How to Create a Personal Life Timeline Chart
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A personal life timeline chart is a chronology of your individual experience. It documents the major events in your life, positive and negative, and helps you see the arc of your personal development.
A timeline chart is a useful way to identify the major themes and influences in your life, as well as set the course for attaining future dreams and goals. While what you choose to add to your personal timeline is entirely up to you, the following steps provide guidance for creating a personal chart.
- A personal life timeline chart is a chronology of your individual experience.
- A timeline chart is a useful way to identify the major themes and influences in your life, as well as set the course for attaining future dreams and goals.
Choose a starting point. A personal life timeline chart does not necessarily have to begin with the moment of your birth. You can choose to begin with your parents or ancestors and track how events in their lives lead to your own. Alternatively, you can begin with a later stage in your own life, such as at the beginning of an important relationship or at the start of your career.
Break your timeline into segments. To consider the events of each and every year can be a daunting task. By breaking your timeline into pieces, you can clearly identify the major experiences in each period of time. For example, you can choose to segment your timeline into 5 or 10 year windows, or choose to divide it up according to major moves or changes in your life, such as before, during and after a significant relationship.
Identify three to five important events of experience during each time segment. Consider positive and negative experiences, as well as life-transforming decisions you've made or when you first met special or influential people in your life.
Take time for personal reflection. As you note the experiences that have made up your life, begin to add more detail to your timeline. For instance, you can add notes about how an event made you feel or reflections about how certain decision or experiences affected the later course of your life. Don't expect to finish your timeline all in one go. The process of creating a personal chart takes time and consideration, and with careful reflection, you might find yourself wanting to include other experiences.
- Break your timeline into segments.
- The process of creating a personal chart takes time and consideration, and with careful reflection, you might find yourself wanting to include other experiences.
Consult your timeline to plan future goals. A timeline is an excellent tool for seeing how the events of your life have shaped the present. It can also point out places in your life where you wished you had acted differently or hoped for a different outcome. Use your timeline to consider how you will reach future goals and realise your life's wishes.
- Keep your timeline private. As a record of personal experience, it is your own creative tool that you don't need to share with others.
Helen Anderson has been writing and editing professionally since 2007. Her work has appeared in scholarly and popular publications, such as "Foreign Affairs" and "The New York Times." Anderson holds a master's degree in public health from Columbia University, where she is currently completing a Ph.D.