The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Five Questions

Who, Why, How, When, Where?

Everyone who ever took a journalism class (or saw a movie about journalism) has heard these: the basic information necessary to write a story. Since the "Lifewriting" method asks us to write our own Future History in advance, it is valuable to ask: do you know these five questions about each goal in your life?

1) WHAT: Have at least one goal in each of your four major life areas: body, mind, relationships and finances. Specificity has power. The goal should be photographable, tangible. In other words, if you say "improve my relationship" that is mushy. Say "have a second honeymoon in Maui" and suddenly you have specificity. But in brainstorming, prepare to be flexible: "you can have anything you want if you let go of how it's supposed to look." No, you can't flap your wings and fly off the edge of a building...unless you have a hang-glider.

2) WHY: You need reasons. Whenever people fail to reach a goal, or are lost in a position of poor fitness or sloppy finances, invariably their reasons for achievement are weak. They may have one or two thin motivations, but nothing to keep them going through the Dark Night of the Soul. And there WILL be a dark night of the soul, absolutely. It is idiocy not to anticipate the @#$$ hitting the fan, when you've seen it countless times in your own personal history. If you have 2 or three reasons, you'll fail. If you have 20 or 30 reasons, so powerful that when you read them you feel your juices rising, NOW you have leverage.

3) WHERE: Where do you have to go to get the resources you will need to bridge the gap between where you are and where you need to be?

4) WHO: Who are the allies and role models you need to achieve your goal? The safest bet is that IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE IT, YOU CAN'T DO IT WITH YOUR CURRENT RESOURCES. You will need to grow, and change. Change believes and re-organize values to reflect your current life and vision of the future. You will need help. The "Mastermind" technique is the ONLY known way to compensate for lack of talent or even intelligence. It demands that you bond yourself to people with the skills you don't have. How? Here's a hint: smart people need friends too. Offer genuine loyalty, honesty, open-hearted support in exchange for advice and support. Offer value in exchange for value. And keep asking until you find someone to say "yes."

5) WHEN: A goal without a deadline is just a pipe dream. You need to know when this seismic shift in your existence will take place. A date. And by studying role models who have accomplished similar goals you will gain the perspective needed to Time-bind your intentions. "There are no unreasonable goals, only unreasonable time frames." People who want to lose five pounds a week are probably going to fail, or get sick. One pound a week is perfectly doable.

Who, what, where, why, when. Write the story of YOUR life. Be the Hero in the Adventure of your lifetime!

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