Your Journey Line: Discover What Influences Your Beliefs and Decisions

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The following post is an article that was originally written for C3’s newsletter in May 2011.  We had a great reaction to this article, and, the process of creating “journey lines” is something many of C3’s clients benefit from so we wanted to share the process in this week’s blog.  Enjoy!

Recently I wrote about one of my clients who had a break through after realizing his limiting beliefs about his job search were holding him back.  Further work with him revealed a lot about where these beliefs came from and how to change them.

So, where do our limiting beliefs come from?  Typically they are things we heard from authority figures when we were growing up (parents, teachers, grandparents, guardians) or, societal messages that made a strong impression on us. There is a great exercise that I use with clients in career development workshops and in coaching sessions where individuals create a “journey line” to help them understand where their beliefs originated and how these beliefs have shaped career choices (and life choices).

To create your journey line, you want to first look back at your life and the significant events that occurred.  Often times it helps to look at your life in terms of decades and the impactful things that happened in a given decade.   Our past experiences and life’s highs and lows often shape who we are today. Identifying these things gives us insight into  our most defining and enduring values and beliefs.  Write down those events and then the prevailing belief that formed as a result of what happened.  For example, perhaps in the first decade of your life you won a big spelling bee contest after lots of hard work and practice.  Based on that, you formed a belief that persistence and hard work pay off.  Maybe in the second decade of your life you got into an Ivy League school, which reinforced the belief that persistence and hard work pay off.  One of my clients actually lost her first job after college and, based on that she formed a belief that change is constant.

After coming up with 6-10 events and beliefs (or, perhaps there are eight events but only five beliefs, because often our beliefs are reinforced by different events), you want to have a little fun and actually draw out your journey line.  It may look like the image above, which demonstrates several peaks and valleys throughout the journey line or, it may be more of an even line with a few small bumps which indicate a few lower and higher points in your life.  There is no right or wrong – it’s just an opportunity to create a visual description of the significant events of your life. 

After drawing the line, have some fun and creatively try to illustrate, with pictures, crayons, stickers or just words, the particular event and resulting belief and how it impacted you (now is your opportunity to grab some crayons, stickers, colored pencils and anything else you can pull from the kids playroom or junk drawers).  What most people find is that, first, many of the lowest points often propel them to many of their highest points in life and second, both of these create some very strong, deep seeded beliefs which we carry with us throughout our life.  This exercise is a way to connect the dots looking backwards at your life and helps make sense of the decisions you’ve made and how certain events have created beliefs and pushed you toward other decisions and events.   By going through this exercise, you will get a clearer understanding of what some of your beliefs have been and how they have influenced both your career and life choices.  What happens next is you get to choose which of the beliefs are serving you well and which are best to leave behind as you continue your journey forward.

Leave the limiting beliefs behind as they tend to be the ones to hold you back.  Leverage the beliefs that continue to serve you well and create new beliefs based on how you want your journey line to continue. 

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