Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What Will This Decade Mean To You?


January 1st started not only a new year (2010) but also the second decade in the 21st century. With a new year it is often nice to look at your life and think about some changes you'd like to make. Lots of people will make resolutions but one thing this is different about this year compared to the other nine coming up in the decade is that it the first and it provides us a good chance to look at the coming decade and think about what it will mean to us. I put together a MindMap (based on FreeMind freeware) with some areas that you might want to think about reviewing.

A New Year, A New Decade

One of the things that I really like about the start of a new year is that it gives you a chance to push the refresh or restart button on your life and the direction that you're taking it. With the start of a new decade, it is like adding a turbo function to this button as well. Maybe 2009 was a good year for you, but many of us are happy to put it behind us and start on 2010.

Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work (from GTD)

David Allen talks about The Six-Level Model for Reviewing Your Own Work within his GTD (Getting Things Done: The Are of Stress-Free Productivity, p51-53)

  • 50,000+ feet: Life
  • 40,000 feet: Three to five-year vision
  • 30,000 feet: One- to two-year goals
  • 20,000 feet: Areas of responsibility
  • 10,000 feet: Current projects
  • Runway: Current actions
This or any number of other goal setting disciplines is a good place to start and then expanding out into the other areas of your life that I've briefly touched with the MindMap pictured above. I didn't touch on the runway, but most of the other levels are found within this article.

Time Horizon Goals

Looking at some of the traditional time horizons that people often use to set goals you might want to have a look at where you want to be in one year, two years, five years, and ten years. You might ask what you want to be doing, what your life will look like, what you would like to have accomplished and so on. Going out ten years might even be to far but at some point you'll want to give it some thought. In the last few decades there have been an awful lot of changes and many of us could not have imagined in our wildest dreams some of the changes that we've seen, so don't be afraid to think about this far out, if you need to re-think or modify some of your planning, don't be afraid to make mistakes.


Now is a good time to look at where your career is and what track you're on. Are you doing something that you can imagine doing all your life? Are you training to do something that you'll be happy doing once you've completed your initial education and training? Where do you want to go with your company? Where do you see your career going? Remember that there are a lots of new jobs that have popped up in the last few decades, so who knows what the future will bring but why not give it some thought.


Some of you might be going to school now or are thinking about going to school, while others might be thinking about learning for a new career. A decade is enough time to become a doctor or attorney (or at least get you on your way). Think about what you'd like to learn both professionally and personally. You might want to also decide to become a life-long learner. With iPods, MP3 players, and eBooks, there are almost limitless possibilities to learn. Your outlook on education and learning might have changed since the last time you really thought about it.

Relationships And Families

Regardless of if you plan it or not, there will be a lot that happens to you and your relationships in the next ten years. If you're not married, maybe you're thinking about getting married or maybe you wonder if the person you're with now is the person that you want to marry. If you don't already have kids maybe you wonder if you want to have kids or how many you wish to have. You might also be wondering what kind of changes you need to make to get ready for kids. Now is also a good time to do a review of your friendships. Are there people that you spend too much time with or maybe those that you don't spend enough time with? Are any of your relationships toxic? These are the people that bring you down so that they have company in their constant sorrow. Are your friends holding you back from accomplishing your dreams and goals. Is there anything that you'd really like to do with your spouse? Maybe there is the class the two of you always wanted to take together or that dream trip that you wanted to take. How about your kids, is there anything that you'd really like to do with them in the next ten years? Maybe you want to put away some money so you can help them to go to school or get married. Maybe there is something that you'd thought about doing for years with one or more of them. How is your relationship with your parent(s) and how healthy are they? Have you discussed what arrangements they'd like if and when they're no longer able to properly take care of themselves? Do the want a DNR (do not resuscitate order), in the event that the decision needs to be made? How is your relationship with your siblings? Is there some patching up that can or should be done? Maybe you just want to see them more. Relationships can give us some much but they can also be very demanding, so why not access your key relationships?

Your Life's Purpose

At the 50,000 feet level of GTD, you have those questions related to meaning in your life. While not everyone will ask about the meaning of life, most people will wonder why they're here and what their purpose in life is. This can be very difficult and many people avoid really giving it a whole lot of thought, while others just seem to know what they were born to do. If you think with the end in mind this might help you. What do you think that people will say about you when your gone, this might help you to find your purpose. If you knew that your life was going to end at the end of this new decade what is the most important thing for your to accomplish? If there was something that you knew that you could not fail if you did it, what would you do?


Someday/Maybes is often mentioned within GTD and it refers to those things that you might do one day buy aren't within your current plans. It is kind of a collecting spot so that they don't distract you all the time when you're trying to do other things. If you're doing some sort of GTD Weekly Review, you might already be reviewing them on a regular basis but with the start of a new decade is an opportunity to consider the items in this list. Maybe you're now able to do some of these in the next decade. If you decide to move some of these things to active goals and projects then you'll want to think about when you want to do them, what needs to be done, and your next actions, and so on. Maybe there are some other things that you want to add to your list. There might also be some things on your list that you'd never do in a million years so after giving it enough consideration, why not remove the things you know that you'll never do.

