May 6, 2021

Everything you’ve done up until now is just the beginning


Swingers, the classic nineties comedy that captured a generation of people down on their luck, has a monologue that still resonates with me today.

Mike struggles to recover from his failed relationship, and his best friend lectures him about moving on:

Sometimes is still hurts. Each day you think about it less and less. And then one day you wake up and you don’t think of it at all, and you almost miss that feeling. It’s kind of weird. You miss the pain because it was part of your life for so long. And then, boom, something reminds you of it, and you just smile that bittersweet smile. You miss the pain just like you miss the girl, because you lived with it so long.

These words are a reminder that we have a choice. We can view the past as a crutch to lean back on, or a fulcrum to propel us forward. It all depends on the story we tell ourselves.

Here’s the leverage question that’s been useful to me:

If everything you’ve done up until now is just the beginning, what’s next?

The sense of possibility here is palpable. This question is pure mythology, suggesting that there might be a narrative pattern that give significance to our existence.

The best part is, when we frame our experiences as, oh, we’re just getting started, it doesn’t dishonor the past, rather, expresses gratitude that it brought us here, and uses it as a jumping off point.

Shakespeare’s mantra comes to mind: What’s past is prologue.

It means that what happened before has led us to our current opportunity. History sets the context for the present. The stage is set, the next act is queued up and ready go, and our destinies are of our own making.

It’s a comforting and encouraging narrative about failure and rejection. Because the past can only continue to hurt us if we allow it to. But through the sheer power of leverage, we can surge into the present opportunity with a buoyant sense of liberation. Trusting that the person we’ve become along the way is exactly what we need to move our story forward.

Sound too grandiose and dramatic for your liking? That’s fair. Not everyone is comfortable being the hero of their own story, or even thinking of their life as a story in the first place.

But what you’ll find is, the process of establishing the myth of your life as a major creative act, can take you from down your luck to a step in the right direction.

How will you convince yourself that a new and glorious future is stretching out before you?