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An Interview With Yourself

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From time to time, it’s good to have a conversation with yourselfโ€”maybe even an interview. This is how you do it.

First, sit yourself down wherever you like to sit. Get coffee or your drink of choice. Turn off the distractions and take it seriously. (Wouldn’t you take another interview seriously?)

Then you open the conversation like this:

Dear self, you are x years old. What do you have to show for it? Are you living the dream?

As you look back on your life, what are you most proud of, what do you regret, and how do you feel about each of those things? Here are a few follow-ups:

  • What’s next, self?
  • Why do you do the things you do every day?
  • What do you really believe in? (What do you know to be true?)
  • Where do you find your security?
  • What bothers you, and what are you doing about it?
  • What worries you?
  • If you had one year left to live, how would you spend it?

***

Of course, when you interview yourself, you can customize the interview however you see fit. The point is to make sure you know why you’re doing what you do, and if you should make any changes. Simple, except when it’s not.

Here’s wishing you all a great Monday. Over here, I’m working full-time on a single project this week. Rare for me, I know, but once in a while I manage to take the time to focus. It’s kind of like asking questions of yourself: hard but good.

Are you satisfied with your answers?

###

Image: DH

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65 Comments

  • Eduard says:

    I have done this exercise (out a a restaurant, in a very stylish place, cause context is important for me) and it has some impressive results. Funny how knowing yourself better can improve all sort of areas in your life. I wrote about this yesterday.

  • Rich Dixon says:

    What a simply GREAT notion. This sort of deep idea is exactly the reason I look forward to your stuff.

    I’m going to schedule this interview for tomorrow. Might be the perfect way to get un-stuck.

    I like simplicity and complexity–this combines them beautifully. Thanks.

  • Mark Dowdell says:

    Asking yourself why you certain things every day is an indispensable question for figuring out what you want out of life. If you step back and realize that something just isn’t working, then you’ll know that it’s time to move onto something else, even if it will take a ton of effort to do so. It’s the dedication to making a change that needs to be embraced, even if it means doing something that’s socially questionable.

    If you don’t do a self re-evaluation every once in a while, you’ll wander off your path.

    Thanks for the awesome (and concise!) post, Chris.

  • Angela says:

    It’s my birthday today. I’m 42. What a perfect day to interview myself!

    Me: When did you leave school?
    Self: 1985.
    Me: Wow…that’s like what…twenty-five years ago? Jeez leweez, that’s a long time ago!
    Self: Waaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh! *runs screaming for the hills*
    Me: What’d I say?

  • Tim W says:

    Can you share some resources on how someone can discover his passion? That’s something I’ve been struggling with for a long time.

    There are lots of things I enjoy doing, but I haven’t yet found the thing(s) I LOVE doing for which I can also earn a decent living.

    Any thoughts, insights and/or resources you can provide are greatly appreciated!

  • Karol Gajda says:

    Wow Chris. I’m good at tackling these questions in written form (journaling), but I’ve never vocalized. I like that approach.

    How often do you happen to do these interviews with yourself? When you feel like you need to change something? Or is it at set intervals like your annual review?

  • pj finn says:

    Discovered your blog a while back and find it to be a great read and inspiration. Interesting idea — self-interview. I’m going through much of that questioning, again, though in a little different form. Good stuff. Thanks, man.

  • I like this idea.
    I’ve already thought about it but never took action upon it.
    For ages I’ve realised that i’m quite good to give advice to the others. But it’s not that easy to give yourself the right advice.
    Your idea of a real interview with myself comes in the nick of time !
    I’m going to schedule regular meetings with myself – provided “I” is free ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Heather Rae says:

    I love the idea of ‘interviewing’ yourself. It’s so important to stop and check in with yourself every once in a while to see where you’re at and where you want to go. Otherwise, it’s too easy to lose track of the big picture — of the things that really matter to you. Life is short; we should all find ways to live it exactly the way we would like.

  • Bonnie says:

    Thanks for bringing this up, Chris. I’ve been trying to schedule 10 minutes with myself before work each morning to ask questions like these.

