Live the Story You Want Told


“When you love people and have the desire to make a profound, positive impact upon the world, then you will have accomplished the meaning to live.” — Sasha Azevedo

The decisions we make today will define the stories that get told about us.

By this, I mean, we are all writing a story with our lives. And it is going to be retold. It can’t not be. We are going to talk about it. Our kids are going to talk about it. Our grandkids are going to talk about it. Our friends are going to share memories about it. And the lives we shape are going to share pieces of it.

It is inevitable that our story is going to be told. This is, of course, called legacy.

Ultimately, our story is going to be positive, negative, or a combination of both. But there are no neutral lives being lived. People will talk about the positive impact we left or people will talk about the lasting harm we inflicted. People will talk about our presence or they will talk about our absence. But the story of our life is going to be told.

How then, can we live a story that we want retold? Consider the impact of these intentional actions:

1. Look to other stories. We often speak well of others. After all, there are a number of people who have left a positive imprint on our lives and the stories we tell. Look to those people. Their example can help shape ours along similar lines. What decisions did they make that shaped their story? And what were their underlying reasons for choosing them?

2. Keep an eye on long-term impact. We are so enamored by the here and now that we often forget to consider the long-term impact of our decisions. But sometimes, the pursuit of pleasure in the short-term holds disastrous outcomes for the long-term. We would be wise to consider both. Always.

3. Do the next right thing right. Coach Don Meyer, a family-friend, retired as the all-time wins leader among NCAA basketball coaches. His leadership, both on and off the basketball court, is marked by hard work, encouragement, faith, and service. When Don leads, he calls people to “just do the next right thing right.” Ultimately, the very next decision is the only decision we can make right now. Do the right one.

4. Invest wisely. Every hour of every day, we invest our lives somewhere. Invest it into the makings of a story worth telling. Value relationships, service, and good-will to others. Pursue these with your time, your finances, and your efforts. These investments will always shape the arc of your story towards a positive end. And will result in a better story than chasing money, power, or fame.

5. Get some help. It is nearly impossible to live life effectively on our own. There is nothing wrong or weak about asking for help. In fact, if you are struggling in any area of your life (marriage, parenting, finances, lack of direction, destructive habits), there are people who can help or who can direct you towards help. Find some. Not only does pride lead to a fall, it is also quite unbecoming.

6. Listen, listen, listen. Cherish the input of people who care about you. If there is someone in your life warning you about the choices you are making, listen to them. Take their words to heart. They may be wrong. They may be right. But you’ll never know for sure if you ignore their voice. Make humble listening a priority.

7. Change with one small step. Until life is taken from us, change is possible. And it always starts with just one decision to head in a new direction. If you desire to reshape the story of your life, make at least one small change today. Your first step in the right direction does not have to be a big one.

The stories of our lives are going to be told. This is inevitable. Let’s make the decisions that lead to the story we want told about us.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Great post Joshua. This was a perfect way to start my Monday morning. Every so often I lose sight of my long-term goals/impact. Thank you again for reminding me of the importance of the decisions we make in our lives. Aloha!

  2. says

    “People will talk about the positive impact we left or people will talk about the lasting harm we inflicted.” What a great statement. I am going to remember and live by this always!

    • says

      I second this.

      To me, life is not being rich but making a positive impact. That is one of the reasons I started writing a blog. I hope that people can learn from my mistakes.

  3. says

    In her book “The Gift of Years,” Joan Chittister reminds us that we cannot wait until we are 80-years old to decide what we want to be like when we are 80. I suggest the same approach to our life story…. we cannot wait until our final breath to decide how we want to be remembered, how we want our story told.

  4. says

    Excellent post! I sometimes need to be reminded of living each day so that I have no regrets about it. Not just not doing bad things, but also DOING good things.

  5. Tara says

    I love that photo… it symbolizes the change that is taking place in my life at this moment. Thank you for the lovely image and your words.

  6. says

    Love this post. Pursuing a life that’s worth telling a story about has been one of my main goals for a while now. I think another aspect of living a great story is to truly believe it’s possible. If you believe your story’s going to be average, it will be.

    • says

      I’m totally on board with what you’re saying. Didn’t Joshua’s post have an almost poetic feel to it?
      After sharing this on social media sites, I thought that I often think about my legacy, but don’t do enough to have big actions to build a positive one. It’s time to crank out some work today and this week that will reflect well on me for a long time to come…and be valuable to everyone who comes across it (like this post).

