You’ve probably heard the tired, old business cliché: It’s our people that make us special.
Well, in personal history, that cliché is true. It’s the interactions with people that have made you who you are. From your loving mother to a doting great uncle to an obnoxiously rude salesperson to an inspiring educator, every person you come in contact with has had some effect on shaping the person you’ve become. Today we’re going to concentrate on those people who played significant roles in your life journey.
Use this list to help you determine who those people are. Write as much detail as you can about each one and add it to your timeline:
• Relatives. For most of us, it’s those closest to us who had the greatest impact on us. List all relatives who played a major role in your life. When writing about these relatives, include as much information about them as you can: full name, birthdate, spouse, occupation, residence, etc. Most importantly, note their contributions to your life.
• Close friends. Again, detail is key. Include when and where you met them, write about your shared experiences, how your friends impacted you and how your relationship developed or faded.
• The shapers. This would include teachers, religious leaders, scout leaders, neighbors or anyone you had a solid relationship with during your lifetime. What did you learn from these people?
• The hit-and-runners. This includes people who were in your life for a very short period of time, yet made quite an impact on you. Examples would be “foxhole buddies” from the military or a lifeguard who pulled you from danger as a youngster.
• Business associates. This is where you put that Boss from Hell who taught you how not to be a manager. You can put good stuff here, too.
Now that we’ve used several different lists to explore your personal history, you may have noticed some overlap. That’s OK. By examining your life experiences from different perspectives, it often evokes different memories of the same experience. By adding these to your timeline, it gives you an easy way to consolidate this information and help bring your life into sharper focus.
Monday: What do you remember about your school days?
This is Lesson No. 9 of a mini-course on how to write a personal history. The course will continue throughout May, which is Personal History Month. To get future lessons delivered to you, you may subscribe to our RSS feed or get e-mail delivery to your inbox. It’s easy. Details can be found in the column to the left of this post.