On our quest to find a fulfilling career, our younger selves can serve as amazing guides.
When we were young, the world was our oyster. We had likes and dislikes, and images of our adult selves that we came up with before the world told us how we "should" be.
We had this little internal compass that pointed us towards things that felt good to us on a soul-level - even though we didn't necessarily know the term "soul-level" at the time. We just did what felt natural, what felt right for us. We didn't worry about whether or not that would turn into an "acceptable" career path one day.
Yet, as we grew older, many of us may have felt the pull of that inner compass weaken as we received more information from the outside world. We took in messaging and imagery about how we "should" be and what we "should" do in the world - rather than what we naturally felt drawn to.
For each of us, this likely resulted in a various beliefs affecting our view of ourselves, our bodies, the people around us, our definitions of success, etc. For many of us, these external messages had a huge impact on our career paths.
We were shown by family, teachers, friends, advertising messages, etc. what "acceptable" careers looked like. While our little internal compass may have tried to speak up, often those external messages created a strong directional pull that differed from our internal one. We were told which professions made the most money, which would be seen as successful, which we'd be "good" at.
When you're being told by so many external sources that something is true, it can be hard to believe otherwise.
As a result, we find often find ourselves down paths that our younger selves never could have imagined.
This isn't to say that the paths we end up on are "bad" or that the people we love who provided external messaging were malicious in any way. They were often full of the best intentions - and those alternate paths we end up on can be the biggest learning experiences of our lives.
Yet, there often comes a point in our lives where we start to tune into the pull of that little internal compass again. It can seemingly come out of nowhere (although I'd argue it's been there the whole time, we just didn't feel it's strength the same way).
It's that feeling we get that causes us to question what we are doing with our lives. That moment we are sitting at our desk and start to wonder what life would be like if we did anything but this.
At this point, we can feel the pull of our internal compass, but we don't necessarily know what direction it's pointing in.
This is where the fun part (read hard work) begins. This is where many of my clients come to me - and where I started my journey to become a coach: feeling stuck, knowing deep down that there is a different way, but having no idea what that way is.
Calling on the wisdom of our younger selves is a great way to start gaining clarity on this newly revived directional pull.
Our younger selves often hold a lot of the answers we're seeking for our present and future selves.
For me, my younger self always wanted to help other people. She felt best when she was helping a friend through a problem or cheering someone on as they accomplished something big.
I was reminded of this by my mom right before I quit my corporate job to start my coaching business. I was on my way home from work and having a breakdown to her over the phone due to my fear of taking the leap.
She stopped me and said, "Honey, let me remind you of something you probably don't remember. You came home from school one day in 6th grade and said, 'Mom, all of my friends need me to solve their problems. I might as well do this for a living!'"
And just like that the words of my younger self hit me. I was meant to do this. I was meant to become a coach and to help other women reconnect with themselves and create the lives they want to be living. I knew back in 6th grade that my career should focus on helping others.
When I think about it, that desire to help other people that my younger self knew so well was the reason I went to college for psychology and thought I was going to be a therapist. It's the reason why during my sales career, the products I enjoyed selling the most were those I felt were truly helping the buyer do their job better.
Looking back, it's been a through-line in my life and continues to be today. I may have lost the language to describe it for a while and may not have felt its pull as strongly at times, but it was always there underneath, gently guiding me in the right direction.
Reconnecting with your younger self
If you're feeling stuck with where you are career wise right now and are feeling a pull in a different direction than you're currently headed, reconnect with your younger self.
Take some time to get quiet with her and reflect on what made her love life, what she pictured doing as an adult. Ask yourself:
Who did my younger self want me to be?
What were the things that younger me felt drawn to before external opinions prompted her to second-guess herself?
By re-familiarizing yourself with her, you may get some fantastic clue as to what sort of career you might find fulfilling.
For example, maybe your younger self wanted to be an astronaut. While this exact profession may no longer interest you, ask yourself what about the job description do you still find appealing? Adventure? Discovering new things? Attention to detail? Being on a small team? Defying gravity (literally or figuratively)?
Once you get clear on the values and interests of your younger self, you don't have to be literal about how they apply to a job (ex. "My younger self wanted to be an astronaut so I guess I should become an astronaut...").
Instead, open up your mindset as to how these can apply to your adult life and career.
There are plenty of professions that involve the characteristics from the astronaut example here on Earth - you don't have to go to space for them. Although if you realize that you really want to go up there, then by all means have at it.
Applying the knowledge from your younger self to your adult life can help you start finding authentic direction in your career - setting yourself up for fulfillment, rather than frustration or confusion.
She has a lot of knowledge if you're willing to get back in touch with her.
Want some help getting back in touch with your younger self or translating what you learn from her into a career path? Let's chat! I'd love to hear about younger you and help you use her wisdom to your advantage as an adult!