I write a lot about fictional characters. To craft a good novel—my preference is romance or science fiction/fantasy—it’s important for an author to really know the characters. It’s called GMC, or goal, motivation, and conflict. What does the character want? Why does the character want it? What’s stopping the character? These probably sound pretty familiar for our own day-to-day lives, too.
However, the advice isn’t just for writers looking to pen the next best selling book. It’s for everyone. These days we’re running from job to home to take care of family, friends, and we often leave little times for ourselves. Hardly anyone I talk to says “I have enough time to do the things I want to do.” It’s all “got to do this” and “better do that”.
Which makes it all the more important to connect with the story of ourselves. Each of us, whether we consciously realize it or not, has a powerful story to tell. We have a word, or maybe principles, which guide our actions. By getting in touch with that—our story—we tap into our own inner power.
Such a phrase “tap into our own inner power” doesn’t need to be some pie-in-the-sky goal. Each of us has a story and with that story comes our own personal power. We can stop “got to” and “better do” on our way through our lives and add more “want to”.
Reason #1: Goal
What do you want? An innocent enough question and one that’s easy to superficially answer. But what do you really want? If you could close your eyes, twitch your nose, snap your fingers and craft the ideal life for you RIGHT NOW, what would you want. That’s your goal. It may be freedom. It could be ease. Perhaps it’s love and joy.
Without tapping into your own story, there’s a good chance you are missing the deep seated “what” in your life. And summing up what you want into a single word isn’t easy, but when you find that word doors open for you.
How do you find this goal? Listen. Listen to your heart and soul. Listen to the themes that come up around you. Listen to the words whispered on the wind. Take some time for yourself and simply ask, “what do I want?”
Reason #2: Motivation
Why do you want your goal? Think about your motivations for a moment. We go to work because we have to earn a paycheck. If we didn’t have a paycheck we couldn’t pay our bills. It’s not a nice motivation, but one of those realistically gritty ones. Our motivations get used against us all the time by a corporate world that tells us what we should want, feel, believe, or do. It’s time we took back the power of our own motivation and discovered why we want things for ourselves.
Once you have a goal, the motivation comes along behind it fairly quickly. Again, this is one that you can answer superficially. We want freedom so we can do things. Well yeah, but what things and why, and how does that fit in with your life and your heart?
Knowing your motivation opens up opportunities for you to really take control of your story and in turn your life. Once you know why you want a goal, then everything can be assessed with an eye toward if it will help, or hinder, that goal. Decisions become easy. There’s no more wishy-washiness about making a choice because honestly, the choice has already been made for you—by you.
Reason #3: Conflict
Okay, so conflict isn’t exactly a reason to know your own story, but once you know what’s stopping you from achieving your goals, you can overcome it. Know thy enemy and all that jazz. If your conflict is within yourself, as it so often is, then you have the ability to look at it in a more objective light. It is important to know what is stopping you from achieving your goals.
Knowing your conflict puts the power in your hands. I keep talking about power for a good reason. When we really get in touch with our own personal story, then the power is put back into our hands. we don’t have to give it away to a job or a partner or some experience from our pasts. We can have this power and we can use it to achieve our goals. It always comes back to the goal.
In the end, the three reasons to know our own personal stories are the same three things an author needs to know in order to craft a good novel: goal, motivation, and conflict. Once we have these things determined in our own mind, then like the author, we can move forward making our story the best one that we can tell.