Given the job I have people sometimes assume that I have ‘it‘ all sorted. Most of the time I am pretty well grounded but nothing in life stays static and we are all learning and developing all the time. (The joy and wisdom of ageing!) You may be well sorted in your 30s then find your 40s a real challenge.
For the times when life doesn’t feel so sorted, or when you want to mull over where to next, I find it helps to take the long view. Easier said than done but I have an exercise which might help. I’ve just done it myself so can tell you it does help!
The Long View exercise
If you’re finding yourself in one of those ‘which way now?’ moments try this exercise to give yourself a sense of perspective.
Draw a time line across a sheet of paper landscape style. At one end put the year of your birth, at the other the year you think you’ll end life (Honestly, this isn’t depressing- I find it really gives me a spur to get on with life!). I, being an optimist, always put myself down as finishing at age 100 but secretly imagine I may live longer!
Divide your line into decades. If you pick 100 you’ll have a neat 10!
The first decade of your life was taken up with childhood. This is not an exercise to focus on very deep issues, so don’t dig too far. Just write childhood/school under your first decade.
The second decade in my case was still education, although I left home as well.
In my third decade I married, started a new career, had my first child and embarked on professional training. Blimey I was busy!
The fourth decade began with the birth of my second child and was when I began to consolidate my career; it also began to reveal the seed of my discontent with my chosen career.
The fifth decade involved new job challenges (promotion, secondments)and was when I made a serious life change and launched into my own career.
Now midway through my sixth decade I am making some serious decisions about my business. I don’t know what the next 4 and half decades hold for me but doing this exercise helps me to see I don’t have to make a decision in the next few days but that I do have to make a decision. If not I will drift and ‘events, dear boy, events’ will take place outwith my control. Seeing it laid out in this way both gives me time and reminds me that time is finite. If that makes sense!
It’s your life. Live it to the full and take responsibility for what you do. And be GREAT!
PS. Of course, this is not the only method I use when making decisions! I have great friends and family to talk with, I seek professional advice, I read other’s experiences and I research. But for the times when suddenly that all seems a bit overwhelming, the long view exercise is great!
If you try it, please let me know how you get on!
Posted on February 9th, 2011 by Jane