If you were able to script your life “perfectly”, what would you write? What values would guide you as you wrote? List them now. Write down 10 core values around which you would set your priorities. They may be religious values or things more commonly called ethics. If you find yourself writing something broad like “family” — be more specific. What kind of family, or what values within family. All sorts of horrible things occur within families – do you include those things in your valuing ‘family’?
Now, out beside or beneath each of those values, write something indicating why you hold that value. Did you learn it, and if so where? Do you consider it ‘natural’ or ‘hardwired’ into who you are?
Good. Now, write down what other thoughts or feelings go along with each of those values. Perhaps you have a story that illustrates the value (or its opposite/absence). Where is the value currently present in your life, and to what effect. Where is it absent, and to what effect?
If you are so inclined, now would be a great time to write a narrative, ‘a day in the life of YOU ‘. Think through how your life would go – script a day, even this day, or yesterday.
You can also write thoughts in different categories of your life: Family, Friendships; Work; Faith; Home; Recreation, etc.
Share your narrative with someone. Actually, this exercise is great for a group of friends or colleagues. Share at each point, or do the work and then come together to share it all at once. Listen (or ask your partners to listen) for what things seem to be missing from the narrative. Does anything stand out as absent from the script that is present today? Think deeply together about the distance between your actual life, and the life you would script – the life you wish you had.
What stands in the way of your having that life? Is it simply a dream world completely disconnected from reality and the laws of the universe? Are there things you wish you could go back and do differently? Will the current course of your life move you closer to or further from the life you wish you had? What is one thing you could do this day/week/month to move closer to the path that will lead you toward that desired narrative? Can you take some action, change a behavior, change an attitude? It needn’t be grand – one small thing is often enough to get some momentum.
What relationships are going to help you move toward your desired narrative? Which relationships need to change? Remember at this point to go back to your list of values. Often at this stage, we begin to think, “If I only got rid of this or that person in my life, everything would be better.” Unfortunately, that very thought process often violates one of our core values, such as “respecting the worth of other people”, or “loving others as I want to be loved.” Take care not to violate your core values out of expediency in your effort to move toward a desired goal. Perhaps the relationship can be transformed, rather than ended, to honor your values and pursue your desired narrative.
Finally, revisit how excited you felt as you dreamed your ‘perfect’ life. Recapture the positive emotions and thoughts that permeated your whole being. How can you pass that on to another person so that they can have a similar experience? What have you learned from this exercise that you can offer to someone else?