  7. says

    It amazes me how many people DON’T consider their lasting impact. We’re surrounded by people, still in the rat race, still thinking it’s fine to harm others, in order to “get ahead.” Nobody ever speaks, wistfully, about someone who is gone, remembering what level of management they acheived, or how much money they made.

    It’s freeing to be able to think beyond personal achievement, and to consider the larger impact we have on others, and on the world.

  8. says

    Nice post and this happens to be a theme that has been playing out in my life in recent weeks, especially in the story that I am telling my kids in what’s important to me daily. Now, time to get off the computer and read them a story. On a side note, I am being more intentional about the stories that I read to my kids, stories that are “alive”, thought provoking and help them to dream big.

  9. says

    The one point that I have a really hard time with is asking for help. I am told I’m sometimes too independent for my own good. I do not ask for help or advice even when I should have. That is my own fault and something that I’m working on. There is a lot of information that is floating around on the internet and inside your acquaintances’ heads. You can be sure that if you are going through something in your own life, there is someone out there in your circle who has gone through it and has some stories to tell and advice to give. You can benefit from it. Thanks for the post!

  10. says

    I try to begin my days with “what am I putting out there in the world today?” The things we say and do make a difference, even in the smallest of ways sometimes. Along those lines, I’ve always loved the following piece by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

    “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”

    • Barbara Wood says

      I first saw this quote when my brother died in 2001. He lived that quote and had it posted where he could see it regularly. I am glad to be reminded of it. It is a good check up for a mindful life.

  11. says

    I think of others and treating them the way that I want to be treated…I learned the words a long time ago as a child, but honestly didn’t put it into practice until the past few years because it changes for each situation we are in. I want to be listened to, valued, appreciated, needed, loved, remembered, considered, encouraged, inspired. I’m not always great at it – but I try to be kind and be this way for others. Also – It doesn’t always help, and isn’t always wanted, but at least for those negative situations, I am sure I haven’t contributed to continuing the negativity.

    I know the story I want – one of adventure and inspiration!

    I’m here because I am often inspired by your posts :) Thank you.

  12. says

    What a wonderful post to start my morning! “Every hour of every day, we invest our lives somewhere.” This is a powerful truth and I’m really going to pay attention to where I’m investing. (that’ll help me live in the moment too!)

    :) Thanks so much

  13. says

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn.

    This is a really well wreitten article. I’ll make sure to
    bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful information.
    Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

  14. Sandy says

    Love your blogs. Just recently purchased a couple of your Kindle books on Simplicity. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a pack rat. Not a hoarders but someone who places sentimental value on things. I have such a hard time parting with “things”. I am slowly working through my home. I want to be free of the clutter and junk. Great gain is gotten little by little. I am making changes little by little. Thanks for your inspiration.

  15. Carol Tiffin James says

    This reminds me of an experience my husband and I had years ago. He was just starting to seminary in his 40s after years of being an active alcoholic and we were flat broke. The only pants he owned were pairs of jeans. Easter was coming, and at our church there was a wealthy widow. She approached us and said she wanted to buy us some Easter clothes. She gave us her credit card to a nice department store and she encouraged us me to buy a pretty dress and told him to buy “suit, shirt, tie – the works.” We were shocked and overjoyed, and had a special Easter. Fast forward to the widow’s funeral several years later. As we were sitting in the congregation, I told to a lady next to me the story of the Easter clothes. Lo and behold, she had a similar story, and so did the folks in front of us, in back of us – and it was suddenly clear that this woman – without fanfare or attention – had slowly with love and kindness over and over created her legacy. That realization was more of a tribute to her than any eulogy. What a powerful lesson!

  16. Emily says

    Thank you for writing this piece! Such a good and necessary reminder of how fleeting our lives are, and a wake up call to live intentionally. God has used your essays to greatly bless and impact my life!

  17. says

    LOVE THIS! I teach sex education in middle and high schools and this is one of the principles I share with the students that really resonates with them. I also tell them that they are not only writing their story, but they will start the first chapter of their child’s story…because they will determine how the child will enter the world. I ask them if they want their child’s story to start with, “I was born to teen parents. Even though I’m sure they loved me, they were teenagers and barely able to take care of themselves. As a result, I didn’t get the BEST life that I deserved.”? It’s amazing to see the looks on their faces then they realize how much power they have….Btw, you may want to consider adding a FB share button to your articles….They are too good to just “Like”…they need to be “Share”d….

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