Plan Your Future
Review Your Life Story
A life line is a tool to help you make better decisions as you move ahead in your career and in life in general. This line represents life divided into three major parts: from birth to the present, present to death, and time after death. The first objective is to review the past. Why not make notes as things come to mind, then spend some time alone thinking about significant events in your life and writing them down. Use two columns and write positives in one and negatives in the other column. Positive events may be a pay raise, graduation, or mastering a new game. Negative events might be a fight you had that left you with some resentment, loss of a loved one, or not getting a promotion you thought you deserved. Most of us carry around some hard feelings that hold us back but do no harm to the person that we resent or even hate. Hate is a very strong emotion that effects us physically as well as emotionally. It is good to identify such feelings and work toward letting them go. It can take some time to think back and uncover those positive and negative events or situations, but doing so can have a huge effect on your life from now on if you take action.
Think About Your Future
The next step is to consider the future as you look for that person you want to become in five years, to be yourself. What will you carry forward from your past and possibly build upon it. What makes you happy? What talents have you uncovered? You might have been taking art lessons that you enjoyed. As a result of completing a life line exercise you may decide to get serious about becoming a respected artist and selling your work. You could decide to let go of resentments you are harboring and find that you are happier and have more energy. Try it.
In the space between now and death other significant events will take place. Such events might involve aging parents, graduation, promotion, birth or death of a loved one, or maybe moving back to your parents house to save money. Even though you may be standing on your own, you may have other responsibilities. Ask yourself: To what extent do past events and situations influence my choices today? What direction is my life taking? What changes do I need to make to become that person I want to be five years from now?
Life After Death
Extending the life line to some years past your death challenges you to consider your legacy. A legacy does not have to be property or money left in a will or trust. It can be a body of work. A student in one of my “How to Reinvent Yourself” seminars in Santa Monica, CA was a wealthy, award-winning, independent film maker, director, and actor. Sometime after the seminar, during the course of a discussion, he said that the idea of his legacy was the most important take-away from that seminar. He has five children and the types of movies he was making, sex and violence, were not what he wanted his children to remember him by. The seminar changed his life to an extent. He began to teach others the movie production and distribution craft and was sensitive to the type of projects he selected. What will be your legacy? It could be money and property or cleaning up the neighborhood. As the author Stephen Covey advised, “Begin with the end in mind,” in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People While you are thinking about your future and your desire to be yourself, think all the way through to your legacy.
Look at Your Personal Rule Book
Reflecting on the life line exercise you may discover how certain values have influenced your life. Values are the criteria by which we evaluate our behavior and the behavior of others. They are the things that anchor us in this world and give us parameters within which we operate. Our values are the qualities we feel make life worth living. They influence key aspects of our lives, such as personal satisfaction, major decisions and life goals. Is honesty important to you? Are personal discipline, integrity, loyalty, financial independence, family and community important? What about belief in yourself, loving relationships with others, and a higher power? Are they important to you? Take a moment to make a list of your values. Ask yourself, “What do I stand for?” Try to surface the values you are not likely to change, your core values.
Now think about your life and the choices you have made. Do these reflect what you value most in life? A look at your values can help you predict your future. The choices you make in the future will probably be guided by those same values, unless you consciously decide to begin to adopt new values.
The life line exercise can take as long as you like. Your future is worth all the time you can give to seriously thinking about it. In the next stage we address the future you. What do you want your life to look like five years from now? Please let me know if you found this helpful.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is based on years of study and experience. I am not a licensed therapist or psychologist. If in the process of doing this exercise you find serious things that cause you anxiety, please seek help. Your local college or government health agency can recommend a professional.
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