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Monk Notes 02 - The Wisdom of Decade Thinking

With three days left in the 2010s, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the last ten years of my life. While change is always constant, I would have never predicted ten years ago that my life would look like it does today. So much can happen in ten year period - it’s nearly impossible to know.

Yet despite all this change, there is something quite comforting about decades. More than any other unit of time, decades offer us a chance to see the forest rather than the trees. And through this broadened vantage point, we tend to discover insights we otherwise might have missed.

Insights that put life into perspective... 

Most crises and terrible events we encounter in our lives ultimately tend not to be as destructive or terrible as we would have at first imagined. And when we meet a truly horrible crisis, as bad as we imagined, we find amidst the pain and loss some level of illumination and potential over time. Our fears and anxieties, as it turns out, are often exaggerated or misdirected.

We also see that despite all the negative events and circumstances we inevitably encounter in our lives, the majority of our days are made up of the good. We see through our decades that everything is really okay, after all.

A decade size view helps us see what is truly important to us as well as the hidden blessings we may have missed along the way. If our days and weeks feel like a series of action films, our decades are much more akin to “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Decades are so rich because they present an opportunity for us to see the meaning of things.

While the end of a decade tends to be a natural inflection point for looking back, it’s less often used as an inflection point for looking forward.

That’s partially because you can’t plan a decade. Most of us can only predict and reliably see the next three months of our lives. Past that we move increasingly into deeper and deeper wilderness. In ten years, your life will certainly not look like you think it will. And that is part of the adventure.

But we can be intentional. New decades, with their broadened perspective, present an optimal opportunity for setting a course not only for what we will do, but also who we will be.

The key is to keep the method simple and honest.

I hope this free Ten Year Life Vision Planner will help you do just that. It’s set to read only - you can either download it our copy it to your google drive. I will be filling mine out over the next two days and look forward to using it as an anchor and compass over the next ten years.

Thanks for making 2019 such a great year, it far exceeded all my expectations.

See you in the 20s.

All the best,

"Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one." - Martin Heidegger


Write a One, Five, or Ten Year Letter to Self - FutureMe

When I was 18 my psychology professor had each of us write a letter to ourselves with the promise that 10 years later he would mail it back out to us. For 10 years I looked forward to receiving that letter. There is something enlightening and grounding hearing from your past self and seeing just how much has changed, and just how much hasn't. LINK

The Five Regrets of the Dying -

Back in 2012 Bonnie Ware wrote a book explaining the lessons she learned from dying patients as palliative care nurse. Even if you've read these before - they are worth reflecting on as you look out to the year ahead. LINK

Why Time Speeds Up As We Age - NBC News

Have you ever noticed how time seems to fly by as you age? Here is why + how to slow time down... LINK

"Elizabeth Eckford Entering Central High School, Little Rock, Arkansas" - Unknown Photographer 1957-09-05