February 28, 2024

A Practice: Questions for Life Review

These questions are intended to help you examine your life to discover meaning and purpose, no matter where you are in life's journey.

If you find yourself in a time of transition – perhaps your youngest child just left for college, or you are recently divorced, or you are approaching retirement – the process of life review provides insight into who you are, letting your life speak (Parker Palmer). This process can be used as a simple reflection or as a guide toward your next project, whether it be volunteer, vocation, family, or something else.  Ask yourself…

  • Who are you, and who are you meant to become?
  • How do you understand what it means to live well?
  • What and who are truly meaningful to you?

These questions are intended to help you discover and are adapted from Clark University’s Life Review Manual, based on the work of Dr. Robert Butler, whose work is further developed by Dr. William Damon in his book, A Round of Golf with My Father, and in Season 1, Episode 11 of the With & For podcast.

Directions: Grab paper and pen or talk with a close friend about the following aspects of your life.

1) Where did you grow up?

2) What was your community like growing up?

3) What kind of schooling did you have?

4) What were your parents/step-parents like?

5) Are there particular things about your parents, or expectations from your parents that influenced you?

6) Did you have any brothers or sisters? What are/were they like? Are you similar? In what ways?

7) How would you describe your passions and joys during your childhood?

8) What was it like when you were a teenager? What were you interested in?

9) Did you marry?  At what age?  If not, why not?

10) What is/was your marriage like?

11) What was your first job? Did you like it?

12) Have you had a career? Describe it.  Was it satisfying?

13) Did you have children? Did you enjoy raising them?

14) What is your relationship like with your children?

15) Who else are you close to? What is it about them that makes you feel connected?

16) Who have been the most influential people at various stages in your life?  Why?  When?  What were you doing at that time?

17) Who are the important people in your life now?

18) If you had to pick one person who had a major impact on your life, who would it be?  Why?

19) How have your friendships changed through the years?

20) What makes you content or happy now?



Butler, Robert N. and Myrna I. Lewis. 1982. Aging and Mental

Health.  St. Louis, MO:  Mosby.

Butler, Robert. 1974. “Successful Aging and the Role of the

Life Review.” Journal of American Geriatric Society


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