I was listening to an episode of “Happier” with Gretchen Rubin a few weeks ago, and she was talking about an interesting study. The study said that whatever you/we were doing for fun at 10 years old, is what you should be doing for your entire life.
Naturally, I got to thinking about what exactly I was doing when I was 10. It was 1995, and it was the summer between 5th and 6th grade.
During those times, I wore a lot of funky clothes, and I painted my nails all sorts of different colors at least once a week. I loved Gwen Stefani, reading, drawing, a making magazines using printing paper, crayons, and a stapler.
So, perhaps my dream of working at a magazine wasn’t so far fetched after all.
I did a little digging to see what else I could find about this theory. I stumbled across an article from Mark Manson, “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose“. Question no. 2 in the article is “What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?”
Here is Mark’s answer:
When I was a child, I used to write stories. I used to sit in my room for hours by myself, writing away, about aliens, about superheroes, about great warriors, about my friends and family. Not because I wanted anyone to read it. Not because I wanted to impress my parents or teachers. But for the sheer joy of it.
And then, for some reason, I stopped. And I don’t remember why.
We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we loved as a child. Something about the social pressures of adolescence and professional pressures of young adulthood squeezes the passion out of us. We’re taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it.
It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I rediscovered how much I loved writing. And it wasn’t until I started my business that I remembered how much I enjoyed building websites — something I did in my early teens, just for fun.
The funny thing though, is that if my 8-year-old self had asked my 20-year-old self, “Why don’t you write anymore?” and I replied, “Because I’m not good at it,” or “Because nobody would read what I write,” or “Because you can’t make money doing that,” not only would I have been completely wrong, but that 8-year-old boy version of myself would have probably started crying.
Even though he’s talking about his 8-year-old-self instead of his 10-year-old self… I’m totally buying into this concept. It makes total sense!
Of course, sure, we all have to accept the fact that perhaps our dreams aren’t going to be the things that pay the bills or make things happen the way we really hoped. But if what we did at 10 truly defines what we should do for the rest of our lives, then at least we’ve already discovered our life’s purpose, and can now work to fulfill it in some way.
So, what were you doing when you were 10? It might be worth exploring a little more if you’re not already.