Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Chris Wehkamp of Parents Who.
New Year’s Day has come and gone. The toasts have been raised and the resolutions have been made. Another fresh batch of 30 dozen opportunities now stretch out before us.
But let’s fast-forward past all the days of 2015. Let’s imagine tonight is December 31st, 2015, the last night of the year.
The ball hasn’t dropped quite yet, but there’s a break in the revelry around you. The music and laughter of the party grows quiet, the celebration momentarily dies down.
In this moment of peace, your mind reflects on the events of your life during 2015. You relive your proudest success, your most embarrassing misstep, and everything in-between.
You pore through the year in your mind—like flipping through the familiar pages of a much-thumbed book.
Now you are back in the present.
Answer this question: Who wrote that book?
1. You Are The Protagonist
Humans tell stories to make sense of our world, to create meaning for ourselves, and to provide inspiration for others.
Being the protagonist in your own story is about accepting the role of “good guy.”
You are the one in 2015 who will make the conscious choice to drink one less soda per day, finish one great book per month, or buy one less object per week.
One of the greatest virtues that a website like Becoming Minimalist provides for me and my family is the steadfast reminder that the meaning we ascribe to our stuff, our clutter, and the objects in our lives is created by us alone.
That reminder returns the power to us, where it has always been. It removes our illusions. It calls us to shape that meaning in a way that is best for us, our families, and our world.
It reminds us that in the screenplay of our lives, we decide what all these props will mean.
You are the hero who gets to decide which triumphs you will aspire and work towards for yourself and your family in 2015.
2. You Are The Villain
Since 1962, Spider-Man has taught the world “with great power comes great responsibility.”
Through his arrogance and apathy, Peter Parker allowed a chain of events to unfold which resulted in the death of his beloved uncle Ben.
You are, always and forever, your worst enemy.
I am reminded of this in my own life all too often.
As my wife Sarah and I strive each week to create original children’s audio stories to improve the quality time of families around the world, we encounter our fair share of obstacles.
These obstacles often appear disguised as important meetings, fun social events, family obligations, fears, or worries.
They seem to come into our lives from the outside. But that is just an illusion. These obstacles originate from within.
When we don’t accept the responsibility of the power we wield over our own lives, when we give that power away to distraction or clutter or fear, we are the Villain.
You are the one who will trip yourself in 2015, the one who will make rationalizations, the one who will listen to the soft, familiar voice of fear.
3. You Are The Author
We are creatures built to search for meaning. When we don’t find it, our hearts and our minds invent it automatically.
What 2015 will mean to you will ultimately come down to the kind of story you tell yourself each and every day.
The exciting news is that you always have a choice.
You can choose to turn off the printing press and rewrite your story with intention. (tweet that)
2015 offers 365 new opportunities (delivered one after another) to make little changes that add up to big differences.
We can choose to write the stories of our lives in 2015 to be filled with mindfulness, gratitude, and abundant love for each other and our world.
We can choose to write the stories of our families to be full of kindness and laughter; resiliency and authenticity; healing and hope.
We can choose to write the stories of our personal spiritual journeys to be guided by faith and forgiveness; wisdom and understanding.
We are the defenders and the scoundrels and the authors of our own story. It’s up to you and me to make 2015 a story worth reading.
Chris Wehkamp is the cofounder of Parents Who with his wife Sarah. Together, they seek to enhance the precious time you spend with your family each day.
Natalie Redman says
Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before but after reading through some of
the post I realized it’s new to me. Anyways,
I’m definitely delighted I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking back often!
Really best words. Thank for every one for your comments
Great points, it seems as though the most unhappy and frustrated people think that their life is controlling them. I like the idea that we “choose our story”, not the opposite!
I am SO glad that you were a guest blogger for Becoming Minimalist! This is written simply enough to read on the quick and profound at the same time. My hope is to carry this message throughout the year with me, remembering that I am the writer of my book!
Keep it up; love it!
Chris Wehkamp says
Christina, thank you so much for the positive feedback!
Tobias (KLAFATOA) says
I like how you draw a connection between proactivity and minimalism. Taking responsibility automatically leads to a reduction of stuff, people and activities that don’t belong in your life. Making a choice always means to pick one option and drop the other. Messy people are often overwhelmed because they can’t decide what’s most important to them. So they take a bit of everything instead of launching into the good life
Keep it up!
Chris Wehkamp says
What a great point of view, Tobias. And you’re right, prioritization has been key for me and for my family to get to the stuff that really matters.
Thank you for the inspiration to write my own story.
I will do.
Christina @ Embracing Simple says
What a great reminder that it’s NEVER too late to rewrite our stories and make a change!
Daisy @ Simplicity Relished says
I love this article! I do think it takes a great amount of self-awareness to understand the type of control we have over our own lives. It’s so easy to feel controlled by other things– but ultimately we find that we’re making the choice to be controlled as well. One thing I’m always telling myself is “I didn’t get the chance to do xyz”… but really, I somehow chose not to do it. Thanks for writing this! Here’s to a fabulous 2015.
Chris Wehkamp says
Thanks Daisy, I hope your 2015 is fabulous too! What you are describing sounds like opportunity cost.
Thanks for the post! I totally agree with you about writing your own story. So many people are waiting to be rescued from their story (I used to be one of them). I refuse to be that person anymore. I say to myself, I’m responsible for everything that is happening in my life (everything!). That gives me a sense of power that I have never felt before.
Not only are people waiting to be rescued, but they blame everyone else. Especially by making others the villain. BE THE HERO in your story, love & forgive yourself, and be kind to others. So simple… Thank you for the great perspective!!
Chris Wehkamp says
Colette, the real work for me can be in the forgiving myself sometimes when I am the Villain more than I feel I should be and picking myself back up to try my best again.
But once I do, I always feel better :)
That’s one of many advantages of writing articles like these. They are reminders of what our thought process is and how we can improve. That also seems to be one of the advantages of using a journal, something I still have not made time for!
Chris Wehkamp says
Good point on journaling, Andrew. I have found it more manageable for myself to keep a journal in Evernote.
I have tried paper and pen journals in the past but have had trouble when trying to locate something specific.
Now when I need to recall exactly what we did at our children’s birthday party 2 years ago, it’s a mouse click and a search away.
Brian Hermelijn says
I’m really, but really grateful for you, sharing this wonderful article with us, sharing this idea, the insight. Is just outstanding. Thank You. And I hope, it also inspire someone else, to create their own life, their story, their character.
Tonya@Budget and the Beach says
I like how you mention that we are the villain just as much as the protagonist and author. It’s because of fear, doubt, and other negative emotions that we often don’t accomplish what we really want to. I’m really working on that this year!
Ultimately, God is the author and finisher of our lives.
“2015 offers 365 new opportunities (delivered one after another) to make little changes that add up to big differences.” I like that! :)
Thank you Chris for this thought provoking guest post.
Even if things out of our control happen—we still the “pen-in-hand” as to how we react to it.
Yes—lets all make our 2015 the best chapter ever. :)
Chris Wehkamp says
Your very welcome, Judy! A big focus for me in 2015 is to be more “pen-in-hand” with the way that I react and respond to my kids. Practicing mindfulness often means the difference for me between saying/doing things I regret or being the best Dad I can be.
Great reads! I love the exercise of fast-forwarding into the future and take a look at the year just finished. Gives us fuel to live with intention and presence. Have a beautiful year!
LL in Prescott says
You had me at the title. It’s YOUR life – YOU write the story. Great bumper sticker!
Same here :) This is also a really good theme to begin 2015 with. Very empowering, love it!
Great article – thank you!