Think back to a time in your life when you were carefree, when you believed you could do anything. How old were you? 10? 18? 22? Whatever the age, take a minute and tap back into that younger version of you. Are you there? Okay. Now ask your younger self how he/she feels about your life today. How does he/she feel about your home, family, work, and anything else your younger self had an opinion about. What about your life excites him or her? What about your life makes your younger self sad?
Recently I’ve had some of my clients answer these questions, and I’ve also answered them for myself. I find the responses fascinating, revealing, and quite motivating for implementing change. That’s why we ask the questions – to uncover whether we’re living a life that is truly fulfilling. When we’re younger and haven’t let the fears of the world and society creep into our decision making, we know anything is possible and are usually willing to go after what we want, without fear that it may not work out or fear of the consequences. Truth is, all that we once believed about our lives and our potential is still possible. We’ve just let fear, doubt, and life get in the way of achieving our greatness.
When we think back to what we, so many years ago, thought was possible and how that version of us feels about where we are today, a few things can happen: We remember what we once wanted and dreamed of having in life. We feel sad or disappointed about where we are versus where we thought we could be. We feel pride for how far we’ve come. We realize we have untapped potential for greatness still within us.
Here are some of the answers that I’ve heard in response to this question:
My younger self would think I’ve gone soft.
He’d think I’ve done okay, considering how little I started with.
She’d shake her head at how I’ve settled for less than I truly want in my marriage.
She’d be disappointed that I did not do what I truly wanted for my career.
He’d be sad that I’m so sad.
She’d be proud of me in some areas but disappointed that I let go of so many of my dreams.
What do you do with all this information? It depends on how you responded. For many of my clients the answers are often less than favorable (after all, people don’t hire a coach if their life is firing on all cylinders! They hire a coach when they are less than satisfied with how things are going in one or more areas of their life.) If you responded like some of the not-so-positive answers above, here are a few things you can do to get back in sync with the possibilities your younger self knew to be true about your life:
Whatever it is that your younger self is disappointed about, dig deeper. What would he or she have done differently? If you could choose from your younger perspective of limitless possibility and no fear, what would you do? And then…
Go do it
Or, some version of it. For example, one of my clients had an interrupted dream of being an Olympic gymnast. Her dream died at age 12, and now, at age 42, she isn’t going to be an Olympic gymnast. But, she can do things that align with that dream; for example, she can take an adult gymnastics class, teach youth or adult gymnastics, or simply do something to re-engage with that athletic side of herself.
Use the response as motivation
The biggest impact the responses to these questions have is as a motivator for change. If there’s an area of your life that’s making your younger self sad, what can you do to change it so he or she would feel proud. If your younger self is disappointed that you’ve settled for less than you deserve in your marriage, or if she’s sad because you didn’t fulfill your own desires when choosing your career, use that as motivation to make a change. Do the things that will make your younger self is proud and happy. It’s never too late to do the things to fulfill the potential he or she knew you had 10, 20, 30 years ago, before you let life get in the way. Will life get out of the way for you to make these changes? Probably not immediately, but once you set your intentions and begin to move, the Universe responds in accordance.
The other amazing thing that happens when you start to make these changes is your younger self energy rises within you. It’s a new burst of energy that arises to support you in realigning with the dreams and visions of your past – of the version of you who knew that you could do anything you set your mind and heart to. It’s still true today. You can do anything. Just ask your younger self.
This blog was originally featured in HuffPost on July 11, 2017.