Memories, Goals, Dreams: Remember Your Life Story

My husband has his one-liners and jokes that he thinks are funny.

He seems to like to point out that… “Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it seems to go.”

Now, his jokes are usually facepalm-worthy (and he’s well aware), but I’ve got to admit, he has a point with this one.

The years of your life are coming and going.

Memories, goals, dreams – how are you keeping track of them?

Consider recording the life events that you want to remember.

Today, I’m going to let you in on how I document my experiences and how you can start doing the same for your life!

life memories

Memories, Goals, Dreams: Remember Your Life Story

There are the biggest memories that you’re likely to never forget.

Graduation, getting married, landing your first job – all significant in the grand scheme of life.

Then there are those events that aren’t as memorable, but they’re still impactful in your life.

The multitude of holidays, vacations, and random life events.

These not-so-big memories may be embedded in your mind when they happen and may stay fresh for a good while, but the details will start to fade as the years continue to progress.

The dates and events will merge together and you won’t remember what year you took the trip to Tahoe where you lost your belongings…

…since you go to Tahoe every holiday for New Years.

The point here is that these smaller happenings in your life, well, they ARE YOUR LIFE.

You want to remember them.

How do you document the when, how, what, year, day, and so on?

This whole process is much like journaling. I used a diary when I was little and I am able to look back through and see what I was up to during my childhood. I should have known that trying to walk across a bridge made of linens was not a good idea!

I also kept a letter’s journal for my husband when we were first dating.

All the ponderings that I am glad I have now to reflect back on…

These days, what I’ve implemented is the grown-up version of documenting my life. It’s something that you can easily start utilizing too!

Reflecting On Life

A few years ago, I thought to myself, it has been nearly a decade since I ventured out and started my own life with my husband.

My memories of the beginning of those years are faint, like a distant memory. There are the bigger memories that I still remember because they are embedded in my mind:

  • buying the first house
  • getting married
  • landing the first career position

Though, as I was thinking back through, I had forgotten the year that my husband and I laid down new flooring in our home or the time my family flew in from across the U.S. to visit.

I remember the timeframe, but the dates and some of the aspects are not clear. I would have to resort to sifting through emails and receipts to come up with a date and piece it together that way.

It wasn’t as though these memories weren’t important to me. THEY ARE. But, like you, I can do very little to control these memories that will inevitably fade with time.

Storing Life Memories

In November of 2014, my husband and I started to document our lives year by year.

Starting out, I had to go back retroactively to prior years to document anything and everything I remembered.

The process I have taken is using a Word document (nothing fancy) about the main events of that year.

The initial entries consisted of a multi-year summary.

Reaching way back, we pieced together the highlights of several prior years.

With the backlog complete, we began focusing on new events one year at a time.

It’s that time…towards the end of the year that I think back through the past year and record anything that stands out as a memory to keep logged.

First, I type from my perspective.

Once I’m done, my husband records the same year from his perspective.

It’s amazing the different things we focus on and results in an almost complete version of the year.

We have found that boiling a year down to a page or two can be difficult, especially when all the memories come flooding back to you.

To help with this, I’m going to start making monthly entries. This method will focus on the finer details of what actually occurred during the year – taking it month by month.

This way, when I read back through at a later date, I will have a full sense as to what actually occurred in prior years.

The Excerpts

Here’s a view of a couple of my life excerpts from 2016 and 2017.


The upsides to this year included three full trips to different locations.

For our first trip, we returned to Seattle, mainly because we wanted to see how the weather would fare in the Spring, since last time we were there it was downright miserable with rainy weather and gusty winds.

This time around, the weather was top-notch. We knew our way around, so we did many of the same things as when we were previously there and some new things!

When traveling to Bainbridge, we visited Bloedel Reserve, which was absolutely beautiful.

The whole time I was imagining how I could somehow have a mini area like this for my own backyard!


This year started off with a bang. On January 1, I welcomed the new year in by getting hurt while hiking.

I had not gone hiking since I hurt myself in the summer of 2016. The injury had healed itself, and here I was getting hurt again. Of all days, on the 1st of a new year.

