Creating a story to guide you

I’ve recently taken a class with Rob Young called Creating a Plan that Works (CAPTW) (Watch his site for information on the next round – it’s worth it!).  Step by step, Rob walks you through a process to define the project you want to work on.  Every aspect of the project – why this project, how it plays in to your ultimate goals and motivations, who you can turn to, how you’ll prioritize the project versus other parts of your life, etc.  There’s a LOT there, but it’s worthwhile because in the end, you should have a pretty solid plan and be pretty psyched to get started.  When you do start the project, your plan serves as a guide – you have a timeline with milestones all building to your goal and you’ve already considered most objections/ obstacles and how you will deal with them.  My project has I been to get into a writing habit – producing the content that was on the roadmap for the year but was not happening for several bad reasons.

One of those reasons is that my health troubles have come back and just months after the ablation that righted things, I had another last week.  The procedure was long and tough, but the doctors were fairly confident they’d solved the biggest problems.  Of course, I was showing oddness on the monitor as I was held overnight for observation – so we’re cautiously optimistic right now and will verify in a few months.

It’s easy to be frustrated.  It’s easy to rail at lousy luck and despair of ever getting back into shape and returning to a body image that I still hold in my head for myself.  To envision a life of limited movement and infrequent social activities due to the illness and be mad.

But I’m the one laying out this plan.  As I tell the story of what is happening to me, it is in my power to shape and mold – to foresee obstacles and their solutions, to map how things will progress.  I am designing this story as carefully as the novel now in the works and as meticulously as my CAPTW project.  I tell my story in each tweet, each Facebook post, each email.  And I don’t want to focus on the negative.  I am not going to despair or show frustration because at this moment, even still sore from the procedure, I choose to believe myself on a path to health.  I am marveling at the skill and care shown by the whole team.  I am planning the adventure ahead.

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If symptoms return, there will likely be some issues.  I may loose control of the story.  But every adventure has pitfalls and moments of crisis.  Every book has conflict.  I can envision the adventure ahead, the victory won.  I can revel in the wonder of what’s around me, even while trying to figure out what the next fix (if needed) will be.

The Norsemen of the Viking Age (780-1070) believed that their stories were already written.  That their fates were already laid out for them.  Even though they could not control the end of their tale – they made sure to give it spice along the way.  As one scholar put it “humanity is born to trouble, but courage, adventure, and the wonders of life are matters for thankfulness, to be enjoyed while life is still granted to us.” (H.R. Ellis Davidson quoted in The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland)  I like that approach.

It also brings to mind Tiffany Staropoli – a friend I met through TEDxRochester – when diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, she took control of her story and dealt with it her way – not as a fight, but with dancing and love.

How can you shape your story to guide you forward?  If you were creating your story plan, what  would your goal for it be?

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