A lot of self-help books recommend reflecting on what you enjoyed doing at 9. The argument is that this is the time period before you worried about what was cool or right to do, and you were being your truest self.
I chatted with my mom and am happy to report that, in this regard at least, I have not strayed too far from my character. She said I liked to read, ride my bike and play with Barbies.
What do I do now? Read, write, ride my bike, do yoga and shop for cool and inexpensive clothes (“I am my own Barbie” sounds like a great title for an off-Broadway play).
I reflected a bit further and realized I also used to feed strays in the neighborhood and had a cat follow me home on more than one occasion. I’m currently fostering a dog that has pushed me into a borderline hoarding situation, so it seems as if I’m still letting my soft heart get me into trouble in that regard.
Reflecting on what I used to do for fun (and still enjoy) has helped me make broader decisions in my life as well. I’ve worked myself into a position where I’ll be largely debt-free in about five years, which has given me the freedom to think, “What would I do if money was not as important?” (I’m not a Kardashian, so I will still have to work).
A lot of this reflection has gone back to 9-year-old Rachel. What did she want to do? She wanted to write. She wanted to be active. She wanted to help her fellow creatures on the planet Earth. How much does my current job allow her to do that?
The truth is, not much.
Thus, I’ve been able to, for the first time in my life, put together a long-term plan for where I ultimately want to be (details to come in a later blog).
It has also helped me consider current decisions. Since I work for a university, I can take up to 8 credit hours free each semester, and I have considered starting a PhD program. While I have not yet ruled it out, I’ve been wondering… why do I want to do this? Will it help me reach my ultimate goals of writing, being active and helping my fellow creatures? If not, why do I want this PhD. Is it ego? Is it because it’s what society says I should do? I have not yet ruled it out, but until I can answer these questions, I’m not ruling it in either.
This process has been invaluable for me, so I suggest you all try it–even if you’re not facing any major decisions in the future:
- What did you like doing as a kid? Ask your parents, if you don’t remember.
- Do you still give yourself time to do these things? If not, can you?
- Dig deeper. We spend at least 40 hour of our lives at work each week. How much of that time is spent doing something you actually enjoy doing?
- We all need money, and a job is a job is a job, but can you plan for a time when you will be able to live a life truer to your core self in the future? Even if it’s retirement?
If you reflect on these things before you are faced with a major life decision, it may be easier to work through the problem.
Let me know what you think below and tell me what you enjoyed at 9! Since I’m writing a book (yay!) these posts may be shorter for awhile, but I hope you find them helpful.