You are the protagonist of your own story. You star in the movie and also write the script. Why wouldn’t you choose to make it a heartwarming satisfying story of triumph? For 2022, that’s just what we’re going to do. Here’s how:
Choose a Theme
Every great film has a theme, a message explored through the events and actions of the story. If you want your film or life to be a success, try choosing a theme for the year that informs your choices on a weekly, daily, or even momentary basis.
For example, my husband and I recently saw American Underdog, the story of an aspiring football player who many believed was past his prime but kept working and pushing until he made it into the NFL. If I were scripting my underdog story, I’d choose “Persistence Pays Off” or “Never Give Up” as my theme.
A few other great yearly themes to choose from:
“My Best is Good Enough”
“Change is Possible—One Choice at a Time”
“Success Goes Where Energy Flows”
Choose a theme for the year. Write it, stamp it, crochet it, post it. Keep it visible so you can focus on your theme every day for the next twelve months, every time you make a choice. Should I work out this morning or hit the snooze button? Persistence Pays Off. Okay. Okay. I’m up. I’ve got this.
Plot for Personal Growth
All great characters change for the better over the course of their stories. Your script for 2022 should include an upward path to a better you. But how do you plot this when you have so little control over the people and events in your life?
It’s true—you can’t control other people or many of the events that happen around you. But you can control how you react to them. The best stories of personal growth are driven by personal hardship. So, expect some things to go wrong in 2022. Plan for it. And plan how you will react.
When things go wrong, or even when they go right, ask yourself what you should do to grow, rather than be crushed by the experience. It helps to picture how this would play out on the big screen. When the protagonist in your favorite movie hits a bump in the road, would you rather see her rally, learn, and carry on or give up and make a permanent home on the couch, scrolling Instagram and crying?
Choose Your Cast of Characters
As the writer of your story, you get to choose which characters play a starring role. Look at the people taking up the most screen time in your life and ask yourself why they have such a prominent role.
I periodically speak to a dear friend I haven’t seen in ages, and we lament that we never spend time together. We’re too busy. Our lives don’t naturally intersect. We wish we had more time. Truthfully, we’re simply lazy. We spend our time with the people who happen to be in front of us at any given moment, rather than choosing our friends.
Make a list of people you love, people who make you better, happier, the best version of yourself. Don’t choose your cast of characters by default.
In 2022, make spending time with your favorite people a priority.
Write Great Dialogue
Get control of your spoken words this year. We often say things we don’t mean or say things we mean in ways that hurt others or ourselves. With a little thought and planning, we can choose our words more carefully and write dialogue that improves our lives and the lives of those around us.
Have you ever walked away from a conversation and wished for a do-over? I have. Frequently. My words can be my greatest strength or my greatest weakness, depending on how I use them.
Make a list of situations where your words get you in trouble. What do you wish you could change? How would you speak differently next time?
For example, I often say things I wish I hadn’t when I notice my kids doing something I think could harm them. Someone is playing video games for hours or hasn’t showered recently enough. I worry they will have negative consequences for their behavior, so I jump in to tell them what they’re doing wrong and how I expect them to fix it. Often my words come out as harsh, shaming, and overly critical.
Instead of harsh criticism, I can start with loving words. I can ask the child what their plans are for the day or when they plan to shower. I can lead them toward change by engaging them to think about what they’re doing, rather than living on autopilot.
I can choose my tone and infuse the conversation with love and respect, rather than anger or frustration. I can even write myself a script for these common situations to stay prepared.
Mindfully write your own dialogue, even if that means taking a breath and thinking before you speak. You don’t always have to improv.
Construct a Reset Button
If you’ve ever wished your life had a reset button, I’ve got good news for you—it CAN! You just need to create it. Now, the reset button doesn’t involve time travel, McFly, and it can’t remove the consequences of your actions. But it can let you start over in this moment and in the next.
Constructing a reset button in your life requires the determination not to let your future choices be determined by your past. Maybe yesterday I overshared at book club. That doesn’t mean I’m an oversharer for life. Not if I hit my reset button. In the next conversation, in the next minute, I can choose to be a good listener and keep some of the more intimate details of my life private.
The most dangerous road your protagonist can take is the road that feels inevitable, a product of all her poor choices making her a poor excuse for a human being. The most disruptive truth confirms that we choose our own path. We write our own story.
Convert your next stumble into a pivot point where you refocus on your theme, refine your cast of characters, decide how to grow from the experience, write your best dialogue, and reset whenever needed.
Here’s wishing you your best story yet in 2022. Get writing!
Kathryn Thompson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home mom who lives outside Seattle with her computer-genius husband and three frequently delightful kids. Her blog DaringYoungMom.com has been featured everywhere from The Today Show to the Seattle Times and she was a founding blogger at The Parenting Post, an award-winning blog run by Parenting Magazine.