what lies do you tell
in the story of yourself
rewrite through action
I used to tell a story that I have trouble finishing things. Like any good storyteller, I had mountains of evidence to support my tale.
The tap shoes languishing in the closet. The golf clubs hanging in the garage. Unfinished photo albums. Half-done projects.
The people closest to me were quick to reinforce the story. Every time I took up a new interest or announced a new idea or intention I’d be met with a chorus of we’ll see how long this lasts.
I’ve never been able to prove it, but at times I have suspected that there were bets placed on how long I’d last before I moved on to the next thing.
This story became fused with my identity. I became the one who doesn’t finish. The one who doesn’t see things through.
I realized that this isn’t a good trait to have in our culture. So when I learned about an online course designed to help people like me finish things, I signed up.
I never even started it.
To be honest, I should have known better than to enroll in a self-paced course. I know that format doesn’t work well for me. But that’s a lesson for another time.
A funny thing happened after I enrolled in that program:
I realized my premise was wrong.
The story I was telling about myself was inaccurate.
It turns out that I do see things through. I do finish things. The right things. The things that matter.
Not everything needs to be finished. Sometimes it’s ok to abandon something.
Tap wasn’t a good fit for me, but I’ve been taking trampoline classes for over a decade. Golf took a back seat when I discovered flying trapeze 18 years ago — and I’m still flying through the air.
I’ve maintained daily exercise and journaling practices for over 8 years, meditation for over 6 years, and a daily blog for over 4. Hardly the evidence to support a contention that I don’t finish things.
I could easily pull out these stats when I want to rewrite the story I tell about myself. But there’s a better way to rewrite the story: by acting out a different one.
The best way to change the story you tell is to change your experience. Don’t just write a new story; live a new story.
So last week I shoveled snow. For 6 days. I didn’t need 6 days. I had cleared enough space to get myself out of the driveway on Day 1. But I continued to shovel because I felt a sense of joy and fulfillment when I looked at the results of my labor.
This experience revealed a new truth: not only do I finish things; the record shows I love to finish things.
The satisfaction I felt will stay with me for a long time, reminding me of this story. And when it eventually fades, I’ll go out to finish something else — just to remind myself of how good it feels to finish.