To identify a meaningful and motivating future direction it is helpful to know your starting point. That is why we in earlier posts have looked deeper into your current problems or dissatisfactions. Today we will look at your past. This can help you evaluate which areas you want to set new goals within.
A concrete tool that you can use to understand what may need to change in your life on a deeper level is the timeline. Exploring some background is used more or less pronounced within psychology to identify important patterns and/or focus areas. Also, mapping out one’s background has in itself been shown to have a calming and enriching impact on psychological wellbeing. However, if you know that you are suffering from trauma or feeling very resistant to this exercise you should not do this by yourself but together with a licensed therapist.
A timeline consists of two axes: one axis for your mental health on a scale ranging from minus 10 = worst possible mental health to +10 = best possible mental health, where 0 = neither good nor bad, in-between/neutral. The other axis shows time-intervals over your age, e.g. 5 year-intervals. The picture shows an example for ‘Anne’. As can be seen in the picture, Anne began most recently to feel bad, the on-set, when she had her child.
Going further back it is apparent that she also had a tough period in her childhood when her parents divorced and her grandmother unexpectedly died, a tragic event that also affected her mother a lot. She has also had challenges with her first boyfriend and worries over grades. Important events that have influenced her mental health and wellbeing, who she is today.
You can start by identifying at least 5-10 of your most important life events that have impacted your life, both positive and negative. You can choose between connecting them with a line as in the illustration over Anne’s life, or just mark the events with a cross and a label.
Next week I will go through how you can challenge yourself to add more themes to the timeline and later on use the timeline to set your future direction.
#timeline #lifegoals #importantlifevents