    This one’s a great suggestion — I’m adding it to my morning list: “If you had one year left to live, how would you spend it?”

    — Bonnie

  • I really like this idea, especially the “If I only had one year to live” bit. I don’t have conversations nearly enough to maintain focus on what it is I want to do and an interview with myself sounds like a good way to do just that. One problem I usually face with the “Are you living the dream?” question is that I can’t help but compare myself to others. I’m 22, almost 23. Steve Jobs had Apple by the time he was my age. So I think for me it would be more important to ask “Are you living the dream” after all the other questions. After I’ve defined what my dream is.

  • Casie Jun says:

    Wow, this is so ironic. I woke up this morning and stayed in bed finalizing the decision to major in what I love (and what I’m willing to work hard for) versus what is going to help me secure a job more easily after college. I originally was an English major but everyone from family/friends kept telling me how I wouldn’t make a lot of money, only option would be to become a teacher, and is a useless major. So I switched to Resource Economics. . .big mistake. Only now I’m realizing how important reading and writing is to me. It took me a while to see the amount of money I spend on books is way more than most girls spend on clothes. Now I’m going back to English. Thank you!

  • I have interviewed myself, for my book. My book is based on interviews so I thought that I’d interview myself to see how I would respond to the same questions. And I was really honest with myself, and the interesting thing is this, people who have my book, they look through the Table of Contents and see Avil’s Interview and think what’s that so they read it first. Here are the questions that I asked myself and answered:

      Describe a business challenge that you had and how you resolved it.
      What lessons did you learn in the process?
      How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
      What’s a major regret that you’ve had in life?
      In your opinion what’s the formula for success?
      What’s your favorite quotation and why?
      Which book had a profound impact on your life?

    I am still interviewing people and now I ask 40 questions. People who have gone through the process have told me it is a process of self-discovery. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Karen Starr says:

    A huge smile just spread across my face as I read this, thanks for that Chris! I’m looking forward to sitting down with this later!

  • “If you had one year left to live, how would you spend it? ”

    THAT is such a great question that one should ask regularly & maybe even shorter versions like even 6 months, a month, a week. or day.

    If one does that and is honest with the answer, one can lead a life that is “on purpose” and not just in some busy lane.

    As I approach my 58th birthday this month, I can tell you, life is short, remember to really live it! Don’t waste ANY of it!

  • Mike Willner says:

    Am I living the dream? Let’s see. Revenue is barely keeping up with expenses. Can’t figure out why my internet connection keeps going down. And my manufacturer is dissin’ me as usual. On the other hand, I don’t have a boss (other than my wife, my kids, and my customers), I’m doing what I love, and I have a shot at making it big some day (or at least reaching profitability). Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

  • Kate says:

    The last question–What would you do if you had a year left to live?–was the one that prompted me to let go of my job teaching English and to move into doing the work that I love. I’m with Mike Willner–revenue can be a total rollercoaster, glitches happen throughout the day, etc., but at the end of it I still feel better getting up in the morning and doing something I’m 100% fully alive doing, something I’m passionate about. Thanks for the questions! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Devin says:

    I like this one for two reasons. I need a little more motivation than what I have been having over the last couple of weeks and, irony of ironies, I just finished reading “the Last Lecture” last night. The story of the professor who who is asked to write a lecture acting as if he knew it would be his last. The day before he discovered he had terminal cancer.

    While I didn’t love the book for a variety of reasons. I definitely found it motivating and touching.

    I will take both Randy Pausch and your advice.

  • Chris Jordan says:

    This is great! I’m doing this right now. How timely your article is for me and my situation. I’m facing some tough external decisions, and I’ve got to get a handle on the internal stuff first.

  • This post, Chris, was a wisp of nostalgia for me. When I was growing up, my mom would always say, “It’s okay if you talk to yourself. It’s even okay if you ask yourself questions. Just don’t answer them! You might not like what you hear.” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I am glad to see you got rid of the question about regret. How can one regret a decision. that decision was the correct decision at the time for whatever reason. that decision is the decision that brought you to this place right now.

