Who is writing your life story? Many of us go through life on auto-pilot, putting little thought into our purpose, our role, or who we want to become. We passively allow fate to write our life stories. Yet, as author Donald Miller reminds us, “fate is a horrible writer”. In his new book Hero on a Mission, Donald Miller proposes that we can actively write our own stories and by doing so, we can live life with a deep sense of meaning. Are you ready to take the pen and be the hero of your own life story?
Be The Hero
If you are familiar with the StoryBrand Framework, you know that, at least in business and marketing, you are supposed to play the guide. However, when it comes to your own life, you are meant to play the hero.
Our lives are stories. It is our job to create something meaningful within that story. In fact, if you’ve never played the hero, you can’t step into the role of guide. Guides are just heroes who never gave up. So, if you want to be a good guide in your business, you have to make sure you are playing the hero in your own life.
If, up until this point, you’ve been allowing fate to write the story for you, there is good news. Miller reminds us that stories can always be edited and fixed. The first thing you need to do is define what character you’ve been playing.
In screenplays, and in life, there are always four characters:
Hero: The character who faces challenges and transforms to be able to overcome them.
Guide: This character helps the hero succeed.
Victim: The person who believes life just happens to them and that they have no way out of, or control over, the situation.
Villain: The character who exists to make other people feel small.
How to Be the Hero of Your Own Life Story
Although we want to play the hero, more often than not, we allow ourselves to fall into the victim role by passively letting things happen to us, instead of actively choosing to direct our lives. When difficult situations come our way, we tend to shut down or give up, instead of springing into action to overcome the setback.
If you are tired of allowing life to just happen to you and want to adopt a hero mentality instead, you need to implement a few shifts in perspective.
1. Write Your Own Story
First of all, a hero recognizes and takes responsibility for their life and actions. Miller calls this accepting your personal agency in life, or ability to contribute to your own life story.
Although there are certain situations in life that are out of our control, we get to determine how we react to those situations. A hero recognizes that they are in charge of writing their own story and can control the general direction their lives take. Every day, they actively work toward the outcomes they desire instead of passively leaving it all up to fate. Heroes understand that their goals and dreams will not magically appear in front of them. They will have put in the effort to make them happen.
2. Know What you Want
Heroes have to be on a mission toward something. When we struggle to find meaning in life, it is because we aren’t living an engaging adventure. We often distract ourselves with pleasure to pass the time and avoid feeling the emptiness, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
If you are feeling disillusioned with life, it is likely that you are missing out on one of the three elements in Viktor Frankl’s formula to experience a life of meaning:
- Create something or accomplish something.
- Experience something greater than ourselves.
- Accept suffering as a necessary part of life and use it to create meaning.
The world is broken. That is a fact. However, you have the ability to make something beautiful within that broken world. You just have to take the time to define what you want and then start moving toward that desire. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the perfect destination, you just need to head toward something that excites you.
3. Have a Plan
The last thing that heroes do to create a life of meaning, is to back up those desires with hard work. We all know that is easier said than done, but as Miller says, it is just a matter of consistently “putting something on the plot,” showing up each day to move your story forward.
Thankfully, he provides three concrete exercises that readers can use to help them do just that.
Activity 1: Write Your Eulogy
Although it sounds morbid to write your own eulogy, this is an opportunity to reflect on the legacy you hope to leave. This activity carves out space in your life to define what matters most, where you want to spend your time and energy, and what contribution you’d like to leave in the world. The reality is, if we don’t remind ourselves of who we are and who we want to become every single day, we will unintentionally allow distractions, and fate, to get in the way and lead us down a different path.
Miller encourages readers to write their eulogy and then read it aloud every morning as a part of their morning routine. You can easily download a free copy of his daily planner and try out this activity for yourself.
Ultimately, this life narrative should inspire and center you. Don’t be afraid to include dreams that seem far-fetched and uncomfortable. The point of life is not merely to exist, but to make the most of each moment you are given.
Your eulogy also serves as your compass for the decisions you make every day. If you live with the end goal in mind—the legacy you want to leave—then the challenges and decisions you face along the way will take on new meanings and become necessary parts of the journey.
Activity #2: Set Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Although living with the end in mind gives you purpose, you are more likely to stay on the path if you define short-term and long-term goals to keep you motivated. Setting goals helps you lay out concrete steps to progress toward your goal a little each day. Short-term goals keep you focused and help you avoid distractions, while long-term goals pull your daydreams into reality and break them up into achievable steps.
Miller’s daily planner provides a plethora of goal-setting templates. For your long-term goals, the planner includes worksheets to create a ten-year vision, five-year vision, and a one-year vision. For your short-term goals, the planner provides a goal-setting worksheet that encourages you to set a goal and then break it down into smaller steps.
4. Live Out Your Plan
One of the final things heroes do is get things done. They don’t conjure up big dreams and then continue to meander through life, living on auto-pilot, wondering why nothing is changing. They intentionally take steps each day to make their dreams a reality. That means blocking out time to work toward your goal and showing up to get those tasks done, even when it’s hard.
As you may have guessed, Donald Miller’s daily planner has a space for this part too. The planner includes a daily planning sheet where you check off the items in your morning routine (reading your eulogy, vision and goals), outline your primary and secondary tasks, think of all you have to be grateful for and reflect on what you’d do differently. This tool is made to set you up for daily success and put you on the path to being the hero of your own life story.
5. Let Others Be Your Guide
Last but not least, heroes understand that they don’t have to live life alone. They realize that they are not experts in everything and that there is always more to learn. Therefore, they gladly accept help and learn from the guides they meet along the journey of life. They know that guides can save them from big mistakes and help them move forward faster.
Are You Ready to Be the Hero of Your Life Story?
We all have the power to be the hero of our own life stories. To do this, we need to take responsibility to write those stories. Instead of living thoughtlessly, meandering through your days, you can devote your time and energy to something bigger than yourself, define what you hope to achieve, and then work to make it happen.
How will you become the hero of your own life story? If you want to learn more, read Hero on a Mission by Donald Miller. If you put these tips into action, you will never let fate be the sole writer of your life story again.
If one of your goals is to run a successful business, we’d love to be your guide. Contact us today to speak with one of our Certified StoryBrand Guides about creating marketing materials that will help grow your business dreams into a reality.