If turning seventy is a kind of watershed, looking back over your life and seeking the meaning is a Helpful step.

It may give you a sense of where the plotline is, of what you’re still seeking, or of missing pieces in the picture, which become a goal to complete in the future. This process of finding meaning, of giving perspective, is part of the elder’s role. If you do this, you’re probably serving others too: your family, friends, and even strangers may learn from your insights, and be inspired to seek their own. The self-help process below is one way to do this.

When you’ve done this process, notice what events were most vivid for you, and what kind of memories came up most: was it happy times or hard ones? Remember, you can change the story and choose your reality!

Self-help process: Timeline Insights

This exercise can help you review your life story, and gain perspective from it. You could do this in an hour, but more time would help you go deeper.

Start by guess at what age you’ll die. Then calculate your whole life-span as a day or a year, and work out where key events in your life would appear in this. (For example, if I am 69, and expect to live till 84, a year in my life equals 17 minutes in a day, and my current age is 7.42pm. The birth of my first daughter, when I was 29 is 8.12am.

Create a physical timeline to represent your whole life-span.

You can use rope, cable, even loo roll. Mark key events into the timeline. Now, stand at the start of the line, your birth point. Try to experience the story of your life, walking very slowly along the line, pausing at each point where a memory comes up.

You may want to repeat all or part of the journey. Spend some time in the present moment on your line, seeking meaning for the journey so far, and picturing your hopes and intentions for the years ahead of you.