Archeologists, Geologists, and other forms of Earth’s scientists have studied and outlined the creation of the Earth, placing their own interpretations with either a creationist or evolutionist point of view. Many individuals have created timelines of Earth’s development and changes over the many, many, millennias. As they keep track of the changes in Earth – both positive and negative shifts – and how its’ creatures have evolved and adapted, patterns and themes are then created, and prediction of future possibilities can be formed.
Something similar can be done in our own lives, with a simple timeline. In a sense, life is a timeline, and each one of our lives is unique to us and the environment we interact in on a daily basis. Each event or situation in our lives has helped shape us into who we are today. As part of the healing process, or spiritual/personal growth, it is beneficial to create one’s own Life Timeline. Creating a timeline of your life helps you identify themes that connect and cross into other events, and identify key achievements and growing opportunities. Creating a timeline of your life can be a way to express and explore your inner emotions so that you can better connect with those around you. It can be used as way to write your own life story, your unique story.
Check out this article for more detailed information on the benefits of making your Life’s Timeline: The Power of Creating a Timeline of Your Life’s Story
Here are the steps you can follow to create a timeline of your life, of your own personal story:
Phase 1: preparatory steps before getting started:
1. materials needed: markers, pen or pencil, notepad and legal size paper (or some format online or Microsoft Word if you prefer to create your timeline on the computer)
2. take at least 15 – 30 minutes to contemplate and jot down important events in life before organizing them into your outline (take time to brainstorm and really reflect on events, both negative and positive, in your life – from childhood and throughout adulthood)
3. place events in chronological order of your age at the time.
4. place “+” for over all positive events and “-“ over negative events. Then rate the over all positive or negative event on a scale from 1 to 10, low to high intensity.
Phase 2: Putting your timeline on paper
1. Take a legal size sheet of paper, and fold it in half along the horizontal axis. (If you use standard size paper, turn it to ‘landscape’.) [go here if you are creating your timeline in Microsoft word: Microsoft Word Timeline templates]
Below quote is a continuation of Phase 2 steps for creating your Timeline, from The Power of Creating a Timeline of Your Life’s Story:
“2. Draw a horizontal line along the horizontal axis [use drawing tool on Microsoft word to do this step on the comp if you choose]
3. Place a “+” sign on the top-right corner above the horizontal axis, to signify the positive events that you associate with pleasure.
4. Place a “-” sign on the bottom-right corner below the horizontal axis, to represent the events on your timeline associated with displeasure or stress.
5. Decide whether to put each of the events on your chronological list either above or below the horizontal axis of your timeline by marking each with a “+” or “-” sign.
6. Draw a dot on the horizontal axis of your timeline for each of the key events – allowing ample space between events so that they are spread across the axis from its left to right end points.
7. From each dot, draw a line for each event (either above or below the horizontal line), accordingly, and make the line as tall or short as its intensity based on its assigned numeric value. For legal or standard size paper, this equals about one-third inch for each interval on the scale, i.e., the length of a line assigned an intensity of 5 would equal about one and two-thirds inches.
8. Allow ample space as recording one event can trigger a memory of another.
9. Connect up the points that you have marked.
10. Remain open to adding events as you complete the timeline; it’s natural for one event to trigger a memory of another.”
An example of how the timeline may look is shown in the article.
Phase 3 – Deepen awareness of self and life
Once you have phase 1 and 2 finished to your liking, it is suggested to move even deeper into awareness of your self and life. Phase 3 is related to questions to ask your self in order to open space for deeper reflections based off the information provided in Phase 2. Growing awareness and reflection helps you become aware, more so than previously perhaps, in how certain events and key decisions influenced the direction of your life which helped internally create your present character you present to the external world.
Here are some bullet points to follow in this process of growing your awareness of self and life:
• “Identify any negative turns, big or small. Reflect on what you may have gained or learned. Consider any redemptive value and how this might have contributed value to your life.
• “Identify key decisions that, in retrospect, were fruitful. In each case, what made the choice effective? What positive results did it produce? How did you respond at the time (thoughts/feelings) to each decision/results? At what point did you know this decision was a ‘good’ one?
