One Simple Way To Change Your Life

By telling stories to ourselves and others, in dreams, in diaries, in friendships, in marriages, in therapy sessions, we grow slowly not only to know who we are, but also to become who we are.
— Rita Charon, Narrative Medicine

I love coffee. Most days, I would drink five cups or more. I realize that this isn’t good, but it was just so hard to stop! Over the last few years, I would stop by cutting down to one or no cups per day for a few weeks, but because real change is hard, I always got sucked right back into the old habits. It always started innocently enough… “oh, one more cup won’t hurt.” Before I knew it, I was guzzling it down by the pot-full again. It was a cycle I could see clearly but could never curtail.

At the very end of 2015, I gave it all up. It had been a long time coming. I realized the health effects it had on me. If I was being honest myself, I knew that being dependent on caffeine to feel normal was bringing down my overall quality of life. In November, I went to a doctor's appointment and thought to myself "what if he asks how much caffeine I drink. I'd be embarrassed to tell him!" This was my wake up call. If I was embarrassed telling my doctor how much I drink, then there's a real problem. So I decided I would get myself in order. I started by going cold turkey. After a couple of rough days filled with exhaustion, I came out of my body’s addiction to caffeine, finding myself feeling much better. I feltmore energetic and awake than I had been while drinking coffee. Oh, the irony.

Feeling inspired, I looked at some other things that weren’t where I wanted them to be in my life and realized that I was totally out of shape. I hadn’t exercised substantially in over a year. I kept telling myself, “you’re busy” and let myself off without making any changes in my fitness. Feeling the self-confidence I gained from dropping my coffee habit, I decided to start exercising. It happened to begin right around the New Year, so even though I find them corny, this coincidentally turned into my New Year's Resolution.

On January 1, I also began the 100 Days of Story Challenge with Self Narrate. (#StoryYear!)
I recorded my very first video story on January 2, right after I went for my first run in over a year. I decided to share the story of the last time I got myself into shape.

By sharing my story and my current goals, I created accountability for myself. My accountability partner is... the internet. Whoever watched this video has seen me expressing my goal. Secretly, I’m afraid that I may fail just as I have all those other times I tried to quit coffee. I do not want to be a quitter and knowing that people out there would see me backslide if I don’t follow through helps keep me motivated to get up and exercise in the morning or not drink that cup of coffee in the middle of the afternoon.

I’m telling my story, expressing my goals, and sharing my fears. In doing so, I’m becoming who I want to be. I’m becoming my story.

I encourage you to participate in #StoryYear. Share a story on any platform, tagging it with #StoryYear. Someone out there needs to hear your story and as it was for me, maybe that person is you.