It was December 31st, 2012, New Year's Eve. In lieu of going out, my husband and I put the kids to bed, made dinner, opened a bottle of red and, determined to make 2013 profoundly better than 2012, sat at the dining room table and systematically tore apart our year. What worked, what didn't, and what was holding us back.
The process forced us to revisit an old financial wound that was still hemorrhaging money -- a condo we owned that was upside-down by at least a quarter of a million dollars. This condo (a four-letter-word in our world) had been a permanent asterisk to all our resolution-making -- until that night New Year's Eve when we shifted from resolution-making to better storytelling.
If you have struggled to make year over year progress, forget the resolutions this New Year's and instead focus on the stories you tell yourself that might be holding you back. Here is a systematic approach to transforming your year one story at a time.
First, identify the stories you tell yourself.
Carefully examine the most pillars of your life; your physical well being, the health of your family and your relationships, your business, your finances, your spiritual well-being or whatever is most important to your definition of success. Then, for each category, is there something holding you back? For my family, it was the condo and the thousands of unnecessary dollars we were losing each month.
Second, challenge the story.
The truth is, you are a great storyteller. You weave compelling, intricate, persuasive stories that you tell yourself. As a result of your story prowess, the stories become so ingrained, so automatic they don't sound like stories anymore, they sound like fact. Once you identify possible story culprits, challenge it. Ask yourself, what if this fact is actually just a story after all?
That New Year's Eve, we challenged the $250,000 condo debacle and asked ourselves if perhaps we were telling ourselves a bad story.
Third, change the story.
Once you reveal an old story for what it truly is, the next step is to change it. Easier said than done? Perhaps. But there are two strategies that work best to rewrite the stories that aren't serving you.
The first, is to find a replacement story. Once you challenge the story you've adopted, seek out a version of the story that you like. Look to people you admire who have faced similar circumstances; what's their story? For example, after having my first child and being nervous about losing the baby weight, I went to my mom-friends at the spin studio where I worked out (who all looked amazing) and asked for their stories so I could use them as an outline for my own.
The other option for rewriting it is to just scribble out what's there and start writing something new in its place. This is what we did in the case of the condo story. We decided we weren't doomed by the condo and immediately got to work creating a new story. With a little savings-maneuvering, a little good luck with falling interest rates and a little increase in the rent we were charging, by the end of the year, we were break even.
I hope your 2018 New Year was as happy as ours was that year.