One of my unexpected highlights of 2020 was that I read more great books than I’ve ever read. This was mostly luck; I’ve always been passionate about books and aim to read 15-30 books per year, but this year, I got lucky in that almost every book I read exceeded my expectations (my 2020 reading list is below).
Perhaps my favorite was, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. Miller is a New York Times best-selling author and was approached about filming a movie centered around his life. As Miller started working with the filmmakers, they continually challenged him to edit the script to make the story more interesting; to make the story better. As he edits his own life, Miller has an epiphany and realizes he is the author of the story of his life and instead of editing, perhaps he should start focusing on writing a better story going forward.
Miller’s motif: We are writing the story of our lives and we have the ability to write a better story. After reading this book, I now use the theme of writing a better story as a framing question for my annual goal setting.
This begs the question, what makes for a good story? What compels us to continue reading or watching? It starts with an inciting incident.
Miller states, “Without an inciting incident that disrupts their comfort, they (the character) won’t enter into a story. They have to get fired from their job or be forced to sign up for a marathon. A ring has to be purchased. A home has to be sold. The character has to jump into the story, into the discomfort and the fear, otherwise the story will never happen.” Perhaps in the story of our lives (in which, each of us is the main character), the COVID-19 Pandemic is that inciting event. We’ve been pulled into a story.
According to Miller, the next key element of any great story is that the character needs to experience conflict; they need to be pushed to the brink and brought to their knees. For so many, the events of 2020 did just that. Miller states, “The whole point of the story is the character arc. You didn’t think joy could change a person did you? Joy is what we feel when the conflict is over. But it’s conflict that changes the person.” Conflict is what changes the person.
“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if story is just condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another.”
As you sit down and contemplate writing your personal and professional goals for 2021, I encourage you to frame up the whole process with the inspiration of writing a better story.
Quick Tips for writing your 2021 Health/Fitness Goals:
1. Include process goals. A process is akin to an action or a behavior, and behaviors almost always precede outcomes. A process goal might include:
· I will strength train 75 times in 2021 (an average of 1.5 workouts per week).
· I will perform one, high intensity interval workout per week.
· I will perform a Bod Pod test every month (this was one of my 2018, 2019, 2020 goals and it will be a 2021 goal as well).
· Perform a full-day fast, once per month, every month of the year (I completed this process goal in 2020… and I won’t be including it in 2021J).
2. Include outcome goals. Examples might include:
· PR (personal record) in a 5k, half marathon, or marathon.
· Achieve a Bod Pod assessment of sub 25% (or whatever percentage makes sense for you).
· Perform one, body weight chin-up with perfect form.
Of course, process goals and outcome goals can be utilized in every facet of your life.
Bonus: My 2020 Reading List.
1. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years – Donald Miller
2. The Soul of Money – Lynne Twist
3. Leadership in War – Andrew Roberts
4. Marketing Made Simple – Donald Miller
5. Ignore Your Customers (and they’ll go away) – Micah Solomon
6. Love is Just Damn Good Business – Steve Farber
7. Your World-Class Assistant – Michael Hyatt
8. The One Minute Workout – Martin Gibala
9. White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo
10. The Infinite Game – Simon Sinek
11. Fanocracy – David Meerman Scott
12. What You Do is Who Your Are – Ben Horowitz
13. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
14. The Motive – Patrick Lencioni
15. The Power of Moments – Chip and Dan Heath
16. The Ride of a Lifetime – Robert Iger
17. Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
18. Option B – Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
19. How to Lead – David Rubenstein
20. Change Maker – John Berardi
21. Anything You Want – Derek Sivors
22. Talk Triggers – Jay Baer