Health And Fitness

Many people will start a new year with a resolution related to health and fitness. Maybe you want to quit smoking, change your diet, do some kind of exercise program, and so on. There are lots of things that you can do in this area and there are lots of reasons why you should do any number of them. I just hope that you find something that you want to do and have the motivation to keep going, not that this quickly becomes one of those discarded resolutions of days gone by. Because we're looking at the longer time horizon, you might think about running a marathon or a long bike race, something that you need to prepare and train your body to be able to do. You can also think about if you can do any of these goals with family or friends so that you can help keep each other motivated and be more likely to succeed. Health and fitness is one area that you shouldn't overlook when doing your decade planning, so be sure to give it some thought and come up with some goals and plans that motivate you.


Projects within the GTD world are anything that take more than one step to do. This probably greatly expands what you'd view to be the projects in your life. Within your private world there are those things that you're working on when you have spare time or extra money, or maybe they're even the focus of every waking hour (they might even spill over into your dream time). Then there are your projects at work. You probably have some projects now if you give it some thought. What things do you like to do? You might want to set up some projects related to these things. Would you like to climb Mount Everest? How about that book you always wanted to write (maybe you even started it)? What about that car that you wanted to restore? By finding something that you want to do, deciding/finding out what needs to be done, planning it (including determining your next action), and doing it, you'll find that there are a great many projects that you can do and finish. Of course there are projects that are more complex and will require more consideration (especially budgetary considerations).

Volunteering And Charity

Do you currently do any volunteer work or give to charity? You don't have to tell me, but this is one area that you should probably look at when doing this decade review or in any number of other reviews that you might do. What charities or volunteer groups are you currently involved with and what ones do you want to become involved with? Are you happy with your current level of involvement? Are there any changes that you wish to make in this area? Besides doing some good in the world, volunteering and charity can help you make new friends, give new meaning in your life, give you an added sense of purpose, and take your life in directions you might never have imagined. I'd be curious to hear how many people took an interest in a charity or volunteering and made a career out of it. Think about all the wonderful things that you could do in the next ten years, if you give it some thought and planning!


How often have you thought that you'd like to live by the ocean or move to the mountains? Why not give some serious thought to where you live? Even if you don't decide to move so far away, maybe you've always wanted to buy your very own house, or maybe you're just not happy with your apartment any longer. Your location might be a by product of your job or some other factor but almost anything that you do in this area requires some serious planning before you can truly execute it. Even if you're happy with your current home or apartment, maybe there are some renovation projects that you'd like to do in the next ten years (if not I'm sure that some will surface). With proper planning and budgetary consideration you can probably make some of those renovation projects a reality.


What do you like to do with your spare time or when you suddenly have some free time? What are the things that interest you? You should give your hobbies a review. Are you doing them enough, are there things that you do that will allow you to do more of them or spend more time and money on them or maybe you need to do the reverse? Maybe you can turn a hobby into a business or career. Maybe there is a convention related to your hobby that you've been wanting to go to, why not do some planning so that you can attend some events related to some of your hobbies. How great it can be to make friends that like to do similar hobbies and that you can actually do activities related to your hobbies with. A cousin of mine took a motorcycle trip across Europe several years ago. What would you like to do with your hobbies in the next ten years?


I've always be fascinated by travel and visiting far off places. If you're someone that travels a lot now, then you might not want to think about any further traveling but for the rest of us there is probably some place that you've always wanted to go, something that you've always wanted to see, or some people that you've always wanted to visit. If you don't actually plan some travel, the likelihood that you actually make your travel dreams come true are very small. Time and money are two of the biggest barriers to full-filling your travel dreams, so planning is a must. Where would you like to go if time and money weren't holding you back? We have some friends that moved to New Zealand and have made a few friends over the years in Australia, so it would be nice to see them. I mentioned location earlier, you might think about moving to a location that will allow you to travel to your dream destinations or maybe even move to your dream destination. Also for those frequent travelers, maybe it wouldn't be too hard to arrange to fit some of your travel dreams into your routine travel or make good use of your frequent flyer miles.


Do you know what your priorities are? If you don't, then it is pretty easy to spend your time, energy, and money on things that don't really matter to you. As part of your decade planning, you should think about what your priorities are. By knowing what your priorities are you can make better use of your time, money, energy, talent, and you can get any education or training necessary to help you in aligning your life with your priorities.

Planning And Making Time

Planning and making time is probably the area that most people fail at. We often get caught up in life and we run from one crisis to the next. If you don't do more planning and making time for your priorities and the things that are important to you, other things will take over your time and attention and it is more than likely they won't be things that you would have chosen! In project management there is a saying that goes "Failing to plan is planning to fail". I also really like the title of the George Harrison song "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there".

I hope that you'll all give some thought to what this next decade will mean to you. Why not start with the MindMap above, create your own MindMap, or use whatever method works best for you to think about what you want to do in the next ten years.

Photocredit: You can find the MindMap above at Flickr.
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