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Live A Better Story In 2015

by jenny sansouci on December 31, 2014

Hey guys! I’m on the Amtrak train from Boston to NYC right now. It’s December 30th (when I started writing this post), which means obviously I’m reflecting back on the past year. At this time last year, I decided my focus for 2014 was going to be getting out of my comfort zone. It was a lot of fun and I had some incredible experiences (I linked to a few of them in this post), and I can honestly say I’m proud of myself for it.

A few of my blog posts from 2014 about getting out of my comfort zone also happen to be the most popular ones from this year. And they are DEFINITELY the ones that people bring up to me the most when they see me in person. Interesante – no?

A couple of highlights-

Staying Sober At Burning Man
My Experience At The Landmark Forum
Why I Went To Co-Ed Naked Yoga

Getting out of my comfort zone is still going to be a focus moving forward, probably forever, but I have a new focus for 2015 — one that I really want you to join me on. It definitely goes hand in hand with the whole comfort zone thing, it’s just a different way of thinking about how you live your life.

LIVING A BETTER STORY.

What do I mean by this? I just finished the book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. If you aren’t familiar, I suggest you pick it up immediately. It’s the first book I’ve actually read cover to cover in a long time. I was inspired to read it after Joel told me this book was instrumental in him starting his blog. His blog is so cool it makes me wanna punch things (in a good way), so I knew this was gonna be a special book.

I felt so inspired reading this book, I knew I had to make it my focus for the entire year (and hopefully beyond). And THAT is big time, peeps.

The concept of “living a better story” in this book came from Donald Miller’s life. Without giving away the entire book, basically some movie producers wanted to create a movie about his life, but when they actually went to create the movie, they had to change a ton of things to make it a better story — a story people would actually want to watch.

He realized through this experience that he wanted to make his ACTUAL LIFE a better story, one that he would want to watch. I’ve loved this concept for a long time, making your life a movie you’d want to watch. I remember thinking about that when I was younger. I’d pretend I was in a movie and think about what a movie character might do to make it more interesting.

Donald Miller spent a long time researching what makes a great story, what remarkable stories all have in common. He took courses in story writing.

So what’s the difference between just living, and living a GREAT STORY?

I’ll tell ya, and you’re gonna want to blast off into 2015 living more memorable moments, creating more exciting stories, and doing stuff that freaking blows your own mind.

First — think about your favorite stories. Your favorite movies. Why are they so good?

A GREAT STORY INVOLVES: A character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

A character. (You)

Who wants something (What do you want? No – seriously. WHAT DO YOU WANT?)

And overcomes conflict (Obstacles aren’t a bad thing – they make a better story!!!)

To get it. (Whether you get “it” or not, it’s gonna make a damn good story if you try).

Now. The thing about living a good story is you need a reason, you need a desire. In storyteller talk, it’s called the inciting incident — something happens in your life that forces you to change, or forces you into action. You can create your own inciting incidents, it doesn’t have to be something that happens TO you, but sometimes it is. In the book, Donald Miller signs up for a hike up Machu Picchu, which he was in NO physical shape to do — with a girl he has a crush on. He had no choice but to get into awesome shape ASAP (which really, he’d always wanted to do but never followed through on). Then he signs up to bike across America and is forced, once again, to push himself out of his comfort zone and really work towards something.

A few gems from the book:

“We don’t want to be characters in a story because characters have to move and breathe and face conflict with courage. And if life isn’t remarkable, then we don’t have to do any of that; we can be unwilling victims rather than grateful participants.”

“Once you know what it takes to live a better story, you don’t have a choice. Not living a better story would be like deciding to die, deciding to walk around numb until you die.”

“You can call it God or a conscience, or you can dismiss it as that intuitive knowing we all have as human beings, as living storytellers; but there is a knowing I feel that guides me toward better stories, toward being a better character. I believe there is a writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness.”

“People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work that it takes to make it happen.”

AWESOME RIGHT? I know.

I’ll be completely and unapologetically honest with you guys about a couple of things I want right now (aside from a life generally filled with travel, adventure, and romance 😉 ), here are just a few of my specific, very bold desires at this very moment:

I want to be in the best physical shape of my life.

