Decade in Review

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I briefly mentioned yesterday that I worked on my decade in review.  I have been talking about sharing this with you for a few weeks and I feel it is so important to talk about this work.  Initially I wanted to walk through the whole process, but I feel it is more valuable to discuss what went into it so you can make your own decision as we approach the new year and new decade.  The process has been extremely emotional.  When it was first published by Marie Forleo a few weeks ago, I honestly thought it would be a breeze—it’s only planning, right?  WRONG.  Looking over the last decade brought up so many emotions for me and going into a new decade has brought up even more.  But, clarity for the direction we want to go comes from understanding where we’re at.  In other words, sometimes we have to go through the muck in order to move forward.

Even though it was intense for me, I still enjoyed the experience.  I look at 2020 as a huge opportunity to sink my teeth in and make traction with the leg work I’ve done over the last few months.  Honestly I was excited about entering the 20’s before I even found out about the decade in review project.  Perhaps it is the celestial alignment, but there does seem to be a huge sense of anticipation coming up.  The energy seems to be beyond just a normal New Year.  It’s a new decade and a chance to really define who we want to be and what we want to accomplish.  This isn’t like the usual “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be a better version of myself.”  This is about deep reflection and finding our alignment.

So, the gist if the project was to look at the past 10 years and document what you were most proud of.  Then it was to look at the last 10 years and document the lessons you’ve learned.  The final section was to dive in and really look at what you wanted for the next 10 years.  Like I said, I thought this would be a simple project.  I didn’t anticipate what I would feel seeing what the last 10 years looked like for me on paper.

We all have incredibly personal moments and it can leave us feeling raw to go through them again.  Sometimes that’s difficult enough to do for a one year period, but to rehash 10 years can bring us through an emotional storm.  Going through the exercise and coming out the other side, I can say that it was cathartic and helpful and probably one of the most real experiences I’ve had in a long time.

The first thing that’s needed is a desire to create something long term.  The next thing is a willingness to be completely honest.  This extends to honesty about the past as well as really looking at who you want to be in the future.  The last thing is devoting the time and energy to complete the exercise while maintaining that honesty.

During the process of reviewing my accomplishments of the last decade, I have to admit that I honestly struggled to come up with accomplishments.  Immediately I felt a sense of panic followed by regret.  Not that I didn’t have any accomplishments to speak of, but I felt a wave of incompetence at how few accomplishments I had.  Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective at how much one should accomplish in a 10 year period, but I certainly felt a lack.  I felt so much regret at things I haven’t done over the last decade and even more regret that I feel like I have been living my life on repeat over the last 10 years.  I have been in a state of waiting for my life to begin because I let myself get stuck in the cycle of work, bills, sleep expecting that the excitement would come.  It took me this long to understand that life takes place every day.  The movement of “YOLO” was bastardized to mean that you could get way with any heinous behavior rather than the initial meaning to take chances because you only live once.  I disagree with the sentiment regardless.  Jeffrey Althouse said it best, “You only die once.  You live every day.”

The positive of this existential crisis is that I now know the value of living every day.  Appreciating the moments we have every day.  Having fun every day.  There is joy in every day and it is up to us to take it.  Making each day joyful is a choice, being happy is a choice.  That isn’t to diminish the tragedies or the natural trajectory of difficult events, but rather to work on the things within our control.  How we react to the situation and how we work with the cards we are dealt is our choice.  I learned that I can make the choice to be happy and to have fun.  My day doesn’t need to be dictated by the clock.  I can breathe and have fun and stop waiting for the weekend to enjoy time with my son.  I don’t need to wait for a vacation to relax.  The bottom line is CHOICE.  I don’t have to engage in the things that don’t bring me joy.  If I have to engage in those things, I can try to find the lesson in them.

The next positive in this revelatory moment was to learn to acknowledge the small accomplishments.  We so often focus on the large moments and we are taught early on that only the significant accomplishments or milestones are worth celebrating.  This is far from the truth.  There are accomplishments in every day.  Small steps toward any goal are worth being proud of too because they all add up to the end result.

The next section dealt with learnings.  Ironically, even though this entailed looking at the moments of failure over the last 10 years, it really helped me to recognize that I overcame so much more than I thought.  They say that we dwell on our failures more than our successes and that is true.  Perhaps I confused the point of the exercises (the positives were meant to develop our sense of success while our learnings were meant to reframe our failures as lessons) but I felt like I did significantly better at acknowledging my lessons.  I am proud that I have been a good student and that it didn’t take more than one of a given failure to learn a lesson.  I am proud that I learned how to be strong.  I learned how to stand on my own two feet, and I learned what I have to do to be the person I want to be.  Starting with defining WHO I want to be and the life I want to live, I know where I want to spend some time shaping my life.

The last section dealt with really defining where you want to go in the future.  The projects you want to create and the type of person you want to me.  It was about letting go of the fear and anything else holding you back and allowing yourself to dream and create actionable goals.  It was about being open to the possibility of the future and accepting your role in creating the future you desire.   This was the most exciting part for me.  I’ve done visualization before but looking at the progress I’ve made over the last 3 months, I am seriously excited for the future.  It is more than excitement because I have already put the wheels in motion for what I’m working for.

Overall, as I mentioned, I am thrilled that I completed the work and I would recommend the process to anyone.  If you’re serious about making a change and wanting to do something big, then it takes some serious introspection.  It means being honest and doing some uncomfortable work and making some uncomfortable admissions about who you are and how you got there.  It means owning the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and everything in between and knowing that your decisions, and ultimately you, are responsible for where you’re at.  There is a ton of freedom in that because you are always at the helm of your life and you can make your dreams reality. Your life is yours—make it as beautiful as you want; own it.

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