This week I have invited change guru Matthew Williams to write a guest blog
As we approach the end of 2020 – and let’s be honest, the back of it can’t come soon enough – many of us will be taking stock of the year that everything changed.
Freedoms that earlier generations fought and died for, freedoms that are widely considered to be the foundational stones upon which our society is built – and that many of us have long taken for granted – were curtailed under the relentless advance of an enemy that few of us had even heard of this time last year: Covid-19.
2020 has taught us a lot, and it has powerfully reinforced a universal truth – the inevitability of change.
For many, change represents the unknown, the uncertain, and the uncontrollable. In short, it represents fear. For others change represents the new – excitement, opportunity and adventure.
Like much in life, it is our mindset that largely determines our experience of change.
Our mindset determines how we respond to the unexpected changes that life thrusts upon us without the courtesy of knocking on our door. Divorce, illness, bereavement, redundancy – all are examples of ‘plot twists’ in our stories that have the power to fundamentally alter the courses of our lives, forever. Our mindset also determines how likely we are to instigate change, our willingness to take the bold strides towards an unknown future that promises much but guarantees little.
Many of us are content to live within our comfort zone, safely socially distanced within our own bubble, unwilling to step towards the boundary of what is known and familiar. This can be true even when we may think we long for change.
But sometimes, as 2020 has brought home to many of us, life has a way of insisting that our comfort zone is no longer an option.
Life has dealt me two major plot twists in recent years – divorce and depression. And there has been one thing that has helped me to navigate my way past these most unwelcome of visitors – the pen (well, the keyboard and iPad too, but you get the point).
I became a writer in December 2015, a response to an accumulation of factors one year on from the end of my marriage. The thing is, I never set out to become a writer; it just kind of happened, sparked by a compulsion that had hitherto laid dormant. It wasn’t that I wanted to write about what I was going through, I needed to.
And so I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. What started as a blog became my first book, Something Changed – Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating and Depression; this was soon followed by my first poetry collection, A Familiar Stranger. Writing has enhanced my life in so many ways that I could never have imagined when my words first poured forth on my screen 6 years ago.
As I started my writing journey, words flowed from me in a constant stream, articulating difficult and painful thoughts and emotions and giving form to my internal struggles. The act of writing was a powerful catharsis, but it was more than that. What was released was repurposed, reframed. Meaning and clarity came from the chaos and confusion of divorce, and from my prior struggles with my mental health, to which I also turned the illuminating scroll of my pen. My struggles were thus embodied within a bigger, more significant story; a story of self-doubt and self-discovery, of challenge and of change.
The act of writing was one part of this story, the other major part was the act of sharing my story with others. A few people close to me were concerned about this. Was it going to be good for my mental health? And what about what other people thought of my (over)sharing of some of my most difficult moments, within an online environment that often likes to share the shining surfaces of life far more readily than the dark undersides.
I reflected on what my compulsion to share my story was rooted in. Although I would describe myself as a confident and friendly person, I’m not someone that naturally likes to draw attention to myself (and if I was, there’s better things to be noticed for than going through divorce and depression!).
In sharing my story publicly while it was unfolding, I felt I was somehow holding myself to account. I was forcing myself to find the positives, to turn these adversities into something good, and to create a better future from the ashes of the past.
As an avid lifetime reader, I also recognised the power of our stories to make a difference in the lives of others. A truthful story, boldly and fearlessly told, holds a rare and potent power. Having found my voice, I felt an obligation to share my story, to show others going through similar trials that they were not alone, that someone else out there ‘got it’. And that together, as writer and reader, we would get through it.
In writing my story I created an empowering narrative that became a springboard for a new and better life. And now, through the gift of storytelling, I am helping to change the lives of others. I have developed an online personal development programme, Change, which uses storytelling principles to help people to unleash the power of their own personal story. It helps people to explore their life story in a way that is, according to one attendee, ‘inspiring, fresh and different’. It enables them to reframe their narratives where they fail to serve their best interests, and to help people take the necessary steps to write the best chapters in their life stories to date – as their best selves.
As we look forward to 2021 I want to use the lessons of my writing life to help others to embrace the opportunity to first define, and then design, the life stories that they want to live.
Why settle for your life when you can get busy writing a better one?
Change is Matthew’s unique new online personal development programme that uses the power of your own personal story to help you to:
- discover what is holding you back from living your best life
- gain insight and clarity on the changes that will bring you greater success and happiness
- identify the steps that will lead you to a more fulfilling life
You can sign up for free introduction to Change and a special discount offer here: https://change.afamiliarstranger.co.uk/