Written by: Joe Fiduccia
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see the life story of one of your ancestors? A story that shares something about your ancestors that time has forgotten? A story that provides some insights into your heritage? Something you and your family will treasure for years to come?
Unfortunately, all we usually have from the past is a handful of trinkets and photos. We know nothing about them outside of whatever was documents or passed down through conversation. Some of us have nothing at all. In the end, 95% of our descendants’ life stories are forgotten as a result. And if we don’t take steps now to preserve our own story, the same thing will happen to ours.
But with the help of modern technology, documenting your story is easier than ever. Yet if you have been hesitant to start because you simply don’t know where to start, consider these six easy tips:
1. Answer a simple question: “why”.
Before you can start documenting and preserving your story, you need to ask yourself WHY you’re doing it in the first place? Have you lived a pretty robust life? Are you genuinely interested in sharing those stories with your future descendants?
Have you amassed a large collection of photos that you want to preserve? Is there a tragedy or something you recently experienced that gave you a different perspective on life?
Do you have more time now than you had a year ago? Do you have the time to reminisce and preserve? Or perhaps it’s health related. Do you have a long medical history that could prove useful to your great, great grandchildren?
Whatever the reason, answering the question of “why do I want to preserve my story” is the first necessary step in documenting effectively.
2. Organize and scan your primary documents or photos.
Start looking through all those files sitting in your cabinet, or all of those pictures in the albums on your shelves. There is no need to spend weeks on this. Just skim through what you have, because there is a difference between files that are “fun to look at” vs. “useful to know.” In fact you will likely know right away if you consider that file “important” enough to preserve, or if you should just keep on skimming.
Don’t overthink this! Just find the documents or images that best convey what you are trying to preserve in your life’s journey, and scan them into your computer in an organized fashion.
Don’t have access to a scanner? No problem – take out your phone and snap a photo of that file.
3. Your story goes beyond scanned documents and images.
There are plenty of milestones in your life that only reside in one place – your memories. Sometimes a tangible photo or document just doesn’t exist. So that brings us to this third tip – what are the milestones floating around in your memory banks that you wish to preserve or pass down?
For example, how did you feel going on your first ever job interview? Do you have any insights that could help your great grandchildren land their first job?
Have you ever been involved in a car accident? Do you have any key takeaways or lessons learned from that experience that could potentially save the life of your future descendants?
What about your personal traditions? For example, is there a phrase you always say to yourself in the morning, or something you always do to help motivate you through the rest of the day?
Milestones and memories encompass a lot of who we are. Problem is, all of them are lost in time unless we take steps now to preserve them. So figure out what those milestones are in your life, and start writing. Even just one paragraph may be all you need.
4. Let’s get all of these things stored properly.
Once you have started organizing files and stories digitally, it’s time to begin preserving them. Keeping files and stories in a folder on your computer may suffice for now, but it’s possible those files will never be seen by those its intended for. Or, perhaps you wish to keep everything private for the time being. Or worse, they are inadvertently deleted due to a technology glitch or failure.
Platforms such as America’s Footprints are an excellent cloud-based solution. Uploading files or copying / pasting the stories you’ve written are easily completed from the web or even a mobile device. These services remain private while providing options that notify your next of kin of the memories you preserved when its time. Best of all, Footprints withstand the test of time.
You can start preserving your story in our cloud-based service from here.
5. Life moves on, and so should your preservation methods.
What we choose to document today is not the end all, be all. Each of us still has plenty of life left to live. We will continue building memories, snapping photos, and creating new milestones. We will have good days and bad. Life will continue to guide us, teach us, and if we’re lucky – comfort us.
The memories and milestones you make in the future are just as important as those from your past. That is why preserving your story as life evolves is crucial towards providing the full picture of your journey to your great, great grandkids.
Never stop making memories. And never stop preserving them. Speaking from personal experience, your future descendants will thank you for it. And that’s a promise.