If you want to find out what you’re good at or what you need to do in times of change, the lifeline exercise might help you.
The exercise is very simple, you just need to take time for it. In essence you will review key events in your life. These can be the graduation from high school, the start of a new relationship, a new job or the loss of a loved one. Events which gave you an immense amount of joy, self-assurance and disappointment, sadness or frustration.
The lifeline is a graph. The horizontal axis stands for time. This can be the years or your age. I would recommend you to start with the year or your age of graduation. Psychologists would ask you to start from age 8. From that age you are presumed to have conscious memories. If you have significant events starting at age 8, I invite you to note these down as well. The vertical axis represents energy and can be high (positive) or low (negative) depending on your experience of the event. On the graph, enter different key events in your life and rate them according to energy. For each event write down what activity or activities you were performing, with whom and where. If necessary write these aspects on a different sheet of paper. The next step is to connect the key events in your life. This will result in a graph, the lifeline.
In Jane’s (fictional) lifeline below, a key event was the completion of the building of her house. At the time she was with her husband, a contractor and the architect in Birmingham, UK. Some of her activities included explaining a vision to the architect, convincing the authorities to grant a building permit and a great number of meetings with the contractor.
Another key event was being fired from the accounting company were she’d been working for over than 10 years. The company in London was not doing well due to several lawsuits. That period was extremely stressful as she had no idea what was expected of her and were the company was heading. At some point she and her colleagues were running in one direction and later they were running in an opposite direction.
The lifeline can help you to identify what activities you enjoy doing, give you energy and what you’re good at. Also it can tell you with what kind of people (and where) you need to be to perform best. This is particularly helpful when in times of distress or low energy. In Jane’s example she needs an environment where she can communicate clearly with different parties and have a clear vision of her goals.
On the other hand, the lifeline can warn you what situations, environments or activities you’d better avoid to keep on doing what you’re good at. For Jane this means having unclear goals or tasks.
The lifeline graph can also show you how to deal with experiences which left you down or it can even warn you what kind of activities, projects, or people drain your energy so you can make a conscious decision what you need to do and what not.
How does your lifeline look like? Fill out the form below to get a free template to make your own lifeline!
Please do share with me how you liked to work with the lifeline and feel free to pass this blog to others who want to find out what they’re good at or want to have a better insight on what to do next.