Saturday, September 29, 2007


"The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that . . .Accept that it's unknown, and it's plain sailing." John Lennon

I remember the first time someone asked me, “What do you do?” I was 23 years old, shyly attending my first dinner party. I knew what the questioner really wanted to know, so I introduced myself as my occupation.

Thirty years later, I still used my occupation as the number one description of the person within. Throughout the years, even when I disliked my work or circumstance, I always made the effort to put the best spin possible on my answer to “What do you do?”

The problem with side-stepping the real question of who you are is that your true self can get buried beneath the spin and temptation to define yourself through your work. I do not recommend this approach when you look in the mirror. Life is too short to get sidetracked by polite answers and innocuous chatter, especially to yourself.

“Who are you?” matters. Forget about matching yourself to good work if you don’t know what you bring to the table.
Who Are You & Why Are You Here? (The Line of Your Life)

Often it's easier to understand something when it's visual. First, draw a straight line on a piece of blank paper.
Next, put a dot somewhere on the left side of the line signifying the day you were born. Put another dot somewhere on right side of the line signifying when you will die. Label each dot accordingly, in your own words, such as: “My birth”, “Death”.

Take a good hard look at the space in between. This is your life. It began with a blank line: the truth is that circumstance, fate, fortune, and your own efforts and choices determine what happens between the dots.

Now put a dot somewhere along the line signifying where you are now--today. Label it.

To the left of your dot is where you have been; to the right is where you will head.

Your imaginary line will look something like this:
Birth............. .......Today................ ..Goodbye!

Next, in between your birth-dot and your today-dot, add and label 1 or 2 or 3 dots that signify important events or things that have happened up to now. This could be anything--a graduation, a marriage, the birth of a child, a move, a loss, a promotion-—anything that has been pretty significant in your life up to this point.

Take another look. You cannot change the past, but you can honor it. The dots you have placed represent events in your life that influence and color who you are. They are significant, but they do not lock you into a permanent playback or control your destiny. You get to decide that yourself.

Here comes what you CAN control. Now place and label two or three dots on the line between where you are now and your death-dot. Each will represent a significant event or accomplishment—a certain goal you hope to reach, a level of accomplishment, an event you look forward to, activities, plans, achievements, anything that plays a part in your hopes and dreams for the future.

This is the Line of My Life. This is the big picture. Anything else is just small change. I can look at this and know what's important.
When I look at my Life Line, there is no doubt about the importance of my daughter, my business, writing, jb, travel and teaching. Here are a mere SIX WORDS that define who I am and why I am here.
What about you? When the Line of Your Life is complete, what do you see?

In a notebook, on your lampshape, inside your wallet, or where ever, write down and hold on to your important words. They are the beginning of your roadmap to the job of your dreams.

Oh, and by the way, you can change your mind. Your future is not cast in stone, and your values and priorities may change to the point where the purpose of your life will change also. Should that happen, you lose nothing by re-defining and re-directing the little dots that symbolically sit between your life and your death. Until then, you know now, to the best of your ability, what matters most. Hold that information close. You'll be using it again soon enough.


Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Wonderful words of wisdom; we all need to re-evaluate who we are and where we are going to from time to time. To drift along only cheats yourself out of the person you were always meant to be - aware and true to your inner yourself.

Debra Kay said...

As I did the exercise, I made a lovely jpeg of a time line-but had a lot of trouble putting in signficant events. I'm going to work on it again tonight with just a pencil-but that is the first lesson already learned-sometimes I get so caught up in producing a nice "product" I forget the point of the exercise.

kj said...

shrink, yes....

debra kay, well, i think you should get in the habit of taking notes starting in the MIDDLE of the page or handdrawing the exercises so perfection does not stand a chance!!

andrea said...

I like this! Anything translated into picture mode works for me :) so I plan to give it a go. We are so much more than the sum of our parts but it's those parts that form us. I like that you have more in your future than in your past. And was it Socrates who said that the unexamined life is not worth living?

Bibi said...

This is great. I did a very similar thing 10 years ago when I left the banking world. It's good to see in visual form and to re-evaluate periodically as you said, because we do change along the way.

Debra Kay said...

I'm going to ponder this on a drive to Houston tomorrow-and I will draw the line when I arrive. It will be a good, productive use of 8 hours of road.

kj said...

andrea and bibi, what an honor that you have visited here! thank you for the feedback and encouragement!

debra kay, keep it simple!

Debra Kay said...

Would you believe I bought a notebook just for that purpose.....but TODAY I said to heck with it and grabbed a loose envelope and drew the line to see what was spooking me.

Of course, it was the past-the events I selected that were life changing to me weren't what I thought I "should" have selected. But they were mine. Nothing work related at all.

But I don't think that means it was wasted time, I made a good living and learned alot-it just wasn't a life altering event. I liked the future part best.