If your life right now had a theme song, what would it be? Rocky? Star wars? Great Gatsby? Mine would be “this is the song that never ends” from that awful kid’s show Lambchop. If you don’t know what I am talking about, do yourself a favor and DO NOT GOOGLE IT. It legit never ends and is sung by a whiny lamb puppet.
Over and over and over.
Some of you may have more tragic theme songs right now, ones of heartache and despair, of uncertainty or inadequacy. It may be tough to think about the future because the present is grim and the story that you see for your future is difficult. Maybe your theme song is really somber and you don’t have energy to think about it at all (which of course isn’t exactly inspiring)
But what if you were one John Williams theme song away from an awesome comeback story? What if instead of worrying how we are going to get through this current reality we gear up to be the underdog-turned-hero?
What is the current trajectory of your story? Have you actually spent anytime purposefully thinking about it? Or, more importantly,
Can you switch it?
Can you put yourself into the mindset that you had as a kid, ready to be the one who kicked the winning goal and saved the game, or was magically discovered by talent agents to star in your own Broadway show?
Here’s the thing, we all know that the brain is feverishly working on the next 5 chapters of our story whether we want it to or not. Sometimes my story looks like the twist-a-plot books that I loved in 4th grade. Just as some crisis came up in the story I had to pick which path to take:
If you follow the path through the gate, turn to page 32.
If you stay with your nose to the grindstone and don’t pick a new path at all, turn to page 8.
If you leap off the path and start running at breakneck speed, turn to page 100.”
The problem with this approach to plotting your life is that it keeps you guessing, you can’t prepare to be the hero because you aren’t sure what that even means. It keeps you reacting instead of planning and your brain remains on high alert for danger; not exactly the environment of growth we are going for.
I propose reframing your current reality into the launching off point for the comeback story of all comeback stories, your future.
We all love a good comeback story. You know the ones that suck you in on social media: the Vietnam vet who is wheelchair bound but starts yoga and now does triathlons; Bethany Hamilton, the 13 year old surfer who returned to the sport even after losing an arm to a shark attack; J.K.Rowling, single mom on welfare turned best selling author gazillionaire.
What if now is the beginning of your comeback?
How can you deal with your inner critic that is heckling you right now, saying this is all rainbows and daisies? How can you shush the chatting audience (aka your brain), start the play and cue the music?
Step 1: Get a pen and paper.
You’re going to want to write this down. THIS IS YOUR COMEBACK STORY- not some mental “to do” list. You’re going to want to refer back, to clarify your ideas, set the groundwork and see what your current story actually is.
Step 2: Start writing.
Take the aforementioned pen and paper and write down your current story, the one that has all the reasons why a comeback can’t or won’t happen, all the reasons it won’t work. It doesn’t have to be a novel, a quick list of naysaying ideas is all you need.
Step 3: Employ the simple technique that can change everything.
The open ended question…...
(this is where I picture the violins starting to frantically play, the anticipation building)
Take the sentences you wrote down, the ones that start with “I can’t” or “it will never” and switch them out with a “how can I…?”
Here’s some examples
“I can’t eat right/exercise/start a side hussle/get organized etc. because I spend all my time taking care of everything else” changes to “How can I eat right etc. and take care of everything else?”
“I can’t leave this job and start all over” changes to “ How can I leave this job and start all over?”
“I don’t have enough time” changes to “How can I have enough time?”
“I will never get a vacation house” changes to “How can I get a vacation house?” (that one deserves the whole thing to be underlined)
What’s the point, you ask?
The point is, your brain doesn’t like open circuits. As soon as it sees one, it starts solving for it; looking for evidence and solutions to close the loop. Just by changing the thought to a question,
the brain takes on the job of reframing overwhelm and “stuckness” into a puzzle to be solved…
It gives you the practical steps towards your comeback. Really feeling motivated? Add step 4.
Step 4: Answer your own questions.
Here’s your chance to embrace your inner visionary. Take a minute and brainstorm 5 answers to each question. The answers don’t have to be realistic, just get your brain thinking outside of its current pattern. Maybe an outlandish idea can give rise to something that you can latch onto now, a first step, a new path.
The plot begins.
The underdog sees a glimmer of hope.
The music changes tone and you know something great is about to happen.
Step 5: The paradox of the resolution being anticipation.
This is the fun part, the part that can make your life better today (by the time you put your pen down- if you followed step one and actually got a pen.)
Anticipation feels so much better than overwhelm. Take a moment and imagine anticipation. Feel how it feels in your body (no, really, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and imagine feeling anticipation).
Great news… we can create anticipation for ourselves without too much trouble. All we need to do is to reframe the future into something good, something that maybe gives meaning to the current struggle, something that we can see ourselves thriving in.
Maybe my future doesn’t involve me being a hero (or a Broadway star), but I know I will show up 100x better and more motivated with the thought that it could.
Maybe I will write my memoir from the porch of my vacation house.
Post a comment below and let me know what your future holds.