A life shift is defined as a moment or event that takes place after which you or your character will never be the same. A life shift is something that changes your life, your values or your worldview. A life shift can can be a positive or negative experience. For example, life shifts for people can be getting married, having kids, going on a mission trip, losing a job or losing a loved one. Some people may call life shifts turning points. But, I feel the phrase “turning point” makes it sound more extreme than a life shift could be. Sometimes life shifts are subtle. It could be a decision to quit something, to start a new habit or a conversation with a friend or loved one.
In my Discover Your Story Workshop, life shifts are key to understanding the theme of your story and where you see God and redemption in your life. I have participants spend time identifying the life shifts and rating them on a scale from -10 to +10. This exercise gets people thinking critically about the moments which shaped their life. Many times, especially if you let the idea of life shifts resonate for a few days, you may discover a few life shifts that surprise you or see a pattern in your life you didn’t expect.
If you are writing fiction, whether it is a short story, a serial or a novel, life shifts are just as important. You need to know when your character experiences something that forces change and transformation. You need to know what triggers your characters into a negative spiral or positive action. Sometimes you may not know all of the life shifts for a character until you start writing and getting into the story. But, I find it helpful to keep an ongoing list as you write to keep track and to ensure your character’s actions and reactions make sense.