What’s your story arc?

With the nights drawing in a new TV season is upon us. There have been some great new series released; The Crown, Andor and of course, the finale of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here (don’t ask… ).

Yet with this new raft of entertainment also comes the specter of binge-watching TV.

Getting sucked in

It is all too easy to lose an evening watching a TV series. They seem to have really mastered the formula for compelling viewing… just one more episode, you say, only to turn around at 12:30 am to wonder just where the evening has gone and what exactly has been achieved (apart from learning more about N-S9 Starpath Units!).

It is a problem.

On sitting down you are of course looking forward to the episode, wondering what will happen and how will they resolve the situation from the end of the last episode… for it to be only set up again with a new cliffhanger… you are compelled to keep watching… go on just one more.. this is how you lose an entire evening!

A solution

But, I have a strategy! It is my 50-50 watching strategy, a solution to regain back control.

The realization was that you really do not have to watch an entire episode to the end… I can actually stop halfway through… it will be there tomorrow as it is not live TV (yes, it was a real thing, pre-VHS in the ’70s and ’80s and clearly engrained in my brain)!

By watching midpoint to midpoint, I found I can break the cycle. It means you get to watch both story cliffhanger and resolution each time, finish satisfied and avoid the next episode setup. If they have very episodic stories, for the most part, it works a treat.

Story arcs – for TV

All of this got me thinking about series, plots, and in particular their story arcs. Most series, it seems, are written with multiple arcs;

  • One within the episode itself – it has a start, an end, fulfilling in itself
  • One across multiple episodes – this is what compels us to watch the next episode
  • One across the season – An underlying story that keeps us engaged across the season
  • One across the entire series – a wider story arc tying it all together into a bigger narrative.

We all know of shows which have been wildly popular, yet run out of road, yet others just keep on going.

A series can survive episode to episode, or even for a season, without a longer story arc. But to be really successful all elements are needed, to keep you engaged and coming back for more.

Story arcs – for life and work

And, much of this is an analogy for our own lives, careers and businesses too. We all have our narratives and story arcs ourselves…

  • Short ones: the mystery of what’s for lunch, taking a break and how to relax
  • Medium ones: looking forward to events and conferences, holidays, striving to meet your annual goals or targets
  • Long-term: Completing qualifications, buying a house, building a family, owning a business, international expansion
  • Longest term: Lifetime achievements

And, we all play leading, A-lister, roles in these stories too.

Why this is important

Yet with the end of the pandemic, changes to the economy, the energy market, and international unrest, it does feel as if we are at a moment where multi-story arcs are finishing.

Of course, there are still things to look forward to, but they are short or medium-term, long term is seemingly harder at the moment, in such an uncertain world.

Yet, as we have seen from the world of TV, having those longer-term plans is so important. They keep us engaged, interested and motivated, striving to do more. We need to create a compelling series for our lives and businesses, not just to survive for another season, but to thrive to the end of the entire series.

So, despite the uncertainty, it feels like maybe it is time to put pen to paper to create some new storylines, plot new ways of doing things and refresh the longer-term outlook… after all what is the wider story you want to tell and your business achieve?

And, the good news… this is something you can do in front of TV…!

Have a good week everyone.

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