How to live your life like a protagonist

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Do you live your life like a protagonist? I know I often don’t.

But, recently I have been obsessed with movie screenwriting and creating great characters. So when I watched a Youtube video about creating a great protagonist I was inspired to create an article about using some of these principles in life.

There is a reason why we spend lots of time in front of TV watching some of our favorite characters adventures. I also think we can learn a lot from them.

So how do you become a great protagonist in real life?


Show, don’t tell

If you want your audience to connect with the character you need to give them context about who the character is. This way anything that character does has more meaning since we know where it’s coming from.
Lots of screenwriters make a mistake of fumbling this part because they tell the story through lazy tools or give the character a background that he doesn’t live up to. A proper way to do this is to show the audience who the character is through simple everyday things that define them as a person.

How do you use this in your life?
You are defined by your actions, not by your words. People tell a lot of different stories about themselves that they want others to believe but often their actions don’t reflect these stories. Instead of telling other people about things you plan to do or things you believe in, start with action and let them come to conclusion themselves. When you show people what you are capable of it becomes harder for them to doubt you.


Pursue a goal

Batman wanted a peaceful Gotham, Gatsby wanted Daisy and Frodo wanted to destroy the ring
Every great character has a goal that pushes him through rough times and moments of weakness. Humans love the idea of a timeline that has a clear start and end. Movies also have a timeline: we meet a character, he encounters something that puts him on a different path, he accepts the adventure, fights the obstacles until he reaches the conclusion. Endings can be happy or sad but one thing is sure, we want to take a journey to discover what lies at the end of the road.

How do you use this in your life?
One thing I truly believe is that normal human is incapable of spending a lifetime without challenging status quo. That’s what made us evolve and that’s what helps us progress today. If you want to be the protagonist of your life you better start going down that road you always wanted. One day you will be old and when you watch a movie of your life if there is no story arch you might end up disappointed.


Be an active protagonist

Greatest protagonists are those that move things around and force the world to react to them. Characters that move the plot are the characters that get remembered and admired. That’s why history best remembers heroes, dictators, revolutionaries and inventors. Some of them were good, some were bad but none of them accepted the normal course of life. They made the action, stirred the water and forced the universe to throw something else at them. And they repeated the same thing until they started getting what they wanted.

How do you use this in your life?
If you want to do everything “by the book” and wait for something magical to happen you might be disappointed. People don’t notice people that are same as everyone. They notice those that are genuine and passionate, those that are not afraid to try something uncomfortable. So start making those moves, invest in things you want and change your way of doing things. If you continue to poke at the universe it will throw something at your lap that will make your character journey much more exciting.


Have a flaw

The big thing about movie protagonists is their ability to overcome obstacles. Most of the top rated movies of all time had a protagonist that had flaws and obstacles that prevented them from reaching success. These flaws are also the reason why we relate to them. Everyone has some flaws and obstacles and when we see a perfect character in a perfect world we tend to perceive it as unrealistic. Flaws also make us invested in character since we want to see if he can beat them, and once he does we feel fulfilled and ready to take on our own flaws.

How do you use this in your life?
It all starts with being honest with yourself and open about your flaws. One of the hardest things about our flaws is recognizing them. It’s hard to tell yourself that you are imperfect and that you have flaws. But I think that self-love can exist with self-improvement so work on those imperfections and sculpt yourself into the best version of your character. There is a great satisfaction in continuous progress towards the kind of person you imagine yourself to be.


So these are some of the ideas about how you can become a protagonist in your life.

What do you think of them?

Do you have some other ideas? Share them in comments! :)