Working on a story recently, I had to remember the year I had taken a particular overseas trip. Since I couldn’t recall the exact year easily, I decided to type up a few notes.
The end result, by the time I had finished was a personal timeline overview of my life so far.
All I did was make up a simple three column table. In the first column I typed in each year since I was born. The second column was for my age that year and the last wider column was a bullet point list of significant events that happened during the year.
The bullet point list included which company I was working for at the time, where I was living, who I was living with, who I was dating or involved with, what overseas trips I had taken, significant birth and deaths, family and personal milestones etc. Anything that was important to my life at the time.
Trying to remember a random date turned into an interesting and thought-provoking exercise. When you look at the highlights (and low points) of your life spread out over a couple of A4 pages, it can be quite a revelation.
So how did I feel looking over my completed list of life events? Well that turned out to be the point of the whole exercise.
It bought up a lot of different feelings and emotions.
I smiled and laughed out loud as I read some items, felt great sadness at others. I realized with equal parts of awe and fear just how quickly one year can pass by and how precious and valuable each year is.
It came as a surprise to realize that some events that felt like they happened a ‘couple of years’ ago were more like ten years. I felt moments of total joy and feelings of accomplishment and pride. There were also pangs of disappointment and yes the odd feeling of regret along the way.
There were plenty of ‘what the hell was I thinking’ moments. More than I would care to admit to in fact.
I now view them as symbols of how much I have learnt and grown and not just stupid mistakes. Some of those ‘mistakes’ also led to the most significant and joyful parts of my life.
Giving your memory a good work out is another positive aspect of this exercise. For me there were a lot of ‘I had forgotten about that’ fabulous moments.
My list is a private and personal. Though I am talking about the list here, I certainly won’t be showing it to anyone. It is something just for me.
Just to be clear this is not a time for wallowing and getting bogged down in the past, quite the opposite actually.
It is a stepping stone to the future.
For me personally, it was about the amazing experiences both good and bad I have had along the way and understanding how they all contribute to helping me achieve my goals and dreams today and tomorrow.
I hope you try this exercise and do up your own personal timeline.
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