Do you ever feel like you’re not getting anywhere or that life is not worth living? 

Do you ever stop and think, “This is not where I imagined I’d be at this point in life?” 

If you said yes, to any or all of these questions, know that you’re not alone. Whether we’re too busy or not busy enough, whether we’re young or old, or whether we’re relatively happy or generally sad, it’s not uncommon for questions like these to stop us in our tracks and make us wonder how we arrived here and whether we can take another step. We look back at our life, and it looks like a rambling, “stream-of-unconsciousness” journal entry rather than a well-structured story.

tight-ropeIn my last post, “A Letter to the Perfectionist Who Can’t Finish Anything“, I suggested that those paralyzed by perfectionism need to focus on taking the next step. When it comes to being overwhelmed by disappointment with our life story, perhaps, a way to approach these feelings of hopelessness and helplessness is to examine them one word at a time.

shoot-againOn November 30, 2013, the second anniversary of my diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease, I wrote a post called, “Perseverance Is the Word of the Year.” As I looked back at the events of that year, the common theme I saw was perseverance. I don’t consider this to be one of my primary strengths, yet as I examined that year’s events and how I responded to them, that is what stood out to me. Somehow, even in one of the more difficult times of my life, I found a reason for hope, and I am reminded of that with just one word.

If you’re not up to writing a journal entry, a blog post, or a full-length memoir the next time difficult life questions pop into your head, consider writing down just one word. What one word describes the last month or last year of your life? It might take a bit of time to narrow it down. Don’t automatically reject the negative words if they are appropriate, but do consider the positives as well. Taking the time to come up with that word will challenge you to examine life with a more focused lens, and what you find may surprise you.

Jot down the word someplace you’ll see it regularly and add to the list each month or year. Then, you can look back and remember how you arrived at your current destination. And perhaps, you can begin to choose what you’d like the next word to be instead of just letting life happen to you.

For me, the word, story, sums up a lot of what has been going on in my life. I’ve been focusing not only on writing stories and living my story, but I’ve also been intentionally making time to let other people tell me their stories.

So what’s your Word of the Month for May?