I still remember how it happened. It was like it was yesterday, trekking fast-paced through the winter terrain.

A pile of fallen leaves on the path made the drop in the elevation unclear to me. I sprained my right ankle and I remember feeling helpless in the middle of the hiking path. Hubby helped me up and we made our way through slowly, but surely.

Every so often, we were greeted by people who wanted to offer assistance, but all we asked for were the directions to the end of the trail.

After limping and being carried to the end, it took over 2 long and exhausting hours. It was likely one of the hardest things I have ever done.

At the end of 2017 here, I have not taken to the trails again yet, but hope to do so very soon. We have plans to go to the Mountains later this month.

Start Recording Your Memories

The documentation is your call.

If you are more technically inclined, you can use a Word document, OneNote, Evernote.

Or, if you prefer, a traditional journal or notebook.

My preference is using the Word doc arrangement because like writing a blog article, it’s much easier for me to go through and edit, add more content, and archive by date.

For my readers, I made a “Life Timeline” template so you can record your memories, goals, dreams – anything that makes up your life story. It’s available in Google Docs. If you’re more of a writer, feel free to print out the forms and fill them in!

(Updated 2019)

life timeline

Life Timeline Template

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In the end, we are the sum of our experiences.

If we forget large swathes of our lives, then we are quite literally forgetting who we are. Recording your experiences is nothing but positive both presently and in the future.

The introspection puts the little quibbles of life into perspective, and you can benefit from this while writing, as well as years from now when you read back over your entries.

Sure, it takes a little time, but the time you don’t remember is time lost. 

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Do you record the events of your life so that you don’t forget? Can you remember the first movie you saw with your special honey? What other methods might be useful to help others start recording the important things before they are forgotten? Please share your insights and ideas in the comments.

Photo cred: Pixabay
Last edit 1/6/2019


  • Mrs. Defined Sight

    I love getting people’s Christmas letters. The good old fashioned, several pager of EVERYTHING each family member did throughout the year. I originally thought, ‘pfft, who has time to do this?’ but now that I am older, I’m like, ‘this is a great idea.’ I’m sure these families are saving a copy of their yearly letter, documenting the memories and accomplishments. When we are blogging, we are always telling our son we are working on his legacy. He mainly likes the cool pics but maybe someday, he’ll see all our thoughts and decisions how we processed life. I’m trying to post more pics on my personal fbook page; I do like the memory popups that show up on there from 6 years ago, etc. Here’s to a Happy New Year – and I hope you get to stay injury free! Take care!

    • Full-Time Dollars

      I really like the Christmas letter concept. When I retire and have more time I hope to make a scrapbook using all the pictures, letters, and memories that have accumulated. It’s hard to prioritize that right now, but it will leave for a good project later on.

      Yes, crossing fingers no injuries in the new year!

  • Steveark

    My generation refers to those Christmas letters as “Brag and Gag” but then boomers are, well, a little bit blunter than millennials? Mainly I suppose because they are kind of like Facebook etc. in that they only, usually, point out the good stuff and give the impression that all the kids are better than average, every weekend is a trip to Thailand or France, etc. However recording your life, or what my generation called Scrapbooking, for your own family use is a great idea. Your hiking fall reminded me of this year, after driving from Arkansas to Nebraska just to see the total eclipse in a remote cornfield completely alone, my wife and I drove over the Colorado to hike to the top of a 14’r peak. After making the summit and starting down I hit a slick spot and blew out my knee about 300 yards from the top and six miles from the car! It was a long hike and it is kind of scary to not be sure if you will be able to make it out during daylight, if at all. I’m glad you made it and glad I did too! Great post.

    • Full-Time Dollars

      Hey Steveark, I’ve seen you around. Thanks for stopping by!

      I get ya, that’s why I don’t hang out on FB anymore. 😉

      The recount of your “adventure” sounds more treacherous than mine! 6 miles must have taken half a day. You know what though? You’re likely going to be hard-pressed to forget that day, esp. being aligned with the day of the total eclipse.

      Thanks for commenting and telling your story!!

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