Vivid memories of personal experiences provide models for present activities and contribute to successful problem solving and adaptation. The memories serve important directive functions: they inform, guide, motivate, and inspire. Yet directive functions have received less emphasis in the research literature than social or self functions. Explanations for this relative neglect are explored. Case studies and systematic research illustrate the prominence of memory directives in everyday life. Empirical studies that have compared memory functions are examined critically, reasons why directive functions may be underestimated using existing methods are discussed, and ideas for future research are outlined.