Lifeline Exercise

Our usual advice is to live in the moment, be in the NOW, and don’t get hung up on the past and the future. Sometimes though, it can be useful to review your personal history and reflect upon where you have been and where you might be going. This Lifeline Exercise can help you reflect upon significant events in your life and may enable you to create a more integrated sense of your life. Patterns may emerge that help you understand yourself better. It also invites you to examine beliefs you may have about your future that deserve to be challenged



Get a large piece of paper, or tape together several sheets of paper to give yourself plenty of room to create your lifeline. Make a timeline for your life, running the length of the paper, beginning with your birth and ending with the age when you expect you might die.

Mark off the years in between. Along the line, add a brief description of significant events in your life.

Draw a mood line to show how happy you were at the different times of your life. Draw the line above your timeline to show your level of happiness and below the timeline to show unhappiness.

Note where you are on the timeline now. Think ahead. Where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing in the future?

In thinking about when your life might end, consider what factors make you think about the end the way you do. These might include family history, fears of old age, fears of death, or assumptions you made as a youngster. People often sell themselves short in terms of expected longevity. Do your assumptions deserve to be challenged?

Variation: Do this exercise with timelines for different aspects of your life. For instance, make a spiritual timeline detailing influences, people you met or events that took place that affected your spiritual life.  You can do the same for intellectual, health, social, family or career aspects of your life looking at events that have helped form you as you are now.


Copyright Note:  This Lifeline Exercise came to us in a form that appeared to be in the public domain. If the exercise is copyrighted we would be pleased to comply with requirements.

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© 2004 Tom Barrett