Sticky Note Timeline Exercise
(Developed by Terry Walling. Used with Permission)
Most people feel their lives are commonplace. It is not until we take an in-depth look at our lives that they begin to recognize how we have been formed and shaped. This exercise will help you see the “process” that has made you who you are today.
You can use a poster board 14 inches x 22 inches and small 2” x 2” sticky notes of different colors to design a timeline of significant events in your life.
Many people, events, and circumstances have been used to shape your life. Take some time to reflect back from through your life and recall significant shaping experiences.
As you reflect, think of:
• The events in your life that influenced who you are today.
• The people who influenced and shaped your life.
• The significant circumstances that affected your life direction.
Shaping experiences can be positive as well as painful. Both types need to be seen and considered.
Step 1 – Capturing Your Life Experiences
Take the yellow pad of sticky notes and capture one event, person, circumstance etc. per sticky note. Write a few words about each event or person that will sufficiently describe the impact of this experience. A goal would be to try and create as many as 30- 50 sticky notes. Sometimes the most seemingly insignificant memories come to mind, go ahead and write these down. If they prove to be insignificant you can discard them later. Stack the sticky notes in front of you on a table, or on a piece of paper without concern for order at this time. Use only the yellow sticky notes as you capture these experiences.
Step 2 – Separating Your Life Experiences
Not everything in life is positive, painful events are part of every person’s journey. The next step is to transfer every event, person or circumstance on the yellow sticky notes that were painful or negative, to a pink sticky note. The test for whether it
goes on a pink sticky note is if at the time you experienced it, it was painful or negative. When you have transferred a negative experience to a pink sticky note, discard that yellow sticky note. .
Step 3 – Organizing Your Life Experiences
In the next step, transfer your sticky notes from the tabletop to the poster board (or an open file folder) while putting them in chronological order. When doing this, leave a 1”-2” margin at the top and a 2” margin at the bottom.
• Use the whole poster board. You don’t have to jam everything to one side.
• Earliest note top left
• Integrate pink and yellow as you go
• When you arrive at the margin on the bottom or you find the next sticky note represents a whole new chapter of your life, start a new column.
• You may still remember missing events… add those notes as you go…yellow or pink.
Step 4 – Identifying Chapters in your Timeline
In each person’s story there are chapters, distinct endings and beginnings. Chapter titles can be as creative as you want. Some people have used TV shows, sports themes, and other metaphors. In this next step look and try to find five to seven chapters in your timeline, you may have to rearrange some of the sticky notes and that’s fine. Identify the chapters in your life with blue sticky notes. Place the blue sticky note at the top of your poster board identifying each chapter.
Step 5 – Life Lessons
We have often heard it said “experience is the best teacher”. I submit to you that “evaluated experiences are in fact the best teacher”. Many people feel they have nothing to offer as they have had many experiences, but have not reflected to learn what lesson they were to have learned from that experience.
Look at each of your chapters and try to identify 1-2 lessons you learned or conclusions
you adopted. Place these on green sticky notes and place these chapter life lessons at the
bottom of the poster board under the chapter where you learned them or where they
Step 6 – Summarizing your Life Lessons
I’m sure you have learned some powerful lessons and forged some important values through your life experiences. This final step is about crafting your life lessons into an orderly pattern that allows you to learn from them and communicate them better to others.
Life Lessons Examples:
Family – If I gain the world but lose my family, I am nothing.
My uniqueness – I am designed to help people ascend to greater measures of influence in their lives.
Team – We enter into more when we enter in together.
Pain – I learn the best and the most through struggles and difficulties.
God – God desires an intimate and passionate relationship with Him.
Leadership – To lead is to serve.
Life lessons are thing you’ve paid a price to learn. Is it possible for you to be a better steward those lessons by intentionally, boldly and appropriately sharing them along the way, more and more often?
This is one way you can collect the seeds to begin sowing into the lives of other people.