I want to make $20k+ every month from this blog, CONSISTENTLY, by creating meaningful content that helps people make more powerful choices in their lives. (I was gonna say $10k per month to sound more reasonable, but hey, “reasonable” is not really the goal here).

I want to find (and commit to) a bigger purpose, something that makes the world a better place and gets me out of bed every morning. And I want to write a book.

There ya go.

Are these things easy? Nope.

Do they take a LOT of hard work, dedication and discipline? Of course. Yes. A lot. So much.

Are they completely out of reach? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

The truth is I’ve wanted these things for a long time but I’ve been playing the half-ass game. What kind of story is that? A mediocre one that’s not gonna cut it anymore.

“If hard work pays off, then easy work is worthless.” -Nelly

If you want unreasonable results, you have to take unreasonable action.

So in my story, that’s what my character wants and she’s gonna face obstacles and conflict in order to make it happen. Obstacles and conflicts of time, resources, emotions, energy, finances, self-doubt, and all the other usual suspects. Lots of them. I can’t ensure victory. But I can take steps that’ll make getting close to victory more likely, and I’m willing to bet the story will get really interesting along the way – as long as I stay in the arena.

1- I can schedule out my workouts for the entire month of January (and push myself out of my comfort zone to make it happen).

2- I can create a work/writing schedule for myself (I NEVER SCHEDULE MY WORK), so I’m actually clearing the space to create, as well as a “pay attention to finances” schedule — to commit to the schedule for a solid month, tweak it based on what works well, and move forward. But the schedule will always include time for planning out the day’s specific tasks and time for executing on them. (This is super out of my comfort zone, as I love winging it).

3- To be on top of my game in life, I’ve gotta be super clean with my diet, because I need to have the energy to do all this work and let creativity and inspiration flow in easily. “Super clean” is different for everyone, but for me it ALL has to do with the foods that have the biggest effect on my energy and mood — this generally means nixing sugar and coffee most of the time.

All this discipline may not sound like that much fun (and believe me, fun IS a priority), but being a successful entrepreneur and being able to have a life of freedom actually takes TREMENDOUS discipline — even though I rebel against it so hard. Because deep down I know the truth. Discipline = freedom.

Luckily for the unfolding of my story, I’ve had a couple of inciting incidents recently that are kicking my “character” into high gear — something I really need to be in shape for, and some big money owed. Now my character really WANTS something and there’s a necessity portion to the story too, which makes it much more interesting.

BUT GUESS WHAT – the point of creating a better story isn’t REALLY about getting the things you want. It’s about LIVING — being in the story, and how you change in the process. How much stronger you become, how much more courageous you become by living through something and being changed because of it. The point isn’t “the getting of the thing,” but instead, the character transformation that occurs in the process of your quest. You’re LIVING!

Donald Miller says — “Human beings aren’t really motivated by goals; they’re motivated by character transformation. Every story that we love is about a character that doubts themselves in the beginning and believes in themselves at the end.”

I really love that.

A character is what he does…not what he thinks about doing. 

Making your life a better story is relative and you probably have way different interests than me, and they change all the time. Sometimes my desires are much more relationship focused than fitness/business focused, like wanting to love more fearlessly or allow myself to be more vulnerable or become more intimate with all of life. Ya know, easy stuff like that. 😉 The focus of these desires evolve and change depending on what’s happening in life, just as the character in a story evolves and changes.

What kind of story would make YOUR life something you’d want to watch or read about?

Maybe it’s going for something you’ve always wanted. Repairing that relationship. Telling someone the honest truth. Taking a courageous risk. Finally creating that life you daydream about.

Embrace the obstacles you face. Because you know what makes an EPIC story, I learned? The stories everyone remembers? The movies that bring in the most money at the box office?

I’ll tell you right now.

It’s when a character’s actual LIFE is at stake for what he or she wants.

Talk about obstacles.

I’m not suggesting you risk your life for anything – I mean come on, please. What I am suggesting is that obstacles and conflict are NOT your signal to just sit on the couch and watch TV instead of work towards what you truly want. Obstacles are the key to your story being more exciting and interesting.

