Do you remember when all anyone could talk about was “Avatar”? It was a monstrous hit, and even if you didn’t see it in theaters yourself, there’s a good chance you remember the way that excitement about the movie swept through the country. The year was 2009, and while it might seem like just yesterday, a full decade has passed since then.
Sure, a decade is just a period of 10 years, so every New Year’s marks the end of one. But don’t we think of the ‘80s and ‘90s as specific phases of our lives? Soon we’ll think of the 2010s that way, too. A decade is a major marker of time.
Now, as we approach the end of 2019, with another new decade upon us, I’m thinking about these past 10 years and the shifts they’ve caused in all our lives. From a time management perspective, I think there’s a lot we can learn by looking back at our choices and our challenges during the soon-to-be-over 2010s.
Time Management Over Ten Years in Your Life
As we wind down the last few weeks of the 2010s, I want to ask you to join me in looking back. The past is a powerful resource when you’re struggling with time management and productivity. It’s a record of your challenges and victories. You’ve probably heard some version of the saying “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it,” right? It’s often used in political discussions, but isn’t it true in your own life too?
Acknowledging your ups and downs during the 2010s allows you to begin the 2020s with purpose and a clear sense of your priorities. With that in mind, I want to challenge you to ask yourself these five questions about the last decade.
- Where did I think I would be by now? Unless you’re a diligent journal writer or are blessed with a great memory, you might not recall exactly what your aspirations were for the 2010s. Can you take a few moments to put yourself back in time and reflect about what 2009-era you would have hoped your 2019-era life would look like?
- At what point was I the most professionally satisfied? Looking back at the last 10 years in your career, were there times when you felt totally on top of your game? When you felt like you were delivering your best work and were excited to get started each morning? What was going on in your life that made that such a gratifying phase?
- What was the lowest point for me, professionally and personally? To be clear, I’m not suggesting you wallow in the losses and heartbreaks you suffered over the last decade. But I wonder if you can pinpoint a few times when you suffered because of your own choices. What did you learn from those experiences? If you could have made different choices, what would you have done?
- How did I prioritize my time? This is a big question, and it’s not necessarily easy to answer. Think about it this way: If you were to ask your closest family members and friends to describe your time management approach over the last decade, what would they say? Would they remember that you were often canceling plans and scrambling to get work done? Would they say that you were present for every important event, even if it meant leaving work undone? How would they describe your priorities?
- What did I do really well? I believe in celebrating your successes and the “what went well” conversation is one that I teach my clients to have often! As we move forward into the next decade, I hope you’ll take some time to acknowledge all of your accomplishments. It’s a good reminder about how much you can get done, and how gratifying it is to stand in those accomplishments. That’s the energy I hope you’ll carry with into the new year.
Next time we’ll talk about how, exactly, you can take the answers to those questions and turn them into action for the decade ahead. In the meantime, I hope you’ll find the time and space to enjoy the final weeks of the 2010s!