Look back before moving forward: It’s counter-intuitive; I know. Particularly when you’re raring to go with your life change. Yet it’s absolutely essential that you take time to understand where you’ve come from, before moving forward. You can do this lightly, and quickly. Or deeply and thoroughly. And there’s many different ways.
Read on to discover 7 reasons why this is so important, and get started on your review with my 3 best life review questions… (Really, they’re about 23!)
In my years of life and change coaching, I have guided quite a few clients through reviewing their life so far, before envisioning where they want to go next.
For them, it’s always an insightful experience. Cathartic, sometimes. Even emotional.
For me, it’s always moving to hear their life stories:
I feel privileged to be trusted to witness them. And totally awed by what people go through and come through in their lives. By the richness of their experience. By what makes them, and what almost breaks them. By the peaks and troughs, joy and despair in their stories. By their fighting, surviving and coming back. By their journey, and their courage to become and be themselves – regardless of what stands in their way. It’s a testament to the human spirit, and to every single person I have worked with on this!
Why review your life before starting on your next vision?
Why look back before looking forward?
There are many reasons. I’ll give them to you quick:
- It allows you to step back, put things in perspective, and get a real and clear picture of your life so far.
- It provides a starting point, and a frame to your explorations about the future you want to create for yourself.
- You get to stop and really take in where you’ve come from: Accept, honour and cherish your life as uniquely yours.
- You can draw a lot of learning, clues and insights from your life so far: about yourself, and about the kind of future life that is right for you.
- You’ll find the chapters that still need closing, or mourning, or letting go – and can resolve them before moving forward.
- You’ll discover meaning, themes and patterns; what might propel you forward, and what might hold you back.
- You might well shift your views on certain things.
Many of my clients come to me unhappy about where they are in their life, and wanting change. And when they review their life so far, they are often lifted by the realisation that, actually, they’ve been fortunate. Or it’s been a good life, so far, all in all. Some see that they’ve made the most of their life against odds that were stacked against them. Others acknowledge how difficult and marked by pain their life has been. And how strong they’ve been to survive some things that happened to them.
Embracing the real picture of your life so far is like wiping the slate of your life clean again.
Before you start writing the next chapter.
Not to make what’s happened disappear, but to store it, consciously, as your sustenance, as your resource.
Have I whetted your appetite to do your own life review? There are many ways in which you can do that.
To get you started, I thought I’d share…
My 3 best life review questions (They’re 23, really!)
Reflect on them, or write about them, repeatedly, over time. Let them churn within you a bit, so more and deeper things emerge than just your first thoughts.
Sharing your answers and insights is powerful, too: It’ll move you on inside yourself. You could talk to a trusted friend or family member about them. Or work with a coach, who will not have an agenda or judgment about your life, and will ask further questions to help you draw out meaning from your reflections. And help you collect pointers towards the future you might want to create.
The questions I propose here that you ask yourself are but a starting point. They are by no means the only questions you could ask, and there are many other useful, challenging and insightful questions I use in my coaching practice. I tailor them specifically to each of my clients, and the art, really, is in finding the ones that will bring out the most meaningful points for them, and move their journey forward most.
If you’re reviewing your life on your own, I still hope that the questions here will give you a sense of the direction they’re wanting to point your thinking towards. You can work them through systematically, or come up with your own questions that share these three intentions, or both!
So, here goes:
1 What are the significant events of your life?
Highs, lows, important people you met, stuff that happened to you, places you saw, experiences you had, insights and realisations, changes of direction, and so on… The good, the bad, and the ugly!
Chart them on a piece of paper, in whatever way you like – a diagram, or a drawing, or a collage. Make it an overview, featuring the events that most stand out, rather than a super-detailed picture.
What was their significance? In what ways have they shaped you? What have you learnt from them?
Be real, be honest. There’s nobody watching – or, rather, only people you trust, right?
Finally, consider this: What do they tell you about yourself, and about what’s really important to you in life?
Which of these need to come with you into the life you want to create for your future?
2 What’s the theme of your life?
Now step back and look at the picture your life from a bit of a distance.
What do you see? What theme emerges? Is your life one of steady growth? A roller coaster ride of ups and downs? About fighting for a breakthrough? One step forwards, two steps back? A gentle meander?
If you had to describe your life so far with one single word or short sentence – what would you say? If your life was a film title, or the name of a book – what would it be?
Write it down. And if you’re feeling inspired, try coming up with a theme or title for your life as it is today, too. And write that next to it.
Finally: Can you now peer into the future, and write down the theme or title for the life you want to create for yourself then?
3 What do you need to let go?
Sometimes we drag things with us from our past, that prevent us from moving forward into our future – and, in the busy-ness of our daily life, we are not even aware of it. So this question is about surfacing such things – and closing any chapter of the past that is still unnecessarily open.
The kind of questions that will surface this are:
What business is still unfinished? What do you still need to get over? What are you still mourning and grieving? Which old habits, resentments, or grudges that do not serve you anymore are you still carrying?
What will you need to do, in order to have that clean slate (with your past stored as your resource) from which to start creating your future life?
Over to you now
How did you get on with your life review? What’s emerged for you? Please do share your comments below!
My next post in this series of posts, 6 Steps to a Life You Love – My Ultimate How To Guide to Changing Your Life, is Step 2: Create a Snapshot of You
Want to review the previous step? Hop back to Step 0: Create Space
Want to remind yourself of all Six Steps in sequence? Check out 6 Steps to a Life You Love: My Ultimate How To Guide to Changing Your Life
Why not get my structured, intuitive and empathetic coaching help?
And get your change underway.
I specialise in working with people who are at crossroads and don’t know what they want to do next in their life. You don’t have to know what you want, in order to work with me.
Indeed, I can help you explore and find out what that is, and then make the changes you need, in order to move into a life you want and love. All with more ease than if you were to do it on your own. I will guide you through my 6 Steps to a Life You Love process – tailored to you. Giving you the space for your change.
So you can stress less and move forward in your life – at your own pace!