OK! PEOPLE. Are you fired up yet, at all? If not, meh, fine, go find something else to read.

But if you are, come on, let’s DO IT! PLEASE!

All you gotta do is

1) Identify what would make your life a better story – what do you want?

2) Identify what it’ll take for you to make it happen

3) Start planning and executing 🙂

Here’s a song to carry you into 2015 feeling powerful and ready to live a better story. This song (along with No Miracles by Kid Ink) is on my running playlist right now and when I listen to it I think I might take off and fly.

“One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember.”

The Nights – Avicii

Welp, clearly at least one of us is excited here. 

I could write so much more. But I think you get the point and this post is becoming a book instead of a blog (hey, see? I’m already writing that book I mentioned).

So I’m gonna stop talking now, and you’re gonna have to read this book to understand the rest.

Ok, so now you know that 2015 is all about living a better story — I wanna know. What does that mean to you? Will you join me?

Please share in the comments. What do you want? What do you need to overcome to get it? How are you gonna get started?

Let’s head out there and live a better story in 2015!!!!

“I started creating a few different stories at the same time. One was about finding my father. The other was about chasing a girl. And still another was about, well, riding my bicycle.

Your life is a blank page. Write on it.”

-Donald Miller

life-story

 

And get the book. Seriously.

#liveabetterstory

#beunreasonable

#blastoffinto2015

Love you guys. Let’s go!!




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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicolle December 31, 2014 at 6:41 pm

my Favorite post! Ever. So fired up! It felt like the end of that movie any given Sunday with Al Pacino (one of my faves) your 2015 movie is going to crush it! Keep inspiring and writing Jenny!

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Thanks Nicolle!!! Now I need to watch that movie! Haha.

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Brittany January 1, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Thank you for such an awesome post! The passion you hold for this book and new year radiates off the page 🙂 Picking up the book today!

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:36 pm

Hope you love the book! Happy new year!

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Jake Thompson January 1, 2015 at 1:21 pm

Love this Jenny. Great attitude, great approach to not only 2015, but life. Hope it is the best chapter yet of your life!

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Thanks, Jake! I hope you’re having a great 2015 so far. 🙂

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Dave Boller January 1, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Im in!. Love the blog and my life is not a movie i’d watch yet… Suggestion, if u want elite health and fitness i highly highly recommend CrossFit, give it 3 solid months and u will not look back. Getting book today!

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:35 pm

Thanks Dave! Yes, I’ve tried Crossfit and was scared to go back, but maybe one day. 🙂 Hope you’re doing great!

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Emily January 1, 2015 at 3:15 pm

I love this so so much. Been following you for a few year now and you have been such an inspiration to kick my life into high gear (in all facets), so thank you immensely! And happy happy New year!

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:34 pm

Woohoo! Thanks Emily! Glad to know you’re kicking it into high gear, it ain’t easy but it’s worth it. 🙂

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Ritu January 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Jenny! 2015 has been so *extreme* already, and my whole world has started to change. It was a conscious desire and a prayer to the universe for change, but I didn’t expect it to start to quickly. It’s Jan 2nd, here in Australia, and I’m at my office job, sitting here, freaking out. On the verge of tears, I prayed to god for a sign, and after 3 mins, your email was in my inbox. Thank you universe!

For me, this means a lot “It’s when a character’s actual LIFE is at stake for what he or she wants.” Because I feel like if I don’t go after what I want right now, I will die and my whole life will be worthless. My whole life depends on making big changes right now. My whole life depends on taking big risks right now. My whole life is hanging on the obstacles I need to go through right now. Will I come out in one piece at the end of it? Well, I hope not, because I want to come out lighter, free-er, purer and cleaner.

So I can love better.

This year is going to be so amazing, so challenging, so scary and the reward of throwing myself into these obstacles are going to be so big, it makes me want to cry. Out of fear, and heart break, and in the middle of that, out of happiness and relief.

This is so weird. But I’m so ready. And I know I have support. From the Universe, from you, from god.

Love you Jenny, thank you for this. Here’s to $20K+ per year on this blog. I see it already!

