(#253) Bridging the Gap: The Stories We Tell Ourselves and the Stories We Live

Stories we tell ourselves vs. stories we actually live.
What stories are you telling yourself?

For years I’ve been using a professional and personal growth exercises with my students and audiences.

  • Start with one piece of paper and a pen or pencil.
  • Draw a line down the center of the page.
  • At the top of the left column write the word “VALUE” and at the top of the right column write the word “TIME.”
  • In the VALUE column list the three things that are the most valuable/the biggest priorities in your life right now. (You could do this with 5, 10 or more items.)
  • In the TIME column list the three things that take most of your time each week—not counting sleep.
  • The final step ends up being the eye-opener as I pose this question: When you look at what you say you value and how/where you actually use your time, do you see any disconnections?

I think you see the point of the exercise.  All of us can talk about what is important but when it comes to walking our talk, do our actions match what we say?

Image: tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: tiverylucky/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The VALUE column represents our intentions; the stories we tell ourselves about what is important.

The TIME column indicates the stories we actually live.

Inspired by Tony Schwartz’s book The Way We Are Working Isn’t Working, I have added a third column to the exercise. (I rolled this out in a reflective practice session with my faculty colleagues this week.)

Video recommendation for the week:

Go back to the two-column page and do the following:

  • In the VALUE column, rate how important in your life each item is. Use the scale of 1 (not particularly important) to 10 (extremely important).
  • In the TIME column, rate how much of week is devoted to this stated value/intention. Again, use the scale of 1 (nearly no time) to 10 (a great deal of time).
  • Label the third column THE GAP.
  • Subtract the number you wrote in column 2 from the number you wrote in column 1. This is your gap between intention and reality.

The bigger the gap, the more work you need to do.  The “work” could be a re-evaluation of what you actually value (as opposed to what you say you value). Or it could be a re-commitment to your stated priorities by re-arranging the way you spend your time. (Personally, I’d rather invest my time than spend it.)

One final note.  About six or seven years ago I did this exercise with a group of students.  One young woman became quite perturbed with the exercise.  When I talked with her, she announced to the class, “I don’t like your activity!”

When pressed as to why, she said her job took most of her time each week—and she hated her job. “According to you,” she said, “I should value my job.”

I said, “Then why don’t you quit.”

She informed me that was not possible as she was a single mother and needed the money for necessities of life.

After careful thought I offered that it appeared the job was indeed very valuable to her.  The exercise did not ask what she liked—but what she valued.  She was telling herself one story while living another story.

What stories are you telling yourself?

Make it a great week. And H.T.R.B. as needed.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment.

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars  (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

Information on my book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in assumptions, awareness, Balance, boundaries and limits, core values, creating your future, Integrity, Life's purpose, Mindfulness, self-efficacy, Words and Action and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to (#253) Bridging the Gap: The Stories We Tell Ourselves and the Stories We Live

  1. marianbeaman says:

    Ever the teacher . . . leaving a legacy. I like the graphics too!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: (#268) P.R.I.D.E for Student (Life) Success | Steve Piscitelli: Growth and Resilience

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