Your life is a story. Have you ever thought about it in that way? I like to think of my life’s story as a book. A book I can author.

The pages of this book can be what happens in a day, a week or a month. Chapters can be years or decades. But, it all matters because it defines you. It’s your unique story.

You can write your story in a couple of ways. The first is you can simply react to what life or the Universe throws your way. Your car breaks down so you blame the Universe because you didn’t have the money to do preventative maintenance or buy a new one. That’s a bad page because now you have to take the bus, ask a friend for help or figure out how to find the money to fix it when you didn’t have the money to maintain it in the first place!

That page turns into a series of events that soon turn into a disastrous chapter of your life. You’re in a job you dislike immensely. You can’t seem to get ahead or even figure out how to get out of the rut you’re in. You’re depressed. Your relationships are suffering. Everything seems to be going wrong.

You know you’re meant for more, but can’t figure out how to change these chapters that seem to be defining your story right now.

Change starts with just one step and you can start to change your story by writing one page at a time. Here are 5 ways to start writing your pages and chapters so you can reshape your story.

1.  Learn from the messages in the mess

You have a choice. You can either focus on the mess and let all that negative energy control your emotions and life or you can learn from it. Focusing on the mess doesn’t change the fact that certain events happened that caused it. You can’t change the past. But, what you can do is reflect on those events that contributed to your mess and figure out how to not let history repeat itself. That’s learning from your mistakes, because when you know what went wrong and you know how you could have done better, you won’t repeat those mistakes. You’ll do better.

2.  Thrive on gratitude

There’s nothing that will get you through the tough times like recognizing and being grateful for what has gone right in your life and what you have in your life. By practicing gratitude, your attention is directed toward the positive aspects of your life instead of the negative. Grateful people are able to bounce back and recover quickly from setbacks or stressful situations. As a result, they are less likely to let bad events pull them into a downward spiral and more likely to grow in difficult times. In other words, gratitude makes us resilient. And, resilience helps reduce stress and improves mental, emotional and physical health. You’ll even sleep more soundly. I promise.   

3.  Know you can change

Sometimes you just have to recognize that you don’t have to go through the motions every day for the rest of your life. You don’t have to stay on this page or in this chapter. Now, you don’t have to completely reinvent yourself (although you could if you wanted to), just be aware of what’s going on and where you are in your story. Be aware of the stories you have told yourself in earlier chapters (or you’ve allowed others to tell you) because they may be at the root of the negative beliefs you have about yourself. These negative beliefs are not facts. And, none of them need to be true. So, get rid of them because they won’t serve you in your next chapter. Make that your first change.

4.  Decide what you want your story to be

If this chapter of life isn’t all you think it should be, figure out what you want based on your strengths, talents, ambitions and dreams. Design it. Make a plan to get there. Take action. Get to work.

5.  Check your habits

Your habits can either help propel you into a new chapter or they can keep you firmly in that comfort zone you long to break out of. If your habits are keeping you in your comfort zone, they are sabotaging your efforts to move out of it. It’s a simple as that. So, look those habits that are no longer serving you straight in the eye (you might need a mirror for this) and start to create new ones that better serve you. As Zach Galifianakis said in a movie, “You’d better check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Check your habits before they sabotage and wreck the chapter you desire before you even have an opportunity to design it, let alone live it.

Writing a new page or chapter in your life’s story takes work — by you. Only you can decide what your story will be. Only you can determine what’s on each page and in each chapter. Each moment is a new beginning. And, it’s never too late to turn the page and write a new chapter in your story!