Your Lifeline as a Tool for Navigating Change Skilfully

Friday 08 November 2019 - Posted by Julia McCutchen

When it comes to change, resistance really is futile!

Sooner or later the inevitable moment arrives when inner patterns and outer circumstances alter their shape and form with or without your consent.

As the pace of individual and global change continues to accelerate, now seems like an ideal time to strengthen what it takes to navigate all kinds of transitions skilfully.

Developing Awareness

My experience and teaching of the Conscious Path begins with cultivating awareness in order to show up authentically and express yourself effectively as an author, coach, teacher, entrepreneur and leader.

Self-awareness is also key for managing change because it enables you to become conscious of how influences from the past impact the present in order to set yourself free from limiting beliefs and behaviours.

In turn this empowers you to create a vision for the future which has the benefit of your experience and includes flexibility in the knowledge that expecting the unexpected can be a positive and vibrant lifestyle choice.


One of the tools for developing self-awareness to facilitate change that I’ve used myself and with my clients is the Lifeline Exercise.

It’s a process of self-discovery that works through reviewing the significant moments in your life story and reflecting on the highs and lows to gain insights on how your reactions to what has occurred has shaped you.

It’s especially useful when you’re exploring a new way forwards because noticing recurring themes, attitudes and behaviours can shift the way your inner dialogue narrates your story and provide you with a fresh perspective for breaking new ground.

Dive In

There are numerous ways to approach this exercise; here’s how my version works…

Claim some private time and space, and have some plain paper and ideally two or three different coloured pens.

Begin by taking a few moments to ground yourself; breathe in fully, and with each exhale, drop your awareness more deeply into your body and maintain that connection to avoid over-thinking the process:

  1. Cast your mind back to your earliest memories and write a list – or do a mind-map – of all the important events and milestones including highlights and lowlights in your personal and professional life.
  2. Use a different coloured pen and rate each one from 1 to 10, low to high in terms of their impact on you.
  3. Take a fresh piece of paper, turn it sideways (landscape) and draw a horizontal line across the page.
  4. At one end put 0 and add markers for 5 year intervals proceeding from left to right; this represents your life.
  5. Select significant moments that you’ve scored as high impact and plot them on the line at the age they occurred. Use different coloured pens for marking your highs above the line and your lows below it.

Here’s a simple, generic example:

When you’ve reached this point, take a break that preferably includes some physical movement such as going for a walk or doing some stretches to support you with processing your work so far.

Reflect and Write

The next stage involves reviewing your Lifeline and reflecting on what it reveals to you. The following questions may help – what…

  • Stands out for you overall?
  • Has mostly driven you so far – fear or love?
  • Are your peak moments of happiness and flow… and why?
  • Are the underlying themes, recurring patterns and greatest lessons?
  • Has strengthened within you from your experiences of crisis and trauma?
  • Challenging events have ended up being opportunities for positive change?

Write your reflections down until you feel done.

Finally, identify three key insights to take forwards and three actions to apply those insights to your current circumstances and priorities.

Specific Lifelines

This exercise can also be used to explore specific areas of your life such as doing a Lifeline for your health, relationships or career.

In addition, you might feel drawn to creating a Future Lifeline to plot your vision for the next one, three or five years.

Ultimately, this tool will support you to navigate change of any kind skilfully and remind you that it’s not what happens to you that shapes your life, it’s your response to what happens that truly determines your reality!

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