“Change is inevitable. Growth is intentional.” ~Glenda Cloud
My life is over.
That’s what I thought when I got the news that I’d lost my job after fifteen years with two sister companies. I loved this job. I was on the road to becoming everything I thought I wanted to be—a Hollywood studio vice president, well on my way to running a studio someday.
I was doing something I loved, developing stories. And now it was all over.
Have you ever had a moment like that? When the end of something in your life felt like the end of your life? You’re not just being overdramatic—when we lose a job or relationship or role, we do experience loss. So how do we pick ourselves up and move on?
For me, even though my Hollywood job had ended, in a way it was Hollywood that saved me, too. I realized that I needed to shift my perspective. Losing this job wasn’t the end of my story; it was the difficult middle.
Think of all the movies you’ve seen where, at the midpoint of the story, the hero starts to run into some serious obstacles. It’s at this moment when she starts to see the weakness in her approach to her problems.
She has to go through an “all is lost moment” before she can reach the “aha” moment when she realizes what she really has to do to achieve her goals.
In the best stories, this moment represents a shift from ego to spirit.
For example, in The King’s Speech, it’s not until our hero Bertie’s brother gives up the throne, forcing Bertie to do the thing he fears most—speak in public—that he changes his perspective.
Instead of focusing on his own ego and his fear of humiliation, he learns to focus on leading his people. When Bertie makes this shift from the ego to the spirit, he realizes how achieving his goal of conquering his stutter is really about serving others.
When I looked at losing my job through the lens of story, I realized that I, too, had been too attached to my ego.
I was so focused on that end goal of running a studio someday that I’d become blind to the way my work was affecting me on a spiritual level.
I had started doing things that went against my true values. I had stopped listening to my colleagues, because my ego didn’t want to hear anyone else’s ideas. But my story wasn’t over—this was just the difficult middle.
Changing my perspective would change the story of my life.
When you hit obstacles in your life story, you may find yourself humbled. But at that moment you have a choice: will you stick with your old ego-driven perspective, or will you transcend it? Is your story over, or is this just the difficult middle?
When you experience this kind of loss, putting your ego aside will help you figure out the next chapter in your story. There are three steps involved in making this mental shift:
Recognizing that we’ve been driven by ego is the first step toward resolving the problem.
Understanding how my attachment to ego had led to the end of my job helped me pick myself up and redefine my goals. I decided to use my experience to help others achieve their dreams, instead of continuing to strive for personal gain.
Once you’ve recognized the role of your ego, you need to take action to change the direction of your story.
Let your spirit guide your actions instead of your ego. Instead of focusing inward and dwelling on your loss, reach outward. Redefine your goals to make them more about connecting and serving others.
I’ve found that pursuing a goal that’s about connection to others is much more fulfilling than pursuing a goal that’s about glorifying my ego. I believe if you find a spirit-driven goal, you’re more likely to feel like you’re moving toward a happy ending.
Spirit-guided action will actually make it easier for you to accomplish your goals. When we’re consumed by our own desires, we don’t allow room for other people’s perspectives. We don’t see how our actions might affect others. Other people become obstacles instead of potential partners.
True communication with yourself and with others will put you in harmony with your spirit and the world around you. Acting out of this harmony will create the momentum you need to achieve your goals.
Let the obstacles you face prompt you to reevaluate your goals. Is your spirit setting your agenda, or your ego? How will letting go of your ego help you connect to others? How might that connection change the way you define your intentions?
When we feel connected instead of isolated and detached, we transcend our own small egos. And just like the heroes of our favorite stories, when we transcend our own perspectives, we ultimately find greater fulfillment.
If you look at your life as a story, you’ll see that obstacles push you toward growth. That loss or change isn’t the end of your story—it’s just the beginning of your new chapter.
Lori’s Note: I was thrilled to interview Jen Grisanti for my first ever eCourse. Learn more about the course, Recreate Your Life Story: Change the Script and Be the Hero, here.
Photo by Darren Johnson