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Leaving secrets and a personal instruction manual

Leaving secrets: how to create a personal instruction manual for life

By: Joe Vitale

Imagine if your great, great grandfather or grandmother had left you a book with their secrets for living. Maybe it contained nuggets of wisdom, yummy recipes, favorite jokes, or just insights for how to lead a good life. Ever since people learned of my book, Life’s Missing Instruction Manual, people are curious how to create their own “manual” for life.

You can leave such a book for your own family. What are the key lessons you’ve learned in your life? Are you ready to share them with your children and grandchildren – or with your friend, siblings, parents, and grandparents?

What you’ve gleaned from your life experiences can make things easier for your children or your relatives. In fact, the lessons you’ve earned from trial and error can be the perfect gift for everyone in your life – or for one person who matters to you. Here’s how to commit your insights to writing and share them with your fellow life travelers.

  • Carry a pad of paper around with you everywhere for a week.
  • Jot down your thoughts and observations as they occur to you. Don’t judge them. Just make note of them.
  • Add personal stories and memories, as they come to mind. Again, don’t edit your thoughts. Just commit them to paper.
  • Take a few days to go through your notes, and underline the most important passages, and make additional comments in the margins.
  • From this, distill the lessons you most want to share with others: your perspective, your values, what matters most to you, and your reactions to the world around you.
  • Find a beautiful journal or blank book – one that you feel a strong connection with. You might find it at a bookstore, an antique store, an online auction site, a craft store, or even a flea market. Where you find it doesn’t matter. How you feel about it does.
  • Fill the journal with your own instruction manual for life. Make sure to include a title and your name.
  • Find a special person to share it with, and turn the presentation of the journal into a celebration.

If you don’t feel comfortable writing your notes and stories, you can dictate them into a portable tape recorder, and later, you can transcribe them into a journal. You don’t have to be a bestselling author, academic, or philosopher to create a instruction manual that can helped your loved ones every day of their lives… and be passed on to future generations as well.

[author][author_info]About the Author

Joe Vitale is the author of Life’s Missing Instruction Manual (Wiley, March 2006). Read more about it at[/author_info] [/author]

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  1. Elizabeth

    October 31, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    This is such a great idea. I know I’ve enjoyed going back and reading things my grandparents and mom had written. Mom started a “about me/grandmother” type of journal but never finished it before she died. I treasure it so much even though there isn’t very much in it.

  2. Jacqueline

    October 21, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    This is a really fantastic idea. It was a good reminder that I need to start this now for my daughters and their families some day.

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