Do ever think about your descendants?
These are your relatives – the people who will live after you are no longer here.
Will they know what your life was like? What mattered to you? What you believed in?
Will they know what inspired you? What successes you had? What setbacks you had?
Recently I had a big realization.
My descendants will not know my life story unless I recorded it for them.
In my heart, I want them to know my life mattered.
And, I want to matter to them.
I also knew in my heart that I had to do this before I forget what has happened in my life.
When I thought about recording my life story it all felt daunting at first. All sorts of questions came up like:
- What will I say – and not say?
- What medium will I use? Will I handwrite it? Type? Video? Draw? Paint?
- What type of technology will still be relevant 100 or 200 years from now?
- How long will it take to do?
- How will I remember what I need to remember?
Then, I approached it like a project, created a purpose, broke it down into steps and just did it.
In this article I will teach you how to make your own life story.
Why? Because you and your life matter.
Learn more about this article in this short video:
And, here’s the rest of the article in written form:
Use these 6 steps to record your own life story:
1. Ask yourself WHY you’d want to do it.
Getting my own life story on paper did not happen overnight. I worked on it in chunks of one or two hours at a time, over a two week period. I treated it like a project and figured out my purpose for doing it before even starting.
If you want to record your own life story now while you remember it, you’ve got to know your WHY. Know your why and be sold on it yourself before even starting – otherwise you could risk getting halfway and giving up.
Your why is unique to you. Why would you want your children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren to know about your life? Or if you don’t have children, why would you want the ancestors of people you care about – maybe your nieces and nephews – to know what mattered to you?
Why bother recording your life story in the first place?
In my case, my why is woven into this poem:
My Descendants by Nadine Nicholson
I sit here, 40 years old.
Thinking about my descendants,
Who are yet to be born.
I feel some sadness,
Because some I’ll never meet,
They will arrive after I die.
Yet truly I will know all,
Each carries a piece of me,
Because of me they were born.
My dream for them
Is to trust their real person,
The one in their hearts, in their power.
My dream for them
Is to live moment by moment,
My dream of them is to dream.
I have a deep love for you,
I have a deep gratitude for you,
Here is my life.
2. Choose a medium.
Once you know why you want to record your life story, choose the medium in which you’d like to record it. Will you buy a beautiful journal and handwrite your thoughts? Will you type out your thoughts and print a small book? Will you include photos? Will you record a video? Will you draw it? Will you paint it? Keep in mind, your medium needs to stand the test of time. Personally, I like the low tech approach.
I bought a coil-bound, acid free sketch book and wrote my story by hand. Just like your why, your medium to record your life story is unique to you. Pick one you love and go with it.
3. Collect your records.
It is useful to have at your fingertips photos, journals or any other life records to help you easily recollect the experiences in your life. So, take an hour and collect what you have and look through these documents so you know what’s there.
4. Write an outline.
First, divide your life into decades: 0-9 years old, 10-19 years old, 20-29 years old, 30-39 years old, 40-49 years old and so on depending on your age. Then, for each decade write a few thoughts for each of these 10 questions:
- What activities was I engaged in?
- Where were some memorable moments?
- Where was I spending my time?
- Who were key people in my life at that time – who influenced me?
- What mattered most to me? What did I care about?
- What inspired me?
- What made me happy?
- What were my greatest successes?
- What setbacks, disappointments or setbacks did I experience?
- What other memories do I have from this decade?
You can change any of these questions or make up new ones. And if you don’t remember your earliest years, ask someone who knew you back then to help you – maybe a parent or an aunt or uncle.
5. Record your life story, decade by decade.
In the medium you chose, record your story for each decade. There are a number of ways you can do this.
For example, you could weave your memories for that decade into one story. You could draw a story board on canvas, chronologically. Or you could start by writing a summary page or two (kind of like an executive summary) and then answer each of the above questions. I chose the latter strategy and found it was easiest to complete an entire decade in one sitting.
6. Decide how you’ll maintain your life story.
Once you’re caught up to present time, think about how you’ll maintain your life story. Will you answer these questions year by year from this point forward? Will you keep a separate journal of your daily or weekly experiences and then summarize the next decade when you get to that point? Will you create a new record from this point on? And, decide where you’ll store your life story. I store mine in a fire proof safe along with other precious documents.
It’s Your Turn.
What’s your WHY? Why would you bother recording your life story? Your why matters and is unique to you. Write a comment below sharing why you’d want to bother recording your life story. Be as specific as you can.