Questions about turning points: What happened next?

Robert Frost famously wrote: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by / And that has made all the difference”. When I’m interviewing the elderly I ask them to react to this quote:

  • What’s your first response to this statement?

  • Does it reflect on any choices in your own life?

Interesting stuff isn’t it? But asking about the turning points in a person’s life can feel awkward, especially if it is your mother, father, brother or grandparent.

  • Am I being too personal?

  • How will they react?

  • Can I ask about the bad points as well as the good?

But it’s important to ask these tough questions. Why do I think this? Because I really want to know what their turning points were and more importantly - I want to know how my subject handled that turning point. Read my blog post on asking questions to get tips on asking the tough stuff

I’ve just read Leigh Sale’s book Any Ordinary Day and her premise is this: I don’t want to know what happened on the day of the life-changing event. I want to know what happened the day after the event. And the day after that. And the next. You can check out the book here

I think finding out what happened after a turning point is the most interesting part of the story. I’ve been asking my elderly interview subjects - What happened as the event was occurring? But more importantly, how do you feel about it now?

My question series Turning Points, examines the two types of turning points in a life. A choice, and an unexpected event. You can access it here Our risk and regret question set looks at how regret is managed, and how a life is lived after regret. Check it out here