It isn’t that the Hero’s Journey is the only pattern for story, or writing story, or life. It is that it is the single most useful tool I’ve found. Perhaps if I wasn’t a writer I’d feel differently, but everything that seems to make a difference in life, all the processes that lead from one level of life to another, can be sequenced along the HJ. And since complexity is the enemy of execution, once you learn the ten steps, you can drill deeper and deeper into it, living your days with increasing efficiency and effectiveness, and every time you see a movie or read a book, you are unconsciously strengthening your mental and emotional sinew.
Let’s apply this pattern to the question of accomplishment. “Goal setting”. Getting an outcome. One step at a time.
The first step is “Hero confronted with a challenge.” Simple, right? Objects in motion remain in motion, objects at rest tend to remain at rest. Unless something jars us out of our complacency, we will keep doing what we’re doing, surround ourselves with people who reinforce those behaviors, and travel the entropy highway toward deterioration and misery.
So SOMETHING has to disturb this path. Let’s look at the four major arenas of life:
- Body. Are you happy with your body? Would you be attracted to you? Your body is the cumulative result of the actions you take, which are driven by your emotions and values and optimized by your knowledge and discipline. Will you wait until a doctor tells you to take action, or tell the truth NOW and say you want to make a change?
- Career. Do you do what you love, or love what you do? Do the degree that you can engage in activities that get your juices going, you are going to be happy. To the degree that your livelihood feels like drudgery, you will be miserable at work. The truth is that ANY job can be made meaningful, by connecting it to your deep values and needs. You have agency in how you feel about it, and changing your emotions will help you have the mental flexibility to start plotting and planning your escape, if necessary.
- Relationships. We are attracted to people at our level of energy and integration…and above. And we attract those at our level of energy and integration…and below. If you are attracted to the people who are attracted to you, GREAT! If not…the answer is in the mirror. Either change your standards, or raise your game.
- Money. Tough arena. Is money a tool or an obstacle to your enjoyment of life? If an obstacle, you can set an outcome here, and decide to heal that wound.
Your ability to admit that you want to change, WANT TO BE HAPPY in these four arenas, is critical. Critical. The capacity to tell the truth here will determine the quality of your life. Once you admit it, the rest is finding the behaviors and strategies that will lead to happiness, and the resources that will help you get there.
And the most important question is not “what do I want to have?” but rather “Who am I committed to being?”
Who do you want to be in 2017? Are you willing to risk disappointment to have your life? Are you willing to live in the space of “maybe I’m wrong about my capacity for happiness?” Then these words might be useful to you. We’re going to go over the question of life direction applied to the Hero’s Journey for the next couple of weeks. Join me, won’t you?