A Comprehensive Guide to Writing about the Major Milestones in Your Life
Need to learn how to write about major milestones in your life?
How do you define the major milestones in your life?
Want to be sure the important times are remembered?
Why Create a Personal History of Your Milestones?
Writing about your personal history and life milestones is a lasting legacy that you can leave your family, friends, and descendants. That’s because many people don’t bother to write down their stories before they die. Sure, we tell our stories—sometimes to anyone who is willing to listen. But once we tell our stories, then it’s up to someone else to remember them. Will your stories be remembered correctly, or will they be embellished or changed, either on purpose or due to human error? Why take that chance?
When you take the time to write about the major milestones in your life, you are ensuring that your stories are told and remembered correctly, as you want them to be remembered, and without any distortion or forgetting of the facts. Future generations—even those not yet born—will cherish the gift of knowing where their family has come from, having a deep understanding of their roots, and being able to know where they stand as an individual. This may be one of the most important gifts you can leave behind.
Defining the Major Milestones in Your Life
What qualifies as a major milestone in your life? The answer to this question can be highly subjective to many. After all, we each face different challenges in our lives. So, perhaps what is a major milestone for you, such as overcoming a personal challenge, may not be a milestone for someone else.
However, most people would agree that the major milestones in one’s life are the times when we are forced to change who we are, redefine what we think of ourselves, make the decisions that move us forward in life or perhaps completely overhaul everything we have come to know. They may be long-term goals that you reached, changed or re-evaluated. Or they may be events that you looked forward to or dreaded.
In essence, your major milestones are the plot twists in your life… the events that turned you down a different path and may have entirely changed the outcome of your life. Generally, these major milestones begin to occur in our teen years and continue until our death.
Have you ever packed up and moved to a different country? Took that challenge that you never thought possible? Defeated an obstacle that had long stood in your way? Or finally crossed something off of your bucket list? Did you experience any family challenges? These are all examples of major life milestones.
Potential Major Life Milestones
- First kiss
- First girlfriend / boyfriend
- Family milestones
- Passed driver’s exam
- First car
- First job
- High school milestones / challenges
- Write a Master’s thesis or PhD dissertation
- Graduate high school, college, graduate school
- Long-term goals
- First full-time job
- Get your own health insurance / car insurance
- Ask for a raise
- Move out / first apartment
- Grocery shopping for yourself for the first time
- When you fully support yourself
- Being a Bridesmaid / Maid of Honor / Usher / Best Man
- Get engaged
- Get married
- First house
- Having a baby
- Young children, child development
- Parenting milestones
- Give to charities
- Work, career goals
- Volunteer work
- Milestone birthdays (30, 40, 50, etc.)
- Milestone anniversaries (10th, 25th, 50th, etc.)
- First big gift to parents
- Buy a brand-new car
- Buy furniture
- Develop political beliefs
- Receive a promotion / become a manager
- Entertain guests
- Afford a luxury
- Saving for retirement
- Quit a job
- Start a business
- Embark on a journey – physical, spiritual, or other
- Health challenges you have faced
- Losses in your life (parting ways, death, etc.)
- Accomplish items on your bucket list
- And more!
Deciding Which Milestones to Include
So, you want to write about major milestones. You’ve got a varied list to choose from, plus your own personal milestones added in. If you wrote about everything, you’d likely end up with a rambling account of your life in novel form, one that may be so long that no one would want to read it. How do you decide which milestones are the most important? Here are a few thought-provoking questions to consider when deciding which milestones to write about.
- Which milestones had the most meaning to you?
- Which events were you looking forward to the most or least?
- Which milestones caused a major change in your life—positive or negative?
- Which experiences made you look at life differently?
- Which milestones taught you a life lesson?
Write about Major Milestones for Yourself
Sharing accomplished life goals can be a therapeutic experience. If you are plagued with worries, stresses, and problems, then stream-of-consciousness writing can be a healthy way to purge these issues from your mind. So, taking the time to write is a great way to put your thoughts, ideas, feelings, and struggles down on paper.
Write your stories to take stock of your life. It’s through writing that you can experience a better understanding of yourself, your life, your decisions, and the consequences of your choices. It allows you the opportunity to evaluate your past, so you can live a better present and future. Writing every day can also help keep you balanced in your thoughts and decision-making. And writing can be used as a way to relax and close out your day.
Many people find that writing about the major milestones in their lives gives them a different perspective on the past. As a result, you end up being more self-aware and understanding of how your choices affect both you and those around you. It is through writing that many people experience true growth and are able to move themselves forward to the next stage in life.
Write about Major Milestones for Your Audience
One of the main reasons for writing is to tell your story. And you may also want to record your stories for your own mental health. But who are you writing for beyond that? Who is your audience?
