Your values shape your story, but what are they?
Earlier, in Part 1 of this blog, we discussed the intrinsic worth of an individual’s personal story. The lessons you learn, the conflicts, and joys, are part of your legacy. They bring the facts of a personal history to life and share insight with the listener. By recognizing one’s life through the lens of storytelling, you are better equipped to pick out the values you live by.
If you haven’t been living your life to a code of values before now, it doesn’t mean it’s too late to start. In fact, you have likely been living according to deeply-held values without recognizing them! A little soul searching can help define the values you live by and how they’ve influenced your life.
What Made you You?
You can start by asking yourself the same questions that would be used in an interview recording your family and personal history. Instead of merely asking “what,” also consider the “why” behind actions and feelings. Take some time and write out your thoughts. Including a family member or close friend can also help your story become clear.
- Family Background
- What was your childhood like (what did you do, where did you live, etc.)?
- What did you think of your life when you were a child vs. how you see it now?
- Who were your relatives?
- What are some lessons or values you learned from loved-ones?
- What was difficult while growing up?
- What did you love?
- Becoming an Adult
- What career did you pursue and why?
- What was dating/getting married like?
- What did you learn from your experiences that you wish you’d known sooner?
- When did you start to feel like a real adult?
- What was difficult?
- What did you love from this time?
- The Later Years
- Where did you go in your career and why?
- What are some successes from this time?
- Are there areas where you struggled?
- What was difficult about raising children and what was most rewarding?
- What has your family or friends enjoyed doing together?
- How did current events effect you (historical, social, political, economic, etc.)?
- Establishing Your Values
- What are some of your core values? How did they impact your life decisions?
- What have been some of your biggest lessons learned?
- What are you most proud of?
- What are you grateful for?
- What warning would you give to younger generations?
- What dreams to you have for your/your family’s future?
- What is something you overcame?
- What do you want to be remembered for?
Making Sense of Your Story
The above questions are great for prompting stories and sharing a heritage. If you allow the layers to peel back, you can also discover the values that drove your own character development. Do this and you’ll start to recognize how your story developed through the impact of influencers, the conflict of life, and by living according to your values. Perhaps struggling with bullies as a child led to a strong value of justice that showed up time and again in later life. One may see how their grandfather’s work-ethic led to their own. Maybe the pursuit of financial security required giving up a sense of freedom, but led to great achievement. These values and the lessons you learned are integral to your legacy and how it affects others.
In striving to know yourself, you will be better able to communicate the things you value to people around you. Through the lens of story, you can discover the arc of conflict and success, making even quiet lives reveal their shine. By determining your values, you establish a truly impactful personal legacy.
Many lists of great interview questions exist online (also good for triggering your own thoughts!) Here is one: https://www.thoughtco.com/fifty-questions-for-family-history-interviews-1420705
For a great list of personal values and guide to defining your own, visit: https://business.tutsplus.com/tutorials/what-are-personal-values–cms-31561