Tell a story and make it come true, or be a big fat liar.

No, not like spinning a yarn about a princess in a far away tower.  I mean when you discuss future events, do so with the authority and control to make them happen.

And, to clarify further, I’m not (yet) talking about telling someone that in “five years I will be the sausage king of Chicago.”  I’m talking about the fact that you said you’d get up early tomorrow.  Or that you wouldn’t fall asleep in front of the TV again tonight, or that you would try to help a little more with the dishes so your spouse doesn’t just ‘end up doing them.’

Or, that you were going to take a yoga class real soon, or make time for your special project.

The Balance Sheet

Of course having a pretty, colorful and simple sheet you can fill out makes it so much easier to see that you are doing this, or even why you’re doing this.  That’s why I created the Balance Sheet.  It’s a web page that acts like a map to what you are spending your time, energy and resources on.  it’s not overly complex – just enough info to see your sliding puzzle.

 

So what’s the big deal about telling a story?  And how does this relate to the balance sheet?  So glad you asked…

We all talk about what we are doing, what we’ve done, and what we are going to do.  Everyone does this in some capacity.  For some people they cannot help but drone on and on about their past exploits – which always seem to be much more glorious in past tense.  You know someone like that, right?  He talks about an altercation or discussion, and he sounds like he was a superhero, with snappy comebacks and no fallout for his actions.  You hear it and you’re like, “Um, no Doug – that’s not exactly right.”

But that’s the past.  Let’s talk about the future.  We also know people who like to talk about grand schemes.  They have some pretty amazing plans for their future, and whatever it is that they are doing it’s just far enough in the future that there doesn’t seem to be any actions needed right now.  Right?  So they have the time to have a beer and tell you these great plans again.  Or they may end it with ‘probably’ as reality kicks in.  You know, “I’m going to move to somewhere better in a few years… probably.”  That’s when all the steps associated kick in – fixing up the house, putting it on the market, the time involved in selling, choosing a new home, flying out to scope out new places, cities and states.   Yeah.  Ugh.  Probably.

Why is this important?  Because both of these people are telling stories that aren’t really true.  In the first instance they are embellishing to match what they would have liked to have happen.  In the second case they are embellishing their story to what they would like to happen.    Other than the tense involved (past vs. future) it’s really the same thing.

I’m not targeting people who like to spin a good yarn, or talk happoily over a beer about their exciting plans.  Nothing wrong with that – it’s sorta fun.  The problem arises when that’s part of the way you manage your time, energy and resources.

If you don’t handle things the way you wanted to (in 100% your personal opinion, not mine or anyone else’s) and then talk about it like you did you are doing yourself a great disservice.  Not impactful enough?  Ok, then if you don’t handle things the way you wanted to, and then you look back on it like you did then you’re a big fat liar.  Better?  Rude?  Accurate?  Why can’t it be both.

Remember, the scariest person in your life to live up to and let down is you.  “Nah, I don’t give a crap, I’m laid back and easy going.”  Uh huh.  However calm and ‘laid back’ you think you are, it is a conflict you create in your brain, and that’s not cool, not good and not healthy.

Before you panic about having maybe embellished a little, or freak out and push back over the fact that you enjoy having a beer or a drink  and just bullshit about your future, relax.  As long as you know what you’re doing, and haven’t built a giant denial time capsule around yourself you’re fine.  Talking crap with friends and commiserating is one thing.  Storytelling is another.

So what is storytelling, and what’s the difference?

Storytelling is what you tell you.  It’s the way you phrase things to re-input it back into your brain.  There’s a whole science around this, and if by ‘science’ I mean I’m writing a book about this concept, but it has three other books in front of it so don’t hold your breath.

It impacts the way you feel and the way you remember things when you tell it to yourself.  Have you ever had something pretty great suprising or amazing happen to you, and the minute you were alone you either looked in the mirror or just said to yourself “OK, that ws pretty cool.”   Or something bad happens, and again you’re alone and say “That was pretty crappy.”  Or you or on a job interview or sales call, and you say to you “You can do this!”

Yes, those are all examples of affirmations, but they are also explanations.  It’s common for those to be longer, where you talk out what happened as you make sense of it.

This is the part where you filter, deny or just explain and admit.  Starting to make sense and sound familiar?  Have you ever tried to convince yourself that what just happened was better or worse than it actually was?  Or even explain it away?  Then you’re filtering and denying.   A positive spin is fine; seeing the bright side is good, but changing reality so that you don’t have to deal with it is unhelpful – and damaging to your future actions.

So, think about the difference between when you are just trying to keep things straight, and when you are explaining things to yourself, and I’ll see you for Part 2.

About Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford developed a system to recover time, energy and resources in your life called Alchemy For Life. He writes, coaches and speaks on the subject. For more information, tips and tricks, like Alchemy For Life on Facebook, follow Alchemy For Life on Twitter. Articles are posted regularly on AlchemyFor.Life, and LinkedIn.