    Some good additional questions, what is working right now? What and where are the places for which I have the greatest feeling of gratitude at this time?

    Thanks for the post

  • Greg Blencoe says:

    Chris,

    You suggest opening the conversation with the following questions:

    “Dear self, you are x years old. What do you have to show for it? Are you living the dream?”

    One thing I’ve learned is that I am most likely to regret what I don’t do. While everything I have done has not always worked out like I expected, I have always been happy that I chose to do it.

    This helps me a lot when making decisions right now. While I definitely think things through, when a decision needs to be made I am most likely to just go for it.

    No regrets!!!

  • All of your posts are very thought provoking, Chris. I love reading them. I don’t always comment, but that doesn’t mean they are any less awesome. I always take something positive away.

    This is so important to do, but wouldn’t have thought of it, if not for you. I am 60 yrs. and it’s time to ask some of these questions of myself. I don’t know if I will love the answers, but it’s about time I get them.

    Thank you for this post.
    Warm wishes to you!

  • Mario says:

    Great post Chris! I do this every week – it helps LOTS!

    Just one extra suggestion: don’t speak or think, WRITE. You’ll have a better conversation with yourself if you write it all down (like a stream of thought). That has worked wonders for me.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Jill says:

    Thanks for yet another inspiring idea Chris! I have an interview scheduled with myself this evening

    @ Tim W…I was in the same boat as you only a few months ago…I knew what I loved to do but not what I loved to do that I could make a living at. I kept trying to make my passions fit into these money making opportunities, but nothing worked, and in the end I just felt inauthentic and unsatisfied.

    Finally I changed my purpose of doing my passion from “making money” to “being happy” and the opportunities started pouring in. I had been so distracted by trying to fit myself in someone else’s ideas that I was missing all of the opportunities that naturally were waiting right in front of me. By taking that leap of faith and following my heart, everything else began to fall into place. Yes, its hard work, but hard work doing what makes me happy, and that doesn’t feel like work at all!

    I hope this helps out! Have fun and good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Ash says:

    Love it. Here’s a related example I did back in December, in preparation for 2010! It’s really has the power to put things into the necessary perspective. Definitely would recommend doing.

  • melissa says:

    Do you have any advice for the post-interview “oh shit, I have so much to do and so little time!”

  • Malwina says:

    End of 2009 I pretty much overhauled my life and am now building up my own small business, doing what I enjoy. I used to ask myself “what would you do if you won the lottery?” and I’d fantasize about it. Now I usually think that I’d do exactly what I’m doing: sewing, crafting, making beautiful things…
    I think it’s not only important to ask those questions, but also to act if the responses aren’t satisfying.

  • Wow, what simple questions but so important. Often we get on the “life treadmill” and just go through life trying not to fall off. Or we want to get off but don’t know how.

    Great idea Chris and for me this came at the perfect time. It’s an overused cliche, but life is truly short and fragile.

  • Jim Lord says:

    Yes! to Jerryโ€™s idea: Add a question of โ€œWhatโ€™s working right now?โ€

    One way Iโ€™ve found is to think back to a time you felt you were living the dream — or a little part of a little dream (smile). Just an itsy-bitsy time. It could be now. It could be when you were a child.

    The point is, however few and far between the moments of realizing your aspirations, you want to convince yourself that you *do* on occasion live the dream.

    And might that be just the path to realize the next instance of living your dreams?

    Seems to work for me. Thanks for getting me going, Chris.

  • What a great idea. I’ve seen it work in a big way …

    A friend of mine interviewed himself in his office one day, to reconnect with what was most important to him. And he says that simple step launched him into leading the largest private land conservation project in U.S. history.

    Hmm, maybe it’s time for me to sit down and have a chat with myself.

    Thanks, Chris.

  • Joel says:

    I think you wrote this at the right time. At the start of the year I thought I had it all figured out, I’m pretty sure I do now but the important thing to remember is that thought needs to translate into action. Doing exercises like this is like an adrenaline shot to our consciousness.

  • Excellent idea. This is definitely going into my toolbox.