Think about the people who will be most interested in reading about the major milestones in your life: your closest friends, family members, and possibly some curious acquaintances. In addition, you’ll want to think about the smaller children in your family who may not get an opportunity to know you. You may also want to keep your future descendants in mind—those who will never know you.
While you are writing, or better yet once you are organizing your stories, think about what people go through at different stages of their lives. What difficulties did you overcome? And what words of sage advice can you give to those who may be going through similar difficulties in their lives? What did you learn—good or bad? What did you wish you had known? What advice do you wish someone had given you?
Before You Start Writing…
Before you begin writing, plan for the potential subjects to include in your history. Start with a to-do list for the entire project. Write down your own list of personal major milestones. You may want to create a bullet list for each milestone that includes the major points you want to make and the details that you want to mention.
Next, you’ll want to get organized before your write. You can use an index card or a sheet of paper for each milestone, whichever you think is appropriate. Once you have the major points written about each milestone, you may want to put the cards or papers in order of how you want them to appear. Perhaps you want to order your stories chronologically or according to another theme. You don’t necessarily have to write your stories in order. In fact, it’s probably best to write each story when you feel inspired.
As you begin writing, don’t worry about getting everything perfect. The purpose of your first draft is simply to get your thoughts down on paper. Disregard any misspellings, punctuation issues or word choices. It is when you read through your writing and begin revising your work that you can tackle these issues. For now, your primary goal is to get each story written the way you want it told. Then you can check facts, fix errors, and work out any other details later.
Find a comfortable place to write. Maybe you want to sit in a chair with a view. Or maybe you want to write outside. You may also want to find a place with few distractions. Once you find your comfortable spot, decide on a time of day when you may feel refreshed or inspired. Designate that as your special writing time. Then put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and write or type away!
Here are a few thought-provoking autobiography tips to help you get started.
How Long Should Each Story Be?
If you don’t have a lot of writing experience, you may be worried about how much you should write. While there isn’t a rule of thumb regarding story length, you should probably consider writing at least three paragraphs for each major milestone you want to write about. Any less than three paragraphs, and you probably haven’t gone into enough depth to provide anything of value to those who will be reading it.
When writing about major milestones, you can use similar language for writing a memoir. Your writing doesn’t have to be flowery or formal. You’re not trying to write the great American gothic novel. You’re just writing about your own history and experiences. So, keep it light and conversational. As you are writing, pretend that you are sitting with a friend and telling them the story.
Describing your developmental milestones should be an enjoyable experience. And it should provide you with a wealth of mental growth and peace of mind. If the experience isn’t positive for you, then you may be putting too much pressure on yourself. Try taking a breath or taking a break before returning to your writing.
In general, each story about one of your major milestones can be as long as you want it to be. Try to stick to the relevant facts and details without wandering off into one or more tangents. Use your index cards and stick with the original story. What’s the lesson you learned from each event? What wisdom do you want to impart for each story? Each sentence should support those two questions and lead the reader to your conclusion. If you keep these things in mind, your writing should be succinct and fulfill your purpose and intent.
Here are a few memoirs by notable people for some inspiration.
Publishing Your Stories
Once your stories have been written, edited, revised, and revised again, you may want to have one or more people review your stories. Someone else may remember a detail that you have forgotten, or they may have a different perspective of the event. For example, your parents may have a different point of view than you do on how you handled an event or milestone in your life. Consider their thoughts and if that will influence your writing.
Now, it’s time to decide what you want to do with your written stories. You may decide to have them published in book format through a self-publisher. There are many self-publishers to be found online. Take the time to research your options, as some publishers may ask for a lot of money upfront. And as in many industries, there are always a few who will take advantage of you. Do your research and ask for references before you make a financial commitment.
Another option is to go to your local printer or office supply store. These print shops can print your story on a wide variety of regular papers and bind your stories in a notebook or spiral binder. This may be a better option for you if you only want a few copies printed.
How Lastly Helps You Share and Write about the Major Milestones of Your Life
At Lastly.com, we take special pride in helping you preserve the memories of your life and shape them into a lasting legacy to leave behind. Through specific writing prompts and thought-provoking questions, we help you pinpoint the treasured stories you’ll want to tell. You can also upload photos or videos to complement your stories and ask others to add to you account of an event. Plus, lastly will automatically create a beautiful timeline of your life. You’ll be able to click on events to view the details, photos, and more. In addition, you’ll be able to designate one or more people to have access to and care for your personal story when you are no longer able to.
Whatever reason you have for wanting to record your stories and create a legacy, we’ve developed all of the tools to make it easy and fun. Let’s get started today!