The Lifeline Discovery – a career changing exercise

The LifeLine Discovery, have you ever done this exercise? Recently I read a column of one of the most recognized trainers & speakers on management and leadership in the Netherlands – and I got really excited! Why? Because his column was all about the Lifeline Discovery. This is an exercise I use frequently while working with my clients one-on-one. Like him, I don’t like doing this exercise in a group session, mostly because it can be a really private thing and open up things you perhaps don’t want to share with your colleagues or with people you don’t know that well at all. Above all, the Lifeline Discovery is such an easy and useful tool to use throughout your whole career, that I decided to share it with you.

The Lifeline Discovery – What is it?

It is an easy-to-do exercise to discover where you get your work satisfaction from. Work satisfaction is driven by three key factors: interests, skills and abilities and personality. The Lifeline Discovery is a tool that helps you define and examine these factors.

I would like to mention: easy-to-do does not mean it takes just a few minutes. It means you can make a start with it every time you want to, it is easy to pick up where you left off once you’ve started and you just need a pen and paper.

How does it work?

example lifeline discovery

In the picture on the left, you find an example of Darcy’s lifeline and her discoveries (used in the business model you!) Grab yourself a piece of paper, put in front of you horizontally and put a dashed line in the middle. The vertical axes represent excitement and enjoyment and the horizontal axes represent time. Now it is time to plot high and low points on it.

Start marking:

  • Specific important events in your life, good or bad, personal or professional – whether located to work, social life, love, hobbies, academics, spirituals pursuits or other areas.
  • Milestones or landmarks you remember clearly and are associated with strong feelings.
  • Key career changes, both positive and negative.

Above the dashed line is everything with a positive impact and under the dashed line is everything that had a negative impact. You can start at the left with your earliest highs and lows and work towards the present. When you plotted 10 – 15 events (or perhaps less), draw a line connecting all points.

What does it tell you?

How to interpret this Lifeline is totally up to you. First of all, you know the WHY behind your highs and lows. Furthermore, you might see the parallels in all events. And if you don’t, your LifeLine Discovery can be the starting point for a powerful coaching session. This is what it is to most of my clients: a starting point. Above all, the Lifeline Discovery gains insights.

Insights in decisive moments. It shows WHY something brought so much excitement and joy. It opens up the opportunity to see parallels between some events or decisions. Therefore, it opens up the possibility of a deeper reflection: my clients often start to see what they really want from life or a job. Which, above all, makes the Lifeline Discovery a great starting point for designing a new path and taking different steps.

It can be a way to start designing your own career, your own future. I wish you lots of fun working on your Lifeline Discovery and I look forward to hearing from you what you got out of it. Share your thoughts in a comment? Or if you want to share your discoveries directly with me, don’t hesitate to schedule a call with me.



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