Ritu

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:33 pm

Ritu! What a beautiful comment. I have no doubt you will do everything you need to do to live the best story. Look at all you’ve accomplished so far! You’re an inspiration to me. Keep going. YOU ARE SUPPORTED. Hope to see you in Oz and create some great stories together soon. 🙂

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Hadley Gustin January 1, 2015 at 7:36 pm

Bar none, this is the best post you’ve ever written, Jenny!

There are no accidents… I just finished reading The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho yesterday and spending the last couple of months developing a coaching program concept around this whole idea of “living your personal legend, a hero’s journey.”

I could not be more aligned with your same intention of living a better story especially in 2015, the year of wealth and abundance. I can’t wait to see how your story plays out through your blog, book and otherwise.

In the meantime, I want to wish you a very happy new year. I hope day #1 of your 2015 chapter has been a massive success!

I also want to thank you for continuously inspiring me each day through your blog/social media posts. You are by far one of the most interesting people I follow, and getting to witness your journey helps me to be more creative and “unreasonably” daring in my own.

Happy 2015, and here’s to always living legendary stories!

All the Best,

Hadley Gustin

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Ah! Thank you so much Hadley!!! Very grateful for your support and encouragement, it really means a lot. Cheering you on this year!

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Greg January 1, 2015 at 9:13 pm

Interesting blog, I just followed you on Instagram, gmoose85. I am actually in the mist of trying to create a new path and I’m interested in seeing how your story unfolds.

Thank you

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Fun! Glad we’re connected on the insta!

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Kelly January 2, 2015 at 7:34 am

Great post Jenny! I feel really inspired and I want a great story for my life!
Thank you for reminding me.

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:31 pm

Yes! Awesome, Kelly. Hope you’re having a great 2015 so far.

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Blair January 2, 2015 at 10:25 am

I am so inspired by this, Jenny! On my way to Amazon to pick up this book!! Thank you, my dear 🙂

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:29 pm

Yay! Let me know how you like it! xoxo

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denese bottrell January 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm

Jenny, you literally gave me the words and the reason to support a crazy effort i’ve undertaken… getting a fine arts/associates degree in piano at a community college. i already have a degree and i don’t plan on making music my career. i just want to experience being able to play the piano beautifully … and singing along would be icing on the cake. for the past couple of years, i’ve taken voice and piano lessons, which have given me some confidence and convinced me that yes, with practice, i can learn how to sing and i can already play the piano fairly well. what i’ve been questioning is my method… do i really need to get a degree in music, study music theory and all that stuff to accomplish this dream? no……but, the discipline around a school setting suits me. it is the exact reason i went to IIN when i wanted to learn about nutrition. school gives me structure. this music thing is the hardest thing i’ve ever undertaken…it is almost painful, making myself sing in front of others, play piano for tests, study for music theory tests that are more mathematical than musical. just when i was thinking of taking some time off from school, your post reminded me that it is the story i’m going for … i always go for big things like this, because i want the experience of having accomplished them. i don’t want to look back on my life and be sad that i didn’t try. i have all kinds of people around me asking why i’m putting myself through this agony… especially in the midst of planning a wedding, oh yea, there’s that… and i haven’t been able to articulate why. “because it will make a great story” is my new answer. i’m buying this book today to give me an extra boost to keep going for craziness like this. also on my list this year is turning 50 in November feeling pretty, and like you, “in the best shape of my life.” it’s all possible… and totally within reach. but it’s going to take some discipline around my schedule. i’ve been lazy with my workouts… now is not the time to drop that ball ! i also want to get serious and more consistent with my blog and use it to promote IIN through the Ambassador program. it will be a year of crazy goodness, with some scariness thrown in. all could be amazing if i keep it together and use the tools that keep me grounded… yoga, meditation, morning pages, a schedule and inspiring reading like your blog. thank you, for all you do. let’s rock this 2015 thing!!

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jenny sansouci January 10, 2015 at 10:28 pm

“i don’t want to look back on my life and be sad that i didn’t try.” YES!!! I agree. GOOD LUCK, congrats on getting serious about what you want and going for it! I’m cheering for you!

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