Updated: May 15, 2020
Most likely, if you’re reading this, you’re long past the age when you would be expected to make a career decision. Maybe you even have 10 or 15 years of career in your ‘pocket’. But if you’re like many of my clients, you do not feel genuinely fulfilled with what the work environment has provided so far.
Sometime along the way, you lost sight of your earliest dreams and passions. That’s why, this week, I have decided to share a personal story and, hopefully, some inspiration to those vagabond souls in search of their life’s purpose.
The Childhood Self
When I was four years old — before my brother came into this world and I had someone to share my adventures with — I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ farm in Santa Fe, Argentina. Those days were full of creativity and fun; I dreamt up a world in which I had it all.
In those days, I was a serial entrepreneur. Every morning, I learned from my grandma the fundamentals of commerce and market exchanges. She taught me to count chickens and eggs and to ration food from the different sources we had on the farm.
After some time, I realised being a full-time businessperson was exhausting and (for me) it was often dull (numbers were never my forte). So, I took a break from that imaginary profession and became a famous TV chef instead. I cooked little ‘chocolate’ cakes made of water, soil and flowers from my granny’s garden. I talked to my imaginary audience about how to make delicious cakes for family and friends. I wanted to make them feel what I was preparing with my hands and taste how wonderful I imagined it tasted. With a covert camera in front of me, the show was in my hands; and those beautiful creations were SO real to me that I could feel the audience’s reactions like they were real, too.
After the cakes were made and the show was off-air, I discarded my apron to continue creating by taking some of my grandma’s magazines. There I was looking at ideas and started imagining the world of clothing, design and fashion. Consequently, I was “begging” to granny to make those dresses for me with her Singer machine. Eventually, many times, she arrived “close” to what I designed.
When business, Tv chef and fashion designer was overrated, I was taking a break and going on maternity leave. How? The farm cat was my baby (he was taken to my womb by being hidden under my pullover)-, the cow my maid, and the horse my carriage to transport me to different places in my imaginary world.
Some hours passed by, lunchtime was around the corner and had to go back to the house to eat those delicious preparations that we had served. Dessert time arrived, and I was ready to jump again to my next adventure. What was that? A teacher, with imaginary pupils that I used to call ‘alundos’(a distortion of alumnos, which means pupil in Spanish, my mother tongue). In my mind, they were there, sitting next to each other, talking to each other, playing, not paying attention to what I was teaching and having a lot of fun. But I wanted them to behave better, so with my four-year-old voice I nagged them, sent them to the corner to think about their behaviour and how to be respectful; all this was happening in my head.
No wonder I am the creative person I am today!
Something that also was always in my speech was the fact that I was going to live somewhere else, far far away. My mom remembers me saying that since a very early age and she still wonders today how I came up with that idea. Imagination! It is my only guess.
In that childhood world of make-believe, I created everything that made me happy. My paycheck was freedom, change and, most importantly, the possibility of creating whatever I wanted when I wanted. That was when the meaning of ‘success’ took shape for me.
Returning to the Inner Child
Thirty years passed, and I went on many adventures in my life: travelled the world, developed a career in Marketing & Communications and Coaching — created endless ideas- made many life discoveries and faced many challenges on my journey to unlocking my real passion. It was not easy, and to succeed, I had to return to that little Vicky and look through her eyes, to see what I wanted to become.
Funny, isn’t it? That the key to my happiness was always there, in the foundations of who I was going to become — in the imaginary world of a four-year-old girl who had not yet discovered the world but had created the world for herself, even before she could make it happen. It seems that little Vicky knew it all from the very beginning, while grown-up Vicky had to explore the outer world before making her return and reconnecting with her inner self.
So… now it’s your turn. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Here is an exercise designed to help you figure out the answer to that question.
Exercise: Reconnecting with Your Inner Child
Take out a notebook and answer the following questions:
· What made you happy when you were a child (say, four or five years old)? What games did you play? What toys did you play with during your happiest times?
· What were you most curious about, as a child? What excited you? What drove you crazy with happiness?
· What did you want to be as a grown-up?
This exercise is designed to help you rediscover who you were as a child. If you do not remember much about being that young, think about when you were a little older, maybe seven or eight years old. Make your best effort to answer accurately. You may also wish to ask family or friends if they remember the answers to these questions. If you find objects/pictures/videos to aid your memory, even better!
Now ask yourself:
· What made your eyes sparkle, as a child, and are you still doing those things today?
· Are you following your earliest dreams and passions?
· How do you connect with that ‘inner child’ today?
Go through this exercise as many times as you need. What is crucial here is to bring your best friend back with you — and that means YOU when you were a kid.
I invite you to be curious, to amaze yourself, as you complete the exercise outlined above. Maybe this will be the beginning of your journey to discovering how to become a better version of yourself.
Vicky Martinez Dorr is a qualified Branding Consultant, Business and Leadership Coach, Speaker and Author with certifications in NLP and TimeLine Therapy® and Magna Cum Laude from Solvay Business School in Brussels, Belgium. With her universe of words, she is on a quest towards helping leaders reconnect with themselves, thrive and move towards an exemplary leadership world.
Her 15+ years of MarCom experience in International Branding and Multicultural Leadership have taught her how to bring efficiency out of chaos in any organisation and people's professional lives.
Her findings within the fragmented leadership, have moved her to start working towards a more authentic business world and more humane leadership culture. Vicky is also an Artist, a serial Entrepreneur, CEO of the Start Up www.yourbrandstory.eu and Founder of www.atreefortheplanet.org LinkedIn: https://be.linkedin.com/in/vickymartinezdorr Reach out at Shine@vickymartinezdorr.com
*Revised version from 2017.