wall] (How to make it easy to stick to your habits). Determine, for your specific goals that you’ve chosen in #1 above, what your equivalent of “Hang the guitar within reach” is, for the goals you’ve decided upon.

   #4: Don’t get stuck because you can’t decide on something

At this point, you might still be a little stuck locking in decisions – whether in relation to what goals you’re setting for yourself, or how to begin. That’s normal. But it’s also easy to get past that. Which language should you learn? Which brand of running shoes should you buy? Now would be the right time to read #[Chicken or Fish] which explains “What to do when stuck on choices that are really similar”.

   #5: No matter how simple you think this is, it’s simpler

“It’s so hard!” some people are moaning. Yes, there is still a pandemic raging, so work out at home, or go jogging. Yes times are hard, so use a free app like Duolingo to learn the language you want. Yes, you’re really busy these days, so decide what you can do less of to give yourself more time to do the things you really want.

We are so good at making life seem complicated, inventing problems which, if someone challenged us as to why we aren’t doing more, we’d have difficulty explaining ourselves while still sounding believable. So it’s time to read the final story called #[Putting trees in your field]. You can laugh at my dumb thinking as a 9 year old, but just make sure you’re uncovering when it is that you still do the same thing, even at your age now. And get past that.

Choose ‘Results’ over ‘Easy’ (easy but ineffective)

If you had a choice of two versions of this article, which one would you want to engage with?

  • The first version might be really easy to work through, it only takes 5 minutes, but has a really low chance of improving your life
  • The second version, this version, will take more than 5 minutes, and will actually require you to stop for a bit and think. But if you work through the steps, you can turn today into your magical day, and you can set New Year Resolutions for 2021 which are meaningful and doable.

Which version do you choose?

Choose results to be more important than an effort-free fantasy that achieves nothing. And don’t forget to enter your email address in the box below, so you can get support, regular reminders, and announcements when new chapters come out. Let’s do this.

A Tale of Five Tales (TL;DR)

In summary, these are the key steps you want to take:

  • #[The red-dot on the wall] – Have a specific aim for what you want in 2021 and how you will do it – this chapter will take you through the thinking
  • #[It was never the chicken’s fault] – And it’s not Covid19’s fault either – many people used 2020 as a reason to get fit, to lose weight, to write a book, to change direction in their lives – you can do the same in 2021 if you don’t point your finger at the wrong things
  • #[Hang the guitar on the wall] – You’re going to be creating some new habits, and should do everything you can to increase the chances of success … follow the advice in this chapter
  • #[Chicken or Fish] – It’s too easy to procrastinate when you can’t make a final decision on what or how – use the advice in this chapter to smash through that
  • #[Putting trees in your field] – We are amazingly good at over-complicating life and inventing obstacles to action and success – this chapter will help reveal where you’re already doing that, and remind you to stop!

When would now be a great time to change the course of your life? From losing a few pounds, learning a few words of a new language, or taking a completely new direction?

How about … now!