New Year’s Resolution: Write Your Life Story
Contributed By Paul Nauta, FamilySearch PR Manager
A popular new year’s resolution is to write your personal life story or family history, and FamilySearch #52Stories makes it easy to do.
No one is ordinary, really
Each life story is comprised of many individual memories, experiences, and stories which, when accumulated, tell the interesting journeys of each of us. When compiled, these happenings become a priceless legacy. And who better to tell our own stories than us? If you don’t capture them, no one will. But often the hardest thing is knowing what to write.
One question a week
Last year FamilySearch launched its #52Stories project (see related story). It provided a different theme each month and 12 questions per theme to consider. Each month has a theme, like “Goals and Achievements,” “Holidays and Traditions,” or “Education and School.” You pick the questions you want to answer from each theme each month. If you can’t decide which question to answer each week, then just answer more than one!
It doesn’t matter if you write a few paragraphs, a single page, or several. Tell it the way you recall it or want it to be remembered. Be succinct or elaborate. You can hand-write in a journal, in an electronic document on your laptop or phone, or you can make a video or audio recording. Next December, you will have 52 stories about your life that comprise your life story in your own words.
If you want some real entertainment, ask some family members to share their memories surrounding a specific question, and add their memories.
There’s not a wrong or right way to capture it or tell your life story.
Floor plans are great memory joggers
Another great method for helping you recall long-forgotten memories or creating fun fodder to add to your life history are floor plans. That’s right. Start with your earliest memory. Take a piece of paper and quickly and roughly sketch out the floor plan of your childhood home(s). Visualize yourself moving from room to room. Describe them.
What memories do you recall from each room?
The #52Stories questions are available for download for free by theme on 12 colorful pages. You can print, download, or bookmark them for referencing throughout the year. There’s even a poster-size memory jogger you can print.
January’s theme is goals and achievements. Sample questions include:
- What goals are you actively working toward right now?
- What was the greatest achievement of your life?
- What is something you taught yourself to do without help from anyone else?
- What role has failure played in your efforts to achieve your goals?
At the end of the year, your 52 stories, or your ancestors’ stories, can be shared for free in a FamilySearch Memories profile, preserving them for posterity.
A lasting benefit
New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler and faith leaders such as President Spencer W. Kimball have emphasized that recording and sharing glimpses of your life and your ancestors’ lives is an invaluable aspect of building strong families.
Your triumphs over adversity, how you endured a long-term difficulty, your progress when all seemed bleak, how you achieved important goals—when shared as part of your family story—are gifts that keep on giving in very powerful, inspiring ways. They help build individual identity in children and grandchildren.
Your life story is waiting to be told. You are the author. Tell it like it is, or was. Your posterity will thank you.