Your Life as a Story: A Review of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years

Ryan Eidson  —  June 18, 2014

Have you ever thought of your life as an unfolding story? In Donald Miller’s 2009 release, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life, you quickly discover that you can change the course of your story, overcome conflict, and get to a new place.

Many people do want to live a “better” story. They want more time at home, a less stressful job, and a greater impact on the world around them. They want something different.


Image source flickr user: Auntie P | cc

You want something different with your life.

Yet you get tripped up over and over. Why?

Donald Miller’s Definition of Story

Miller says (in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years) that the essence of a story is a character who wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.

A character – That’s you.

Who wants something – What is it that you really want? What are you pursuing?

And overcomes conflict – You trip, fall on your face, and make sideways progress. You fall again, this time backwards. And you feel like you’ll never gain any steps forward.

To get it – You never “get it” because you’re afraid of what will change in your life when you actually do achieve your goals. You’re scared because when your dreams come true, you’ll be living in a whole new world.

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, and it’s like that with life. People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.

“People fear change…Though their situations may be terrible, at least they have a sense of control; at least they know what to expect. Change presents a world of variables that are largely out of their control.—A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, p. 99-101 (emphasis mine)

Maybe you’ve felt like you’ll never make it. Perhaps you’re scared to take the first step.

Or, you have taken the first step, but you step back because you have a fear of success. The fear of actually pulling it off holds you back.

Beware of the Easy Life

Recognize conflict when it comes. Work through it. See conflict for the character-building process that it is.

“I realized how much of our lives are spent trying to avoid conflict. Half the commercials on TV are selling us something that will make life easier. Part of me wonders if our stories aren’t being stolen by the easy life.” —A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, p. 186

If you never endure conflict or persevere through it, will your story mean anything? Share in the comments below.

amillionmilesinathousandyears-bookcoverHave You Read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years?

Pick up your copy of the book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

It’s a great book and I highly recommend it to you!



Ryan Eidson


I have the unique ability to make complex ideas easy to understand. I am the author of A Couple with Common Cents and live in rural Missouri.
  • strive4impact

    Beware the easy life… This reminds me of the phrase… If it’s easy, it’s probably sleazy.

    On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with designing a life that ultimately ends up making an easy life for you. It just takes work to get there.

    Thanks for the awesome reminders Ryan!


    • You’re welcome, Jonathan. Thanks for checking out the blog.