Lifeline Workshop

Aim & Context

What is the aim of the exercise?
This exercise aims to allow participants to take some time to review their own life and create a timeline for it. As they proceed through the exercise and share, participants reflect on the ‘most important’ events of their life and how these impacted their journey thereby connecting the dots.
In what context is this exercise useful?
This exercise can be useful to improve one’s understanding of how her/his life impacts the decisions made, it can help to understand behavioral patterns, improving understanding how things connect together and enhance storytelling abilities. Importantly, it can be highly beneficial to understand other’s, create a strong bonding situation, enhance collaboration and team performance.

Quick facts

Preparation time: +/- 1-1h30 hour (all)
Workshop time: 10 min + (20 min / participant)
Ideal group size: 3-6 people
Contact of Workshop Developer:
This workshop was developed by multiple LEAP advanced coaches and formatted in this template by Mathieu.
Equipment and tools needed:
  • Papers
  • Pens
  • Thinking / focus music
  • Something to play music (e.g., speakers, laptop)

Detailed Description of Activity & Method

Please list step by step how the activity should be facilitated

Activity & Format
Facilitation Notes
*Can be done before workshop starts by all participants*
Lifelining: Introduction
20 min
Every person has story:
  • What is your story and how you connect the dots until now?
  • In this session we want to get insights on defining moments in your life.
  • We want to create understanding about where you come from and where you are now.
Steve Job says:
  • you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
Today will try to look backwards at our lives and experiences and try to connect the dots.
This exercise is a creative process for you to capture the key moments in your life. This self-reflection exercise can be useful to review your personal history and reflect upon where you have been and where you might be going. This Lifeline Exercise can help you capture significant events in your life and may enable you to create a more integrated view of your life journey.
Patterns may emerge that help you understand yourself better. The lifeline exercise is a tool for exploring who you are, what you’ve done and how you got to where you are today
*Can be done before workshop starts by all participants*
Lifelining: Who am I – Individual Reflection
60 min (or more)
Start by getting a sheet of paper and creating a list of key moments, events, accomplishments, obstacles, and celebrations that are important. As you detail your timeline, don’t hesitate to add other important events that come up (not everything listed needs to be lifechanging events).
Make a timeline that begins with birth and ends today. Note the events on your timeline with a brief description. You determine if the events get added to your sheet above the timeline, on the timeline or below the timeline depending on whether the event was happy, neutral, or challenging for you.
Every participant takes 45 minutes to write/represent their story. And about 15 minutes to reflect on the following questions:
  • Step back and look at the entire picture of your life.
  • Are there patterns that you observed as you review your lifeline?
  • What do you notice about your lifeline and the events that are significant for you?
  • What these events have in common?
  • How are they different?
  • What are the successes (above the line) and challenges (bellow the line)?
To be shared: This exercise is done individually, this means “done by yourself”
Reflection is not just thinking… it is head, heart, gut, and body.
Find your own spot and take your time.
Think back on defining moments of your life, moments of joy and fun, but also painful and emotional moments.
Write the highs and lows in your journal.
Make a graph of your life moments and connect the dots.
Horizontal line = time
Vertical line = happiness/fulfillment.
Start of workshop with participants
This is where the sharing among participants starts.
5 min
  • Introduction of facilitators
  • Present agenda
  • If a small group, check-in on participants mood, expectations, or other.
  • Get people to ‘arrive’ in the space. This will be a highly introspective session and participants will need full presence. Ask them to get comfortable, turn off any distractions. Take 3 deep breaths.
Start with answering the check-in question by yourself and let everyone share and then hand the word over to someone else.
Suggestion: in a few words, did you find the individual exercise easy, moderate, or difficult?
Lifelining: Who am I – Sharing/Personal Illustration
20 min
The facilitator shares its own story, create an atmosphere of trust.
  • Create the right atmosphere
  • Create an environment of trust
Lifelining: Who am I – Sharing Participants
20 min / participant
Each participants share their lifeline. Meanwhile others listen without interrupting.
Some ground rules:
  • Make it personal: speak from yourself and from the self (I think… I feel and etc.)
  • Share what you wish to share
  • Be present
  • Listen
  • Do not judge
  • Do not compare lifelines. Simply appreciate peers for sharing their stories.
  • No discussion (Questions only for clarification)
  • What’s being shared here stays here
  • Silence is part of sharing
Ideally do outside if possible.
Allow participants to share their lifeline when they are ready to share.
Tell participants that there is no right or wrong. That every life story is unique. Therefore, the are no good, better or bad lifelines. Only different people with different stories.
5 min
  • Debrief activity, ask them if they enjoyed it, gather quick feedback.
  • Provide logistical info about next planned workshop (if any)
  • Check-out suggestion if small group: Get each person to say how they feel in one word after this workshop.
  • Thank people for joining. Invite people to retry this exercise at home and see if they get different results.

Feedforward: Tips for future facilitators

General facilitation note : This exercise can be done partially by participants alone at home, or all together. If the latter is selected, you will need a beamer, video player (e.g., laptop) and sound system to play the Steve Jobs intro video. The advantage of doing it at home is that it allows participants to take more time to reflect. Alternatively, maybe some won’t take as much time.

Resources (Helpful websites or books for further reading)


What are "meaningful" events?

Meaningful is anything, that triggered you in one way or another. It may be an emotional event, or something that made you grow. I.e. graduation might be meaningful for some people, but totally irrelevant for others. Still, make sure that the lifeline is less of a Curriculum Vitae rather than a personal "story of your life".

How shall I present my lifeline?

Think about what part(s) of the lifeline you want to present during our session. You don’t have to talk about every event – you may simply leave some of them out, if you want. Maybe, you want to start with a short overview of the lifeline and then zoom into a special event?