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A classic question to find out what you like

In the previous weeks, I was surprised by the effect that a classic question about motivation had on one of my coaching clients.

‘I have lost the sense of who I am’, he tells me at our intake. ‘And of what I want in life.’ Mat*, my coaching client, is in his mid-thirties and has recently been through several major life events. Moving houses, quitting his job, illness in the family.

‘Everyone around me has a stable career, partner, children. I don’t know how to make the right decisions for myself,’ he says. When he asks others for advice, he loses sense of direction. He is often ruminating, and his eyes look tired. He hasn’t been able to sleep that well lately.

How can he find out which direction to take in life and to not automatically follow what society tells us to do?

In our sessions, I ask him many questions about his thoughts, feelings, and preferences. I give him exercises to reflect and get to know himself better. Together, we search for what makes him Mat.

Then one of the questions I ask really strikes him. ‘What kind of activities did you enjoy doing as a child?’ I ask. He pauses and stares at me through the screen. His eyes light up, he sits upright and smiles. ‘Wow, that is an interesting question. I was playful, silly, energetic. I was funny! How different from what I am today.’

The effect of this classic question on him was uplifting. He started looking for that zest in life that he remembered and integrated it in his current life. His confidence grew as he started to make decisions that felt like getting his playfulness back in life.

What I love about coaching is that I keep learning from my clients as well. Mat reminded me of the value of this classic question, and the importance of allowing yourself to be who you were when you were a playful child.

What did you enjoy doing as a child?

*A fictitious name and anonymised story


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