  • Hannah says:

    I do live my life as if it counts in a different way than I used to, since cancer 6 yrs ago. Doesn’t stop me from complaining or fearing scarcity at times however ;-}

    I gave up a comfortable existence in the PNW recently after I’d finally, after many years, reached a reasonable income. I wanted to start over in a more honest and creative way; minus compromising my integrity. The loving community I have here is unparalleled in my life history and I have no regrets, even though I haven’t figured out the details of what’s next.

    I have a new commitment to “just say no” to anyone or anything that doesn’t vibrate to an uplifting energy. It’s so easy to get caught up in black holes of negativity.

    I love your willingness and honesty. Please visit Minneapolis on your world domination tour?

  • Etsuko says:

    I just did this last Wednesday! I think it’s so important to reconnect with your “why”. If it’s hard to do this on your own, ask a friend to help but in any case it’s a good idea to do this every now and then. Thank you for reminding us on that!

  • Betsy Talbot says:

    Great idea from Eduard about doing this interview in a really nice restaurant to give it the proper context. And to make it a regular thing.

    I first learned about this years ago with Steve Covey’s habit of “Begin with the end in mind” and writing my ideal eulogy. When you take the time to detail the impression you want to leave in this world, it is a pretty easy process to list out all the things you need to do to make it happen. Less easy to actually do it, but that’s where all the fun is, right?

    We’re heading off in October for our 3-year travel adventure, so I’m pretty excited about what the next year will bring. Of course, the last 2 years planning and decluttering (literally and figuratively) have been pretty amazing learning experiences as well. You don’t have to be living your happily ever after to be a success – just being in touch with where you are going will bring you worlds of happiness and meaning.

  • Mama Zen says:

    I’m going to do this NOW!

  • Martha says:

    What a great post, thanks Chris. Doing an interview, formalizing the questions to oneself strikes me as so much more positive than checking in on that voice running circles in my head. I think for anyone who has chosen to live differently it’s important to reevaluate from time to time, not to be threatening or defensive, but to be certain that it’s all fine. As others have said, no regrets, but sometimes one needs to check in on one’s path. Thanks again!

  • GREAT idea. I’ve spent so much time interviewing other folks for my blog and never thought to interview myself! Perhaps it will be my next blog post – all credit, of course, goes to you, Chris!

  • Jackie says:

    Absolutely love this, I intend to sit down this afternoon and conduct my own interview. Detatching yourself from the process allows you to reveal much more of your self, than just asking what do I want.

    This is the second push today that I have had along the same lins…so I do believe someone’s trying to tell me something.

    Thanks

  • Meg says:

    I wanted to stop by and say I loved this idea! I’ll be setting up a time to interview myself here soon. (I read through this earlier when I couldn’t comment, but I did feel like chiming in.)

  • Leslie says:

    Perfect timing…did my taxes the other day, giving myself a chance to take a good look at my finances…ties in very well with ‘my’ interview!

  • Jill says:

    Thank you again, Chris. I did my interview last night and woke up today with a clearer perspective on my self and my goals. Its funny how we all have all the answers we need, we just have to take the time to actually listen to them. Thank you for the reminder, you truely inspire.

  • Chris – what a great reminder to check in with myself!

    15 years ago I was unhappy in corp. management, even though I’d spent the previous 15 years working my way up to it. A friend asked me what would I do if I just won the lottery? My immediate response was, “Go back to school.” A year later I did it and it was the happiest time of my life. I will never regret following my heart. Now, 15 years later I’ve landed back in the same quagmire – a finc’l sales position that makes me feel trapped.

    Time to ask myself what I’d do if I only had one year left. Thank you!

  • Julie says:

    Thank you once again, Chris. I printed the survey thinking it was something I would do later when I wasn’t feeling so down about my life. But I found myself answering it instead of doing the busywork I had set up for myself to get me through a rough day. I’m surprised at the positive answers I was able to come up with – I wasn’t trying to be artificially upbeat in any way. It just came out, and has transformed my outlook for the day, maybe for longer.

    I’m with Tim W on the request for your insight on how to discover your life’s passion.

