The single biggest lesson I’ve learned from quitting alcohol, putting on my running shoes, and remaking my life is this: Everything you think is true about yourself is only true until it’s not.
You’re awkward on camera. You’re too broke to travel. You’re a bad cook. You’re never going to find love. You’re always late. You’re afraid of commitment. You’re addicted to sugar. Until you’re not.
Our lives are made up of stories, and the most powerful stories are the ones we tell about ourselves, to ourselves. If you tell yourself you don’t deserve to be loved, then that becomes true based on the sheer fact that everything you do and say and think makes it true. If you’re telling yourself you can’t change your eating habits because you don’t have enough willpower, then surprise surprise, that’s your reality.
Changing your life comes down to changing your habits, one small step at a time, but the first and most important step is to change your story.
So, that’s exactly what I’m doing. On January 1, I mentioned that I’d be working on a personal project this year – the Change Your Story Project – and I’ve been spending the past few months trying to identify the self-limiting stories I tell myself that hold me back from being who I want to be and doing what I want to do. Then, as I identify each story, I’m working to re-write it and I’m planning an activity I can tackle to get me moving away from the old story and into the new story.
Take photo shoots, for example. I’m constantly telling myself how un-photogenic I am, how bad I look in photos, and how much I hate having them taken. So guess what? I hardly have any pictures of myself and of the ones I do have, there are maybe five that I actually like. My old story is that I’m horrible at having my picture taken, but I want my new story to be that I’m comfortable in front of the camera and can totally rock a photo shoot.
So I’ve scheduled a photo shoot for March 21. But not just any photo shoot – a BOUDOIR photo shoot. You know, like in my fucking UNDERWEAR. Because I mean, is there anything more uncomfortable for someone who hates having her picture taken than spending an hour and a half posing in the almost-nude? Absolutely not. But that’s the point. If I want my new story to be true, I need to do things that someone living that new story would do, and I know that over time, the combination of telling myself this new story and acting like it’s true will make it true.
(Look at me, Mom! Re-writing my story one naked photo shoot at a time, haha.)
But seriously, I know this works because I’ve done it before. Not the underwear-clad photography, no, that’ll be a first – but the idea of actively changing my story. It’s what I did when I quit drinking, when I ran my first marathon, when I quit sugar, when I switched to a plant-based diet, and when I spoke in front of 1,000+ people at World Domination Summit last year to change my story from “I hate public speaking!” to “Holy shit, I can do this!”
The formula works. Identify your old story, write your new story, and then start committing to activities that move you from one to the other. For me, that doesn’t just mean the naked photo shoot, and I’ll be working on this project all year – tackling a different self-limiting story each time. And here’s where you come in, because I want you to join the Change Your Story Project, too. Making a personal change is powerful, but joining up with other people who are making their own changes at the same time is the most powerful of all, and I’d love to get some serious group momentum building as we all change our own stories, together.
So here’s what I want you to do: In the comments, share the old story you’re going to change, as well as anything else you want to tell us about the new story you’re writing and the activity you’re going to commit to to get yourself there. You can grab the badge below to use on your own blog (perfect for sidebars, blog posts, or wherever you like!) and then, as you start to change your story, you can jump back into the comments here and update us on how it’s going. If you need help, ask for help. I’d love to support you! I’d also love to feature a few of you later in the year, and I’ll be giving out some fun prizes for story changers, so definitely keep me up to date on your progress.
Because together, I know that we can prove something incredibly simple, yet incredibly powerful: If we change our stories, we change our lives.
What I’ve done to change my story so far:
Old Story: “I’m so un-photogenic and hate having my picture taken!”
How I Wrote My New Story: 4 Unexpected Life Lessons From My Afternoon as a Boudoir Model
Old Story: “I’m not a real athlete.”
How I Wrote My New Story: Fill In The Blank: I’m Not a “Real” [X]
Upcoming Stories I’ll Be Tackling Soon: “I’m not a good adult.” // “I can’t build a 6-figure business on my own.” // “I can’t figure out how to have a clear personal style.”