Lisa Manterfield

The Plan B Life

Childhood Play: The Key to Finding Your Natural Gifts

Rediscover childhood passions to take you in a new direction.

Posted Jul 21, 2011

Boys bouncing

It's fun to reminisce about silly childhood games, but that playtime could hold the key to rekindling your passion and figuring out your Plan B Life.

In her classic motivational book, Live the Life you Love, Barbara Sher suggests tapping into your childhood memories to uncover your gifts. Sher maintains that skills-the talents we usually turn to when planning a change of direction-are often learned out of necessity. Gifts, on the other hand, are things we are naturally good at or passionate about. It's these gifts that show us who we really are and who we could be in the future.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Is your music still in you? How do you uncover your natural gifts, especially when they may have been dormant for a long time?

Kids skating

Make a list and then examine the feelings you experienced from doing those things. Do you see any patterns in the outcomes that motivated you? Did you love to create and experiment? Did you crave freedom and adventure? Or did you always want to relate to other people and connect with them in some way?

About ten years ago, I was working in finance, spending my evenings writing and trying to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life. When I worked through the exercises Barbara Sher laid out in her book, my list of childhood loves included playing card games, identifying flowers, roller-skating, playing the trombone-and of course, going on dangerous adventures. None of these were sound choices for a major career change, but when I looked at what I loved about these pastimes, I saw a pattern-freedom, challenge, learning, self-expression, and communication. When I imagined taking those passions into a new career and fantasized what would happen five and then ten years later, some common threads appeared. Whether I began my fantasy career as a trick roller-skater, an international adventurer, or a world-famous magician, my true nature led me to share what I'd learned through writing, presenting, and teaching. Ten years later, I'm living the life I love. I'm not climbing mountains or lobbying to make Roller Derby an Olympic sport, but I'm writing books and articles, and teaching workshops-a passion that was always in me from my days under the dining room table.

If you're searching for a new direction and wondering what will make you tick, take some time to examine your childhood memories. You may discover a forgotten passion and break open ideas for a new Plan B life.