Marking time

Marking time

I’ve seen a lot of end of year reviews over the past couple of months. The best I read was from Derek Sivers. It calls for us to use personal markers for the changing phases of our lives:

Your year really begins when you move to a new home, start school, quit a job, have a big breakup, have a baby, quit a bad habit, start a new project, or whatever else. Those are the real memorable turning points — where one day is very different than the day before. Those are the meaningful markers of time. Those are your real new years.

I agree with this. Typically, my year starts and ends in September along with the academic year and my company’s financial year. Buster Benson conducts his yearly reviews on his birthday.

Thinking in longer phases, I’m currently part-way through a phase (probably the equivalent of a decade) that began when I moved back to Newcastle and into my current home in January 2014. And a colleague I was talking to yesterday said he works in seven-year cycles.

The end of the decade also brought a raft of 10-year reviews in different formats. There was a tweet going around that asked what we’d all accomplished in the last decade. I bristled at it and I know I wasn’t the only one. I’m all for celebrating successes, but often they’re not the defining moments of our lives. I think we do ourselves a disservice to focus on the outcome rather than what we went through to get there.

I was pleased to see an alternative approach in Iain Broome’s newsletter where he shares 10 events that have shaped my decade. He writes:

I don’t really feel like I can or want to try and summarise the last decade in a tweet. I definitely don’t want to list my achievements. So instead, I’ve chosen to reflect on the last 10 years by sharing – accepting – the 10 events that got me to where I am now.

As I explained above, I don’t feel like I’m at the end of the current phase of my life (which started in January 2014), but that doesn’t stop me looking back and thinking about what’s got me from there to where I am now. The key moments are:

  • Settling in Newcastle
    Not simply moving back but gradually making a home for myself.
  • Becoming an aunty
    I could not have anticipated what a joy it is to be an aunty and how kids make everything better.
  • Meeting Izzy
    Who constantly helps me to believe that anything is possible.
  • Moving from employment to self-employment
    Slowly and on familiar territory at first. Then full steam ahead, in a new direction and on an unclear path.

And here I am today, figuring things out as I go along.

If you were to identify your key moments, for any period that fits your latest phase of life, what would you include?

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about emma

I am a coach and facilitator helping people to pause, reflect and make conscious choices about what comes next. In my writing I explore themes of personal development, reflective practice and what it means to live well.