Who has books, journals and notepads on shelves that you haven’t looked at in years? Good, I’m not alone. A number of years ago I got a journal called A Fathers Legacy. I remember getting it, leafing quickly through it and saying to myself, “this is pretty cool, I wish my dad had done this for me.” I thought it would be a good project for me to do for my kids. I placed it on the shelf with tens of others of books and journals and promptly moved it a number of times as I rearranged my office and books over the years. Out of the blue as if someone flipped a switch, I recalled I had this journal and maybe it was time to do something with it. Seeing how successful I was at filling out the book on my own, I thought I would make it an online project that others can join me in doing and together when the project is complete we will have a journal that we can hand to our kids that will tell our story.
Here’s how the journal is laid out and how I will guide us through completing it over the next number of months. The journal is laid out by month. Each month there are a number of questions, one per page, that are meant to dig deeper into who you are, how you got to where you are at and what drove some of the decisions you’ve made
There are 12-15 questions per month (about 1 every two days). This makes it easy to manage for those of us who get overwhelmed with seeing a large project. As they say, eat the elephant one bite at a time. You can do as many or as few of the questions as you want but if you follow the plan, after 12 months you will have provided a very informative and insightful look into the man you are, past, present and future.
Over the past few years I have made a more conscientious effort to try and get to know my dad and who he really is. My parents divorced when I was three and as I’ve grown and matured (don’t ask my wife how much I’ve really matured 😉 some of the pain of his lack of involvement in my daily life growing up has eased. Some of that can be attributed to my attempt to understand why he did what he did? What kind of home did he grow up in? Did he ever want to go to college (he never went)? What did he want to be as a young boy when grew up? Did he have girlfriends? What sports did he play? Did his dad ever tell him that he loved him? Those were just some of the questions that I’ve asked him over the past few years. I’m glad that it’s helped me to better understand him. It doesn’t excuse him in anyway but it allows me to be a little more sympathetic of why he may have made some of the decisions he made. For many of us, our dads aren’t around to ask those questions of. My friend, Leary Gates (who’s been an author on the DadPad) shared a moving story about a conversation he had with his father late in his dads life. I’ll ask Leary to share that on an upcoming DadPad blog post. My kids have had the chance to understand a little more about me as I’ve been more intentional in telling them. But, there are a lot of things that I’d love to leave them when I’m gone. This journey of writing down answers to questions about my life will be a great memoir to leave with them.
So, are you in? Do you want to leave something more than a memory in you childrens minds about you? By walking through this project with me you will have a very interesting and well rounded narrative of your life that you can leave to your children as well as being able to share with them some of the more important lessons you want to share.
Here’s how the project will work. First, make sure you sign up to receive DadPad in your email inbox (just sign up with your email in the box at the top right of this page). Then, each Monday for the next year, I’ll share a few of the questions from this journal for you to answer. You can use the post to be your prompt as a reminder to answer those questions that week. I suggest you get a journal to keep your answers in or, if you want, purchase this journal with the readymade questions and space for answers built into the journal. It’s called, A Fathers Legacy; Your Life Story in Your Own Words. Do whatever is going to help you accomplish the goal of filling this out. Handwrite it, type it electronically and print it, etc. At the end of the year, I’ll have some kind of online hangout with those who did it with me and we can share what happened as we recalled things about our life and begin living with the end in mine, to quote a famous productivity guru.
I hope you’ll join me in this endeavor. I’ll be promoting this project all this week. Then, we begin next Monday, March 4. Let’s leave our kids a legacy about us that will help them understand us better, maybe help them avoid some of the mistakes we made and draw us closer together. Let’s roll, dads.