end of decade

As December flies along, we are not only nearing the end of the year, we are nearing the end of a decade.  The 20-teens are almost over.

As we near the end of this decade, I want to share with you an amazing exercise that I’ve just been through.  I learnt it from Marie Forleo, and have adapted it somewhat, and I wanted to share it so you have an opportunity to do it as well.

Most people completely overestimate what they can do in a day, week and even a year (hence the comments of ‘I wish there was another one of me’ or ‘I wish there was another day in the week’). Yet, completely underestimate what they can do in 10 years.

In addition to this, many of you never take the time to reflect on what you have achieved, what’s changed and what has happened in the past year, let alone 10 years.  Too quickly you jump to beating yourself up over what you haven’t achieved but rarely stop to realise how much you have done.

My life was completely different 10 years ago.  I was 35 and I definitely had less grey hair and wrinkles!!

We were living in a completely different house with our beautiful, tiny, completely dependant one year old.  I was studying psychology and had just returned to my corporate role after maternity leave.  Little did I now I was only 12 months away from leaving that company and becoming self-employed.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve gained friends and I’ve lost friends, and even gained and lost the same person as a friend in that time.

I had an idea of what I wanted my life to look like in 10 years’ time and, looking back, some of it has come to life, but some of it hasn’t.  One of the most important things for me at that time, when I looked forward 10 years (i.e. to 2020), was to be working in a career I found fulfilling.  A career where I was helping people, but that also offered flexibility for my family.  On reflection I’ve created that and it’s something I’m really proud of.

The one thing I don’t think I could ever have foreseen 10 years ago was how I got here.  I could never have imagined the journey would have been what it’s been.  So many things have been much, much harder than I expected and, other things I would never have guessed, have been more rewarding than I would have thought.

So, while I’m not going to share the details of my review (I wouldn’t put you through that!!), I will share the process.

And, I encourage you to give it a go.

It will help you determine the things that are important to you – so you can plan for more of that going forward.

It will also help to remind you how you’ve grown and what you’ve learnt over the last 10 years.

And, finally, it will give you a chance to reflect on what you want to be different in your life going forward.

This is not a goal setting exercise; it is a reflection and review.  It’s a chance to pat yourself on the back for the things you’ve achieved and the things you want to keep doing.  It’s also a chance to reflect on what you want to be different in the next decade.  For those of you used to corporate speak, it’s a bit like a stop, start, continue exercise.

There are three parts, broken down into smaller steps.  Grab a journal, some quiet uninterrupted time and work through each one.

Part 1: What you are proud of – achievements, growth and learnings:
  1. Over the past 10 years, what have you done that you’re proud of?  Think career, home, relationships, parenting, health, hobbies, personal growth and development, everything.
  2. What obstacles have you overcome?  List them all.
  3. What are some of the results you’ve created since 2010?
  4. What have you learnt and how have you grown?
  5. Go through your entire list, circle what is most important and write down why.

This is a great opportunity to reflect on everything you’ve achieved.  New job, new house, renovations, wonderful holidays, family, fitness, business, career, hobbies, friendships and relationships.

Going back through this list and circling what’s most important highlights the things that you should prioritise and make time for in the coming years.

Part 2 – What you’re ready to let go of:
  1. What things have you told yourself you ‘should’ do but have never made time for? Maybe they aren’t that important to you (and, as a side note, anytime you use the word ‘should’ – i.e. I should do that, it’s a form of self-criticism).
  2. What expectations have others or society placed on you that you are ready to give up?
  3. What resentments, angers and upsets are you holding onto?
  4. Who are you ready to forgive?
  5. What are the limiting beliefs, excuses, negative self-talk that you are ready to give up? Things like I’m not good enough, I’m too old, I’m not smart enough/thin enough/etc, I don’t have enough time.

This part is about ridding yourself of the things that bring you down or cause you pain. Expectations placed on us from family, friends or society.  Negative self-talk and stories from our past that don’t serve us.  Energy suckers, resentments and angers that take up head-space.  It’s time to say goodbye to them and not take them into the next decade.

Part 3 – What will the next decade look like?
  1. What do I want my life to look like throughout the next decade and in 10 years’ time?
  2. How am I spending my time?
  3. Who is in my life?
  4. How do I feel about myself and my life?
  5. What am I celebrating?
  6. What changes will I start making today so this becomes a reality?

I personally find it difficult to get too specific on my goals or vision for 10 years’ time – it feels too far away (if you want to get specific, I encourage you-get specific!).  But I do find a lot of value in getting clear on what I want in my life, how I want to feel and how I want to spend my time.

In 10 years, as we head into 2030, I’ll be 55.  So many things will be different – things I can’t even imagine.  I’ll have an adult child. Some loved ones may no longer be around.  I can’t predict any of it and a lot of it I have no control over.  But the part I do have control over is how I live my life each day.

Completely within my control is what I choose to focus on and how I prioritise and spend my time.  I control whether I live an intentional life or whether I just let life happen to me.

Why do this exercise:

If you don’t have a picture of what you want in your life and how you want it to be, you are running blind.  Without this, you don’t know how you should invest your time and energy, and life just happens to you.  You react to life rather than take the steps to proactively create it.  And, when that happens, you wake up in 10 years’ time and wonder where the time has gone and why nothing has changed.

So, on that note, I encourage you to take some time and go through this exercise.  Give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve achieved over the last 10 years.

And, now that you’ve created a sense of what you want the next 10 years to be, you can start living that now.  Make the choice to be intentional about how you spend your time.  I guarantee in 10 years’ time you won’t remember the worries of today or your fears or how much you enjoyed the new series that you binged on Netflix.  But you will be grateful for the life you created for yourself, due to the choices you make today.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” – Mae West

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