Step Up and Take the Lead Role in Your Life’s Story

Man looking up at mountain top before a hikeFor some people, life is a grand adventure. Yet for others, they feel as though they are merely playing a bit part in someone else’s story. It’s true that not everything that unfolds in life is entirely of our own making. There are instances where decisions made by others impact us, or decisions we made didn’t turn out as intended. There are many situations where life simply isn’t easy or fair. However, the point of this article is not to dwell on that narrative, no matter how accurately it may reflect an individual’s particular circumstances. Instead, my hope is to encourage people to dig down deep and become the author of their own life’s journeys.

What I want to do here is help you realize that, no matter what your past looks like that got you to where you are right now, there are also countless people who come from varying backgrounds, including horrific pasts, that managed to go on to accomplish amazing things. Again, I don’t want to be overly optimistic about this or suggest that life can’t be hard – that wouldn’t serve anyone, and we all know to some extent that’s just not true. But we also need to acknowledge that, at the same time, while life can be difficult and there can be super difficult things that we have to overcome that get in our way, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all experienced some periods, some moments in our lives where things were good, where we’d say, ‘This is great, things are going well for us.’ Even when we look at things from a higher view, it may not feel that way, but if we can really dig in and get into the micro points in our lives, we’ve all got to acknowledge that there were moments, times, even if they were fleeting, that things were good, and we were on a positive path.

So, really, the point of sharing in this article is I want to help us get to a point where, no matter what happened in the past, we realize that we’re not just some small piece in our own story; we have the ability to be the lead character. And being the lead character means that we also get to write positive times, positive instances, accomplishments, and achievements into our lives.

As I said, I don’t want this to be a pep rally session. Instead, I hope that I can share a few practical things that you could put into action that’ll get you to a place, maybe, where you’re thinking you like the path that you’re on, you feel good about it, you feel more in control, and that, in fact, you can play a part in writing the script that is your life.

Without further ado, here are some practical things that I do and that I’ve seen other people do, which I hope will be helpful to you.

Make the decision to live an intentional life

It’s very easy, especially with how hectic life can be, to get into a pattern where we think and live in a way that things just happen to us. Believe me, it’s very easy to get into this pattern. We just wake up at a certain time without giving any specific thought to it. Maybe we do the same things day in and day out because that’s just the way we’ve always done them.

Whereas, from a practical standpoint, implementing intentionality into your life would look more like setting the alarm clock for a certain time to make sure you don’t oversleep. Or, if you have a goal, let’s say growing in your faith, and you want to spend more time on that area, maybe your intentionality means getting up a little earlier than you might in the morning, and that’s why you set your alarm clock.

Maybe you want to grow in your career, and so you identify some practical ways to do that, or to learn more about a career path you’re interested in. Maybe it’s going into a supervisory position or becoming a better salesperson, you name it – it could be anything related to your career. To spend time studying your industry, studying how to become a better salesperson, studying leadership principles – all those specific things are very intentional and practical things you could do.

But if you’re not intentional about the study and taking the time to learn those things, you’re just going to continue in that pattern, and you’re going to look up, and you’re not going to be any further along the path that will lead you where you want to be.

Again, being intentional about those things means saying, “I want to do this or that,” and writing it down, keeping it in a place where you’ll see it regularly. Maybe you put it on your dashboard, in front of your computer at work, or do as I sometimes do and write it on a 3×5 index card to keep in your pocket, so it’s always nearby. I often say that the things we give our attention to are the things that get done, and that’s pretty much the case most of the time.

So when we talk about living an intentional life, it sounds like a big thing, but really it’s just knowing what you’d like to see play out, taking a minute to identify what needs to be done in order for that to be the case, writing it down, and keeping it in your line of sight, in plain view, where you’ll act on what needs to be done.

Friend, I understand it sounds like a simple thing to do, but for everyone, it’s not going to be a natural thing. However, I can assure you that if you put in the effort it takes to develop a habit around being intentional, it’s going to pay a lot of dividends. Over time, you’re going to develop a kind of muscle memory around it, and you’re going to see that it becomes more natural for you.

What you focus on and give your time to influences you

If you’re one of those people who has no problem focusing on things that serve you, and you’re not challenged by working towards those things on a daily basis, then that’s fantastic. However, for a lot of us, what we allow to influence us are thoughts, people, groups, or things that, if we’re really honest with ourselves, don’t necessarily serve us in a positive way. Their influences are influencing us, just not in a way that, in the grand scheme of things, leads to positive outcomes.

Let’s look at a few examples. Take the news, for instance. If you’re starting your day with the news, which, let’s be honest, is mostly negative for the most part, the weight of that negativity is going to influence the way you see things. Now, I want to stop right here and clarify: I’m not saying that we should bury our heads in the sand and act as though everything’s perfect or not be informed about what’s happening around us. Far from that – I don’t think that serves anyone in a good way.

What I am saying, though, is that you need to be aware of the fact that if all you’re taking in is negative news, it’s going to have a negative effect. So you need to balance that out. At the very least, you need to go in understanding that, “Hey, I’m taking this information in, but I’m not going to let it consume me.” Again, I want to stress: don’t ignore things or be uninformed. Just be aware of the fact that the influence can end up leading us to an overwhelming feeling where we mistakenly think that there’s no chance for better circumstances or that life is completely out of our control.

Along the same lines of influence, it’s also worth understanding that our peer groups, the people in our lives, have an influence. Now, you’re going to have to determine for yourself whether those people are a positive or negative influence. It’s also worth pointing out that in some instances, we’re going to have people, even family members, who may not be a positive influence or whose association is not serving us well. But for various reasons, it’s not like we can just cut them off or avoid being around them altogether. At the same time, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to understand that those peer groups matter.

So, a practical thing you could do, even if you have a family member, co-worker, boss, or someone you can’t disassociate with, even though the association isn’t serving you positively, is just to understand and be aware of the fact that, “Hey, this association – I need to be aware and try to keep the influence to a minimum.” Something as simple as that awareness can help quite a bit.

I also understand that for some people, depending on their circumstances and what goals they’re trying to accomplish, they may not have anyone in their peer group that they can model or learn from to get where they want to go. That’s a reality for some, but even if that fits your circumstances, I want to stress that it’s not a good enough excuse – and here’s why:

Even if you don’t have anyone among your friends or peer group that fits the bill, you have the ability to learn from books. You have the ability to go online and read articles or find other resources. In other words, you can pick out the books, articles, and circumstances – however you can – to learn from, even if you can’t directly learn from individuals.

You can even look for individual mentors at your workplace – people who are where you want to be. There are lots of opportunities to get around, and even if you can’t get around those people directly, you can learn from them through interviews they’ve given or other materials. The point is, pick out those people who are winning in the areas you want to see success in your own life, and learn from them. There are many different ways to introduce positive influences into your peer group, even if you can’t directly associate with certain individuals.


As I mentioned earlier, the last thing I want is to seem unsympathetic to your circumstances or experiences. Life can undoubtedly present challenges that are not always easy to navigate. However, I want to emphasize once again that there are practical strategies, as outlined above, that can assist you if you’re open to them. In some cases, this may involve making difficult decisions to regain control of your life. One of the most crucial steps we can take is to maintain the belief that we are not powerless. Ultimately, we are not minor characters in someone else’s narrative; rather, we have the capacity to shape a fulfilling life for ourselves.

It’s Your Life, LIVE BIG!
Josh Hinds

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