I was in a yoga class this past Saturday when it dawned on me that August 23rd held special significance. Three years ago, I completed my final chemotherapy treatment. I had sent ovarian cancer out of my life for good (hopefully!) I remember that day because it’s also my mother’s birthday. Two good reasons to celebrate!
- This photo was taken during my last chemo session. I decided to dress up and wear a wig to celebrate the occasion in style. Why not?!
When I shared this triumphant news with my yoga instructor, she praised me for being strong and resilient. She then told me about a book that she had read titled, When bad things happen to good people, by Rabbi Harold Kushner. This book had been very helpful to her as a young widow with three young children, dealing with the sudden death of her husband in a freak accident.
I have not read this book, but just the mention of its title got us into a conversation about overcoming adversity and hardship. What person on Earth has not experienced some kind of adversity? Trauma affects all people. Suffering is universal; it’s the human condition.
We agreed that it’s what you do after the hardship that makes all the difference. Difficult experiences can shape your life positively or negatively, depending on your response and attitude.
Suddenly the phrase, “Resume of Your Life” popped out of my mouth, and I knew it was an idea worth sharing on this blog.
Have you ever wanted to write a full-disclosure resume?
I got this crazy idea in my head to write a resume of my life. That is, recording the key events and milestones that I had experienced over the different periods, from childhood to adulthood. It could serve as an outline for a possible autobiography, if I ever wanted to write one (or if anyone would ever want to read it). It would take less time and could serve as a good reflection of my life (if not memory jogger).
Using the format of my existing professional resume (created by my friend and resume writer, Bree Gurin), I began organizing my life events in decades (in reverse chronological order). Since I couldn’t remember the specific year in which things happened, my age in decades seemed like an easier way to organize and capture the major events in my life. Maybe you are like me and you can remember what you did on your 30th birthday, but need a calculator to figure out in which calendar year that occurred.
- Here’s theTEMPLATE – Resume of My Life that I created for this exercise. Try it out.
I gave each decade a theme (e.g., My 50′s = Resilient Survivor; My 40′s = Adventures in Parenting ; My 30′s = Marriage, Living Abroad, Career Growth; My 20′s Single Ambitious Career Woman, etc.)
In bullet point format under each decade, I listed the major events, decisions, failures, victories, hardships and lessons learned. I included only the ones that really stood out to me as benchmark experiences. I honored each one as a valuable life lesson.
When all of that was done, I pushed my chair back and reflected on what should be at the top of my Life’s Resume. What would be my personal summary statement? (versus summary of professional expertise?) In place of Competencies, what Attributes and Gifts would I capture on my personal resume? This section perhaps held the greatest value for me in this exercise.
When it was done and I had printed it out, I couldn’t help but wonder what themes and experiences would continue to shape me as an individual in future decades. This exercise made me see that my life’s experiences, both good and bad, were valuable.
To share or not to share?
I considered sharing the Resume of My Life on this blog, but I have decided that it is too personal to post on the worldwide web. Something like this is better shared one-on-one with selected individuals.
But I did want to share the top portion with you, so you could get an idea of what/how you might work on your own. I feel that this exercise will be useful in the development of your personal brand and living your personal brand values.
Resume of My Life
Kathy McAfee – “The Great Encourager”
Global Difference Maker whose personal mission is to change the world for good by inspiring others to direct their talents and resources to make a difference for others. A woman of action who lives her life with a fierce urgency of now. Bold and determined, Kathy puts herself and her ideas out into the world to take hold and grow. Kathy possesses a dynamic presence and compelling qualities that win people over. A good friend, loving daughter, loyal wife, thoughtful sister, aunt, niece and cousin, Kathy strives to make other people happy, while also being content herself.
Gifts and Attributes
|Creativity and Imagination
|Action – Doer
|Writing – Blogging
|Marketing and Branding
|Generous – Philanthropic
What would Buddha say?
As you reflect upon the events that have shaped your life and made you the person that you are, I want to share one more insight. It comes from the book that I am reading called, The Trauma of Everyday Life, by Mark Epstein, MD. According to Wikipedia, Dr. Epstein (born 1953) is an American author and psychotherapist, integrating both Buddha’s and Sigmund Freud’s approaches to trauma, and writing about their interplay. In his most recent book, The Trauma of Everyday Life, he interprets the Buddha’s spiritual journey as grounded in Buddha’s personal childhood trauma.
“(Trauma) …is not something to be ashamed of, not a sign of weakness, and not a reflection of inner failing. It is simply a fact of life.” “…the traumas of everyday life, if they do not destroy us, become bearable, even illuminating, when we learn to relate to them differently.” –– Dr. Mark Epstein, author of The Trauma of Everyday Life (page 3)
Put this idea into action
Set aside at least two hours for this exercise. Download the TEMPLATE – Resume of My Life and save it to your computer. Fill in your name on the template. Have a copy of your professional resume on hand, which will be useful in referencing key dates, places and events from your work life.
Allow yourself to be completely honest about the events in your life: the good, the bad and the ugly. They all contributed to making you the person that you have become. No one else has to see this personal life resume, unless you decide to share it with them.
If you are a visually dominant person, you might enjoy putting the Resume of Your Life in a visual timeline fashion (just as magazines do to depict the history of a company).
When you are finished, print it out and review it. Reflect upon your life’s lessons. Avoid blaming others for the things that happened to you. Instead, take responsibility for your response, and pride in your perseverance and survival.
Make a plan to review your Life Resume and update it periodically. Keep up with the changes in your life.
Finally, always be on the lookout for cool things to add to your Life Resume. Every experience (good, bad and ordinary) can teach you something and add to the richness of your life.