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Writing Your Story: 5 Ways to Discover Your World

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“The future is completely open, and we are writing it moment to moment.” ~Pema Chodron

This past year has been one of tremendous self-discovery. One day, I suddenly realized after nine years of a very straight finance-paved path that I no longer wanted to be a corporate banker.

Instead, I wanted to wake up each morning with a bigger purpose—an idea of who I was and what I stood for outside of this corporate lifestyle.

Since that day, I seemed to be in tiresome pursuit in finding my story. I even seriously debated moving out of the country to build character and expand my journey.

While my own story is one that remains on the preface page, I have realized in several months of contemplation that we can’t discover our personal novel by rushing the process or through constant over analyzing.

It is, instead, a combination of our daily experiences and the wisdom we receive from them that shapes our meaning.

We all have a truly unique story, but we don’t have to be in a hurry to write it or create it. When we start living life instead of always trying to figure it out, our story—our meaning, our purpose—will present itself in amazing ways.

Here are five activities I have found helpful in discovering my world:

1. Share three “grateful statements” a day.

It’s remarkable how your day and life can become instantly transformed by realizing the gifts and abundance that exist all around you right here, right now.

Drop a line through text, email, or a good old-fashioned phone call with a sister, friend, boyfriend, or anyone else close to you about something you’re grateful for.

It can be a simple thing—how you have AC in your car in the sweltering heat, for example. A grateful approach will awaken you to see the world that exists in front of you today, leading to happier, brighter, more meaningful days.

2. Explore contrast exercises.

If you are a night person, like I am, you get a surge of energy every night at 11:00 and manage to find something, anything, to keep you occupied way past your bedtime.

I recently (and not easily) began going to bed by 10:00. This way, I  could get up in the morning for a run or a spin class, followed by a morning meditation before I started on my commute.

I am in awe of how the day looks and feels different by waking up at a new hour, from the sunrise to the increased productivity level I have by mid-morning.

If you are a morning person, try staying up until the midnight hour and notice the difference around you. Or, if you enjoy taking walks at night as part of your workout regiment, what happens if you try out a new hip-hop class at your gym instead?

When exploring other parts of your day that you’re not aware of by making small adjustments, a whole new discovery and perspective may surface.

3. Commit to thirty days of excellence.

This year my husband and I have made a fun activity of practicing thirty days of excellence. We’ve done everything from “thirty days of going to bed on time” to “thirty days of five-minute, daily meditation” to “thirty days of being mindful about our attitude and what we share.”

Committing to thirty days of excellence to form a habit can improve your world. It will give you the energy and inspiration to take on the next step in your journey of discovery.

4. Write an “I want…” list.

There are tons of articles and books out there about knowing what it is you want to do with your life. I am here to repeat this important exercise: Write “I want…” at the top of a piece of paper or your journal and start writing without pausing to think.

Keep this list at your bedside and revisit it daily. By tuning into knowing exactly what it is you want, you will be able to identify it when you see it, without it passing by without notice.

5. Create a board of inspiration.

I have a fascination with cards. Ever since I was a little girl, I would make cards from scratch for every occasion and everyone around me.

We constantly had family members visiting from Taiwan when I was younger. I’d always show up at the airport with a personalized card welcoming the guest to town.

Now, twenty-plus years later, I still love cards. Instead of creating them, I collect them. I enjoy finding meaningful messages and quotes in card shops. I recently purchased a blank canvas where I’ve pasted each of those cards in a square, and hung it up in a place in my home office. I revisit them every day to stay inspired.

What inspires you? Is it a photo of a place you once visited? A picture from a travel magazine you want to vacation to? Or perhaps a CD cover from your favorite artist? Create a board of inspiration, visit it daily, and let it speak to you.

Make yourself inspired to continually discover your world. Your world unfolds in the process.

Photo by Ira Gelb

Profile photo of Cat Li Stevenson

About Cat Li Stevenson

Cat is an explorer of the human journey and a lover of well-being. She is living and practicing at an urban Zen Center in San Francisco, and working for Wisdom 2.0, an organization that strives to bring wisdom and awareness into the digital age. You can add her as a friend on FB or find her writing on Medium.

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  • i strongly agree, especially with point number 4, keep it up 🙂

  • Holly

    The part that resonates for me is to not RUSH, to relax and let the meaning shape itself over time. I'm very impatient by nature, and I struggle with the “relax” part!

  • msfwd

    being am a habitual night owl and i do love finding the collision of both peace and creativity as the night grows into silence. BUT i caught the past few sunrises and practiced gratitude at the same time. The result had a powerful impact on my day and how I choose to view my story as you put it. I must try 3 – 5!!

  • Cat Li Stevenson

    I love what you said about finding peace and creativity in the evenings… I'm still a newbie to the early AM discoveries; so far I have enjoyed all that it has to offer. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Cat Li Stevenson

    Holly, so many of us are impatient. It's easier to look forward than to revel and appreciate the moment. I have to always keep a reminder in order to stay present. Best to you.

  • Good article that will let us take action straight away. Love it 🙂 thanks for sharing.

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  • Daswanijyoti

    All this can be done, side by side with your job of corporate banking. Your introduction below the article states that you are a corporate banker, whereas, in your blog, you say that you have quit as a banker. All in all a good one.

  • Cat Li Stevenson

    Hi Daswanijytoi,

    You're absolutely right that all of this can be done alongside who we are at the moment.

    I still am in banking today; in my blog, it was a thought of no longer being in the industry…however, during this time, It was also an awakening that lead me to realize we can still create our world and have self-awareness, outside of our profession. I'm grateful to now understand our 8 to 5 does not have to label or define us.

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  • Cat Li Stevenson

    Thank you, DIth!

  • Cat Li Stevenson

    Appreciate the support, Forouk. Affirmations are a wonderful tool in revealing our values and what we want out of life. Thank you 🙂

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  • A.J.

    I am grateful to have caring family
    I am grateful to have good friends
    I am mostly grateful to have a big, kind and forgiving heart, despite the fact that this makes it vulnerable to heartaches and disappointments

    thanx for the post

  • some one

    i want to begin my story with something called “love to life” many will say and ask why i put this name on my story because this is the real no one can life without love , love some one or love something help him to contanuo and never give up for life oh oh i wander to be a lover a real love not that fake just say it and nothing… not important if i am a man or a lady …. i dont know what i shoud love or why i am doing this any one will read this will not give any care i say that i am not sure that the life want us to life but i just life to hate just hate i hate the life i want to die how many read this now i want the same anyway we all going to die so die now or latter not matter god help me for give me …. i say this to life no more what i found just sadness what i found hate why what the hell i do for this pleas god for give me if i kill my silfe when the end when some one tell me this my life this my story what is your story like me or you have some this to life for it ? ask you silfe and this the end of my small story.

  • luna

    Thank you! Nicely shared. I really like the 30 days of excellence idea- what a fun and valuable way to create a creative and inspirational container for daily life!