Themes, Dreams And Life Story
One of the favored techniques in personal development in adult education is that of the life story. It is often a powerful way for people to connect to long lost dreams and to notice patterns in their life.
What may not be so well known is its power as a way to reveal what you were born to do, what your work blueprint is. Laura Berman Fortgang (in her book Now What? Uncover Your Life Blueprint) describes three tools to use with your life story to elicit meaning from it:
First of all, if you plan to do this exercise, here are some guidelines: Keep it short (3-4 pages). Write it in bullet points. Also you could group it in some way. Some do it chronologically (5 year intervals). But I have also seen people do it by where they live. Write it over a couple of days and just let yourself remember what you remember (the story you write today is different from the story you would have written 6 months ago).
When you have written the story, read it back and watch for the following:
- Driving motivators: These are often old-standing patterns that can keep you stuck. An example of that would be a woman who noticed from her life story that a constant theme was that of checking out. She felt that she could not cope with difficulties at home and school, and would simply withdraw into her own world while conflict and arguments swirled around her. This helped her through, but was now keeping her stuck.
- Interrupted Dreams: This is a dream you may have had as a child, but somehow it got forgotten along the way. It is often linked to creativity and play. I once had a client who had a long history of playing music since he was a small boy but when I read his life story, I was struck by its absence. When I drew this to his attention, he remembered how much he enjoyed it and began to connect with it again.
- Golden Threads: These could be jobs, situations, roles that you notice emerging and repeating themselves throughout your life. For example, one woman noticed that a theme of loving scientific stuff emerged over and over again.
So once you have done this exercise … how can it help you identify your ideal work? Well, here are some ideas to get you started.
If you have identified any interrupted dreams, explore ways to resuscitate them. For example, if your dream was to be a great sportswoman and you are now in your 40’s, it’s probably unlikely you will train for the Olympics, but what you can do is look around for some sports that you could begin to engage with again.
If you have noticed any driving motivators that are no longer helping you, why not consider getting some help to clear them. And, if you have been struck by the presence of a golden thread, why not consider interviewing someone working in that field or exploring the possibility of a sideways move (e.g. if you are interested in working in the non-profit field but your skills are of an accountant … why not explore the idea of working as an accountant in a non-profit organization).