  • interviewing yourself is taking absent-minded self-talk to the level of full awareness. in the spirit of your post, if you interviewed other people, to up your interview skills, would you prepare great interview questions and such? do yourself the same favor, treat yourself with the same respect, make it a great interview! alternatively, stand naked in front of a full-length mirror, ask “who are you” and the only one allowed to answer is you.

  • Mark says:

    Instead of asking yourself “If you had one year left to live, how would you spend it?” perhaps you could say “If you could do anything in your life, without fear of failure, what would it be?”. This enables you to look at longer term goals too.

  • Stephanie says:

    I think introspection is one of the best things you can do to meet your goals. I am a bodybuilder and I’m constantly interviewing myself. I’ve found that having concrete answers to these questions makes meeting your goals so much easier. The question “What worries you?” is one of the most important. I often realize that my worries/fears are keeping me from success. Acknowledging them enables you to find solutions to overcome them or realize that they are frivolous, and not worth your mental energy.

  • Veron Graham says:

    Getting to the center of ones personal truth is such a foundational step to so many things in life. I really vibe with this post!

    A few years ago I sort of had this “Interview” and its been an ongoing conversation with myself since then(and totally sent me tumbling down some rabbit holes). BUT I must say, that sometimes I’m tempted to just conduct it in a loose and casual way, when I fully believe that taking the intentional approach you are suggesting, is what we need.

    The idea of sitting down, and focusing on some very pointed questions is simple, practical, and powerful. Love this one Chris! I’m going to do this(formally)!

  • Heather says:

    Perfect timing, thank you! What a great tool for getting the big picture on your self and your life.

  • Emily says:

    Thanks for this really great exercise. I stumbled across your website and resources at a really good time for me. I continue to solidifiy some basic tenets for where I’d like my venture to go and inch forward on what can be done next. Thanks again.

  • Wyman says:

    These questions could be part of your review of goals each day or life plan.

  • Darcy says:

    I’ve never tried this, but it sounds like a brilliant idea. Perhaps I’ll turn it into a once-a-year thing. Where am I at, what did I achieve this year, where am I going, etc? Sounds like a plan!

  • I once had an opportunity to place many different objects and characters around a small sand box. Then the facilitator and I had an interview…the format was that I took the perspective of one of the items in the box, and had a conversation about why I was there, and what I hoped to accomplish, how I was feeling, etc. It was fun, interesting, and provided tremendous insight. My life began to change in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I’m grateful for that experience, so that I can build on it when I interview myself. The great thing about interviewing yourself is that you always get the job! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Andi says:

    This is a an awesome exercise. I’m going to write down the questions and really reflect on them this weekend. I might even do a blog post about it, so thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Shana says:

    This is awesome, yet another great way to continue my self-discover journey – I had a chance to have an interview with myself last evening and I recorded it using my mac cam. I rambled about each of the questions for a total of 35 minutes. Tonight, I plan to watch the recording and write down my responses to the questions…maybe analyze recurring words, thoughts or phrases that came up. THANKS!!

  • Carlos says:

    I do this as a benchmark after each triathlon or endurance event and after every significant milestone. It is a very humbling experience and it helps keep me humble and my vanity in check ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Paula says:

    A big decade birthday is coming up; a perfect time to conduct the interview but I already know the answers. The question is how do you find the courage to leap from the secure ledge you have occupied for so long into the life you really want?

  • Gerome Soriano says:

    Wow this is a really great idea. I write a journal regularly. Never thought of doing this self-interview though. Thanks for this Chris.

  • John says:

    I tried this. It was revealing, but the other people in the restaurant were visibly concerned.

  • Love it when a post written three years (as of this writing) is still totally relevant today. About these self-interview questions…, the scary part about asking them is when you know that you probably don’t have answers to most of them, or at least you don’t have answers that you are confident and satisfied with. The simple action step is clicking away to another distracting eye-catcher. The hard action step, as you say, is actively doing something to find answers for yourself. Something I know from experience. ๐Ÿ™‚ Still a work in progress for me, though I can say I am actively working on this.

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