• “Identify choices that didn’t turn out well. In each case, what made this a poor choice? What were the costs? How did you respond to each (thoughts/feelings in response to choice/outcomes)? When did you conclude this to be a poor choice?
• “Which decision-making strategies work? Which do not?
• “What are key differences, and similarities, can you identify between the ‘strategies’ you’ve used to make decisions that are effective versus ineffective?
• “Look more closely, see if you can identify the ‘steps’ you take (patterns of thought/feeling/action) (think/feel/act) in executing effective strategies; do the same for the ineffective ones.
“Phase 3 questions can also be helpful in fostering mutual understanding and teamwork between partners in couple relationships, or a group of friends, extended family members, business associates, and so on.” The Power of Creating a Timeline of Your Life’s Story
Phase 4 – Create new understandings, shifts in meanings
Phase for is the reflection phase of your timeline. In this phase, look again at your timeline, and write down reflections and responses to some (or all) of the following questions:
• “What strikes you or stands out in looking over your timeline?
• “Can you identify any ‘stages’ or ‘turning points’ in your timeline?
• “Is your timeline crowded in some places and spacious in others? What does this mean (to you)?
• “Is there a ‘center’ or a central theme (or two) in your timeline and life, overall?
• “Can you identify a driving question in your mind that, consciously or subconsciously, has driven your actions and choices throughout life? If so, how did this shape you, your choices or events?
• “What were your most pressing emotional drives, or the primary reasons or purpose beneath your decisions?
• “Who are/were the most significant people in your life? How?
• “What are the milestones or markers associated with each stage? What does that mean (to you)?
• “Do milestones mostly involve people, accomplishments, events, etc?
• “Is there anything you’ve omitted or left out, i.e., people, accomplishments, events, etc.?
• “What if anything would you change or add, if you could? Also, how would each of these changes or additions affect your life, or even change its present course?
• “Considering your decision making strategies (Phase 3), what changes, if any, might further enhance your decision-making strategies, knowing what you know today?
• “How would your timeline be different had you drawn it in a different stage of your life?
• “How would other significant people in your life draw your timeline differently?
• “Continue to your future, where do you want to be in a year, 5 years, 10 years? What do you expect your future timeline will be. It helps to put it down on paper.
“Reflect on the value of these and similar questions, in opening space for new connections, shifts in meaning, gems of insight, wisdom and other food for thought.” The Power of Creating a Timeline of Your Life’s Story
Timeline of me (1990 – 2015)
Below is a beginning of my own Life Timeline. I wont go into detail about it, but here is an idea of how to start your own timeline if you are interested. This is the first step of my timeline. I used different colors depending on the level of intensity. I placed the arrow to the right for positive times in my life (+) and the arrow to the left for “negative” (-) times in life. Neutral to medium intensities were troubling times but manageable, based on my own interpretation and memories. Intensities were based on the 0 to 10 scale, from lowest to highest intensity:
• 1990 – 1994: Infant to toddler years + scale 7——->
• 1995: youngest brother born; moved to new home w/ family; began Kindergarten + scale 8——–>
• —–1998: parents separated; moved to new home w/ mother & siblings; – Scale 5
• 2000: new millennia, puberty begins + Scale 5—– [neutral]
• —–2003: elementary ends, middle school begins; interest in boys flourishes – scale 5
• 2005: high school begins, thoughts of future career develops. + scale 7——->
• 2007: spirit journey & begin creative writing begins; + Scale 8——–>
• 2008: outlines for novels develop; poetry writing begins + Scale 9 ———>
• 2009: graduated high school; future career flourish; college years begin + Scale 9———>
• 2010: sketching begins, new way of intuitive expression + Scale 9———>
• 2011: spirit journey continues to develop; began meditation + scale 5—–> [neutral]
• 2012: Graduated w/ A.A. in Psychology/Sociology; Begin Social Work program + scale 9 ———>
• 2013: first serious intimate relationship; learn what I want in life. + scale 9 ———>
• 2014: Graduated w/ BSW; career development begins; soul searching continues + scale 7 ——->
• 2015: yet to be written + scale undefined.