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The Power of Lists

Building Blocks to Your Life Story Tom Gilbert — © April, 2009

Just about everyone makes lists. There’s the daily “to do” list, shopping lists, holiday card lists, email lists and so forth. Even that jolly old elf, Santa Claus, makes a list – and checks it twice!

If you participate in online social networking sites you may be familiar with the sharing of favorites. I frequently see my friends on Facebook post their top five movies, albums, books, TV shows and so on.

Lists can be great building blocks for crafting your life story. I often get asked how to start writing a life story and I always recommend the creation of a Memory List. Write down the significant events and memories you want included. Use short sentences or phrases. Write as many of these as you can, but from your list you will focus on the 8-10 most important ones to form the basis of your personal history project.

I first learned of this idea through Turning Memories Into Memoirs - A Handbook for Writing Lifestories by Denis Ledoux - here. It's something I recommend to anyone writing their memoir or working with a personal historian to preserve their life story. Keep your memory list in a three-ring binder and add to it. You will be amazed how helpful this will be as your list sparks additional memories and deeper reminiscing.

You can make numerous lists that will help you with your personal history project. List all your relatives. Write down the places you’ve lived or traveled to. Who are the bands and music artists you enjoy? List all the cars you’ve owned. You get the idea.

If you need help, try using Michael Boyter’s MemoryGrabber. His in depth E-book contains a whole section on lists. (By the way, this fantastic resource was updated recently and is also now reduced in price!)

I think you will discover that making lists is easy and an enjoyable way to remember valuable information. And making the list gets that information written down! Lists are powerful tools to help you with your life story.


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