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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Why and How to Write Your Story

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

The words Your story matters are written on a napkin. A mug and pen sit nearby.

What is the value of writing your story?

As a communicator and a leader, more than you may realize…

As a communicator, what and how you communicate is unique to you, based on your experiences and interests. Your story defines your signature communication style.

As a leader, the experiences that comprise your unique story will not only impact how you lead others, but how you lead yourself to further learning and growth. Sharing your story can inspire those you lead.

What are our stories? How do we discover them?

For most of us, we will discover our stories through self-reflection. We may have scrapbooks and photo albums and yearbooks and other pieces of recorded history, but most of our stories will be recalled through answering a series of questions that prompt meaningful reflection.

Let's consider why stories are important and how to record them so they may be a benefit to ourselves and others.

Why write our stories? What can they teach us?

Our stories can teach us much about ourselves, even how we communicate most effectively. As we take time to reflect on the experiences that have shaped us, consider how our stories help us realize who our ideal audiences are, show us the messages we are committed to sharing, and identify the channels we use most effectively.

Why is reflection a useful practice?

Jennifer Porter describes the importance of self-reflection in an article titled “Why You Should Make Time for Self-Reflection (Even If You Hate Doing It)” in Harvard Business Review:

“At its simplest, reflection is about careful thought. But the kind of reflection that is really valuable to leaders is more nuanced than that. The most useful reflection involves the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions. For leaders, this “meaning making” is crucial to their ongoing growth and development.

Reflection reminds us of who we are, why we do what we do, who we serve, and how we can achieve our purpose in the world.

Writing down our reflections is powerful. It forces us to find meaning in our life experiences; making connections between them, expressing them with clarity, and providing a permanent record for ourselves and others.

How can I write my story?

I have created a writing prompt for nutrition communicators to craft their story and share it with others. Adapt it to fit your situation…

“Once upon a time…”

You will begin writing your story by reflecting on what has led you to where you are now. But you will not stop there. Your story is not finished. You will also consider what you want to include in the chapters yet to be written. Let’s get started…

Questions for reflection

Allow the questions that follow to inspire and organize your thinking, but don’t feel constrained by them. Brainstorm your ideas and answers to each question and then summarize your thoughts in just a few sentences per area. Suggested phrases are provided to begin your summaries, but feel free to write your own opening phrases to best tell your story.

1. When did you first have the idea that you wanted to become a nutrition professional? What led you to pursue this career?

I was inspired to become a nutrition professional because… My interest in becoming a nutrition professional began when…

Many things influenced my decision to become a nutrition professional…

2. Everyone eats, so everyone is a potential audience for nutrition information and services. What audiences are you most drawn to? Why do you want to reach these audiences? What experiences with these audiences have caused them to be your preferred audiences?

I am drawn to working with because…

The audience I believe I am best suited to help is because…

My experiences working with have made them my preferred audience because…

3. The subject matter that we gravitate to is part of our signature style. What topic areas are you drawn to learn about and communicate with others? What personal and professional experiences have led you to these interests?

I feel competent to communicate about because… I love to teach others about because…

A variety of experiences have given me insight into that I feel can be helpful to others…

4. Each of us has unique skills and talents that we can use to deliver our messages to others with competence and creativity. What activities do you gravitate toward? When do you feel in your “sweet spot”? What do others ask you to help with because of your expertise? What communication channels do you have the most knowledge and experience with?

My favorite approaches to communicating or providing services include…

I feel energized and creative when I…

My signature style could be described as because…

5. How have you used nutrition communication knowledge and skills to be effective in your work? Describe an example of how being audience-centered, evidence-based, creative, clear, organized, etc. has helped you achieve your desired outcomes as a nutrition communicator:

I realized the importance of when I … I achieved when I implemented ….

When I took the time to I was able to ….

6. In what areas are you interested in building your communication knowledge, skills, and confidence? What is something you hope to accomplish as a nutrition communicator? Is there something new you would like to try? What direction would you like your career to take? What would you like your next chapter to look like?

I need to learn more about…

I would like to become better at …

I would like to try…

Now it’s time to put it all together… Write your story. Share your story.

Compile the sentences that you wrote to summarize each area and rework them into a story that illustrates why you do what you do, what you do best, and what you aspire to do in the future. Please share your story to be an inspiration to others. Submit to along with a photo, and it will be added to the “Our Community” page. Include your social media links to help others connect with you.

“Stories are a communal currency of humanity.” ~ Tahir Shah

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