Don’t worry, the title of this post doesn’t mean you have to tap into your inner Roman soldier, or the time you were a member of the Versailles court. It is all about this present life, and the clues you can find by thinking about the things you loved to do when you were a child.

While I firmly believe that change is possible for people (or I wouldn’t be doing what I do) it is also true that many of the things that interested us as children or teenagers continue to crop up throughout our lives, and can be an excellent indication of the kind of themes that will lead us to truly sustaining and satisfying work.

I had a client some years ago, a woman in her thirties who was a very unhappy corporate executive. On doing some exercises about her childhood interests, she reconnected with her old love of creating tea parties for her dolls and teddies. Nothing in that, you might think, but even aged four or five, she went much further than you or I probably would have – proper food, invitations, decorations, entertainment – and as many human guests as she could corral. Every week. This memory proved to be a vital link in her reinvention, leading to a new direction in events management. She was able to use her existing business skills, but in a field that had her abiding interest as well.

You may be reading this thinking, ‘I can’t remember my childhood’, and it’s true, many people struggle to recall their early years in any detail. However, as many of my clients have found, siblings, parents other close relatives or family friends can be a very useful source of information here. In fact, my tea party client reconnected with her five-year-old salon hostess via a conversation with a favourite aunt, who had lost none of her memories of helping to write the party invitations, having stimulating conversations with the teddy bear or doll she was seated next to – and the look of absolute delight on her young niece’s face.

How to tap into your past lives? Go back to the things that fired you up in childhood – the things that made you forget time passing, because you were lost in a pleasant daydream or totally absorbed in a ‘flow state’ activity. It’s like going on an archaeological dig…sifting through the layers between the present and the past, looking for clues that to understand a time in the past, and the links between then and now.

Think about these questions:

  1. What were your earliest memories when you did just what you wanted to do, no matter how unproductive or unimportant it seems to you now?
  2. Did you have a secret place as a child (e.g. under the bed, a tree, cubby house, corner of the garden…). What did you do there? What did you dream or think about?
  3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? It doesn’t matter how strange or unlikely or impossible it seems now (I wanted to be an alien space explorer…).

These can be big questions, with many layers. You might find things bubble away over the next week or so, with something coming to surface when you least expect it.

Joanna Maxwell


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