The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.
–Orison Swett Marden, 1850-1924
Founder of Success Magazine in 1897
Do a Lifeline Exercise
A lifeline exercise that is frequently used in career planning and management might be useful here to “see” graphically how your life looks, to gain insight into your world view, to chart relationship patterns, and to consider your legacy.
The usual lifeline extends from birth to death. However, in many cultures, subtler perhaps in the western world, the family and community discuss, predict, and plan the child’s career well before his or her birth. Acknowledging this reality and addressing it will help us separate a personal vision from that of our family or community. This is not always an easy or comfortable task. We see this influence in some military families with several generations of military leaders. The first-born, particularly, senses some expectation that he or she will follow the family tradition.
What are we REALLY working toward?
Extending the lifeline to some years past our death challenges us to consider our legacy. What do we hope to leave? What contribution do we wish to make? Donna Holley has used this exercise with undergraduate and graduate business students. “It is a useful tool for students to see what work life has been for them and to chart their dreams and dreads about their career into the future.”
Expand the scope of this exercise and consider life in general. A model is provided for your use. There isn’t enough space here, but why not make notes for yourself. Note significant events of your life and chart them using Donna Holley’s model. Events considered positive are usually noted above the line and those considered difficult or negative below the line between birth and now. Then consider the future by predicting significant events that will take place between now and death. Such events might involve aging parents, graduation, promotion, birth, death of a loved one, and so on. Then look at your legacy. What will people be saying about you after you pass away?
conception birth now death years after
Ask yourself: To what extent do past events influence my choices today? What direction is my life taking? What influences my choices?
Some people die at twenty-five and are not buried until they are seventy-five.
Review Your Life Story
Using the lifeline will make it easier to look at your recent past. What have you accomplished? Look for experiences that might reveal successes in the types of things you will be attempting in the future. Make a list. This will indicate some of your strengths.
What do you need to improve upon with more education or experience? Perhaps you should take an aptitude test or a preference test, which would indicate a natural leaning toward some activity. It is easier to achieve in areas where you have a head start with natural ability.
Examine your current situation. What will you accomplish this year if you keep doing what you are now doing? Look for trends. How will that help you realize your dream? What if you do nothing differently, that is, you do not have the time, energy or money to do anything else? What if you decided now to take charge of your life by taking responsibility for how it turns out?
Look at Your Personal Rule Book
Reflect upon 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 lifeline exercise will give you a snapshot of where you are now. It will show some of the events that have shaped who you are, and may encourage you to let go of things that are blocking your progress. Looking to the future, you can see some things that are likely to happen. Using the lifeline exercise will help making choices easier and more productive as you begin to develop a plan for your future.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]
When your values are clear to you,
Making decisions becomes easier.