a large family

In our continuing series on recording your personal history, this next installment contains prompts to help you think of stories to tell about your adult years, age 18 to the present. This is a large span of years, so don’t feel like you have to discuss this entire time period in one sitting. It may be easier to set aside a certain amount of time to work on it, like one hour a day, two hours each week, or whatever time frame works for your schedule.

Since everyone’s experiences are different, some of these prompts will apply to your life, but some may not. Use these prompts as a guide to help you think of things to discuss. Be prepared to let one story lead to another—feel free to let the discussion go wherever you want it to go.

Education/Training

Describe your life after high school. Where did you go? What did you do?

Did you go to college? If so, how did you choose which college to go to?

Describe your college experiences, year by year.

Did you have roommates? If so, describe them and tell experiences you had with your roommates.

Were you part of a fraternity or sorority? If so, tell about that experience and the people you met.

What was your major?

What were your favorite classes?

Who were your favorite professors?

What clubs or organizations were you involved in?

Describe any sports you played.

How did you pay for college? Did you have a job? Scholarships? Parents?

Looking back, what are some of the things you learned about life during your college years? How did you learn those lessons?

What was the most stressful or challenging thing for you during this period of your life?

What degree(s) or certifications did you earn?

Did you complete an internship or any on-the-job training?

Once you were finished with college or extra training, what job(s) were you qualified to do?

Were you able to find a job?

 

grandmother with her grandson

Marriage/Family

Describe how you met your spouse and how you fell in love.

How long did you date before you were married? Describe your dating experiences.

Describe your proposal/engagement.

Describe your wedding (location, day, ceremony, clothing, guests, food, etc.).

Did you take a honeymoon? If so, describe where you went.

Describe your marriage. What does your spouse mean to you?

How has your spouse contributed to your life?

What is your favorite thing about being married?

What marriage advice would you give?

If you’ve been married multiple times, describe each of those relationships.

How many children do you have? Describe their births and childhood.

Tell some specifics about each of your children. What stories do you remember from their childhood?

What side of the family did your children take after? Who did they look like?

Describe the relationship you have with each of your children now.

Do you have grandchildren? Describe your relationship with your grandchildren and tell your favorite stories about your grandchildren.

What are your thoughts about being a parent and/or a grandparent?

What was it like to be a parent of toddlers? Teenagers? Young adults?

Describe some of your favorite experiences as a parent.

What was your parenting style? Were you strict? Were you easy-going?

Describe some of your most difficult experiences as a parent.

What do you wish you had known when you were a young parent?

What parenting advice would you give your children?

What family traditions do you have with your children/grandchildren?

Describe your relationship with your parents or other family members as you’ve aged.

What role did your parents play in your children’s lives?

Where have you lived? Describe the various places you’ve lived, include addresses if possible.

 

Friends/Social

Describe the closest friends you’ve had throughout your life.

Who do you call your best friend? Why?

What adventures have you had with your friends?

Who, outside of your family, has had the most influence on your life?

When you need help, who do you call?

What social activities do you enjoy? Who do you socialize with?

What have you learned from your friends?

 

elderly couple riding a scooter

Travels

Where have you traveled?

What is your favorite place to visit? What place have you visited the most?

Describe your favorite memories from places you’ve visited.

Have you had any travel disasters? If so, describe them.

Describe any travels or vacations you went on with your children or grandchildren.

What languages have you learned? What cultures have you learned about?

What is the one place you’ve always wanted to visit, but have never seen?

 

Jobs/Occupation

What was the first job you worked after high school? After college?

How did you find that job? How did you choose your occupation?

How did you make money to support yourself and your family throughout the years?

What jobs have you worked? Describe the jobs, the companies and the people you worked with or served. Where were these jobs located? How long did you work each job?

Did you enjoy your job? Describe what you liked and disliked about your job.

Were you able to be your own boss? Did you run your own company? If so, describe the company and your experiences.

What lessons did you learn as an employee? As a boss or manager? As a business owner?

 

Hobbies/Interests

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Describe your hobbies.

How did you first become interested in each hobby? Describe any education or training you’ve had related to your hobby.

Have you made money with some of your hobbies?

Have you been able to share with or teach your hobbies to any of your children/grandchildren?

List some of your favorites: favorite foods, color, movies, books, music, TV shows, holiday, clothes, flowers, etc.

 

Overview/Beliefs/Philosophy

As we wrap up our list of things to record in your personal history, there is one last thing you need to record for your posterity: your beliefs and philosophies about life! Take time to end your personal history with some very personal, loving advice to your posterity.

What are the greatest challenges you’ve faced over the past few decades? What advice would give to others who face similar challenges?

What life lessons do you want to teach your posterity?

Discuss your religious beliefs and any role that religion has played in your life.

Share your advice and opinions about family, love, finances, politics, religion and any other subject that is important to you.

What is most important in life?

What is the most important thing you’ve learned from life?

What makes you happy?

What is least important in life?

What things do you want to see your posterity avoid?

What final advice would you give to your grandchildren and their children?

If you could teach them one thing that would help them in their lives, what would you teach them?

When you are gone, how do you want to be remembered?

 

Read our previous articles about personal history:

Starting Your Own Personal History: Why You Should, And How to Start

How to Start Writing Your Personal History: Begin With Your Favorite Stories

Personal History: Recording Your Childhood and Teenage Memories

Read the final article in this series:

How to Store and Preserve Your Personal History