How to Create a Personal Timeline

Each one of us has a personal timeline that began the moment we were born. This timeline consists of highs and lows represented by the positive and negative experiences we have had.

Putting this timeline on paper is an excellent way to record your life cycle, events and trends.

It enables you to see vital information about your past life, helps to recognize achievements that have been made, and creates a sense of purpose for the future. To create your personal timeline, take the following steps.

Map your life cycle in your personal journal. Divide your life into 3 segments by taking your current age and dividing it into thirds. For example, if you are 30 years old, the first third would be from birth to age 10; the second third from age 11 to age 20, and the final third from age 21 to 30 (your current age).

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Choose 3-5 important lifestyle events in each third of your life. Think of all the important events that happened and the major decisions you made in each third of your life. For example, include the people who influenced you at various stages, traumatic events, illnesses and major transitions. Write a detailed list of these events and any significant positive or negative milestones.

Start first with the earliest lifestyle event you remember and move forward into the present. If major events don't come readily to mind; begin with what you do remember; then go back and fill in the details. For each lifestyle event you will need to record the date, and summarize it in a few words. Don't worry about filling up the spaces. Leave room for memories to emerge.

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Scroll down to the Resources section and download the Personal Timeline Excel Worksheet. This personal timeline template is easy to customize and use.

a) Plot the positive life events and decisions on top of the horizontal line and the negative life events and decisions on the bottom.

b) To move the entire timeline up or down on the page, delete or insert rows above the timeline title.

c) To move a text box, click the box and drag it to the new location.

d) To move a connector line, click the line and drag the yellow diamond to the new location.

e) To change a date on the timeline, click the cell that contains the date and type the new date.

Remember it's important to keep the events in your timeline in the correct order. Complete it as things actually happened over the course of your life. Past lifestyle events can be hard to bring up and face, but doing this can release old hurts and fears.

Don't expect to finish your personal timeline in one sitting. Take your time. Update it as new life events happen. Your personal timeline shouldn't be just about the past; make it a living document that grows over the course of your life.

Write life events in the present time that you want to make happen in the future. Example: include your dreams, hopes, aspirations and future goals.

Keep your personal timeline private and don't be afraid to write your thoughts.