Throw Yourself a Lifeline!

You are creating the person you will become by the way you
envision that person, the goals you set, and the actions you
take. By exercising your free will and consciously making
choices, you become co-creator with the Maker of all things.

Do you want to go to graduate school or take fun courses? Do
you get involved in social work or climb the social ladder?
These are not right or wrong or even mutually exclusive
decisions, but they do lead in different directions.

A lifeline exercise that is frequently used in career
planning and management might be useful to “see” how your
life looks, to gain insight into your world view, to chart
relationship patterns, and to consider your future.

The usual lifeline is a line that extends from birth to
death. However, in many cultures, more subtle perhaps in the
western world, a career is discussed, predicted, and planned by
family and community well before the birth of the child.
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 firstborn,
particularly, senses some expectation that he or she will
follow the family tradition.

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, what are we
REALLY working toward? 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 in my book, Take charge of Your Life:
Dare to Pursue Your Dreams.) Identify significant events of
your life and note them. Events considered “positive” are
usually written above the line and those considered
difficult or “negative” are below the line. Then consider the
future by predicting significant events that will take place
between now and some years (perhaps ten) after your death.
Such events might involve aging parents, graduation,
promotion, birth, death of a loved one, and so on.

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 to make choices easier and more
productive as you begin to develop a plan for your future.

Jo Condrill is a best-selling author, consultant, and professional speaker. Her book Take Charge of Your Life: Dare to Pursue Your Dreams presents a process for making life work the way you want it to. It’s a great resource for developing your New Year’s Resolutions and goal setting. []


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