It’s time to start thinking about 2020. It will be here before you know it, and you are going to need to start thinking about what you want to accomplish during your next trip on a tiny, nondescript rock circling a giant, burning ball of gas in an unlikely corner of the universe. But before you get started thinking about the next year, know that is no regular year-end. It is also the end of a decade, which means in addition to taking stock of your last year, you also need to look at your balance sheet for your last decade.
We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day and underestimate what we can do in a week. You can extend this idea by recognizing how much you can do in a year, an amount of work that is dwarfed by what you can accomplish in a decade. Because we are often possessed by a distorted sense of time, we don’t tend to make long-term goals or plans to accomplish them.
Your Balance Sheet
A financial balance sheet contains an accounting of your assets, which you can consider the things you accomplished over some time, like a year, or in this case, a decade. It also measures your liabilities, those things that you are responsible for, something you still owe someone. Your obligations for our purposes here will be the results you should have created but didn’t.
The perspective provided by a single year is helpful, but the accounting of a year is inadequate when you look at your more substantial, longer-term goals and dreams. While the last year might have been spectacular, what did the other nine years look like? What is your trajectory?
- What did you accomplish over the last decade?
- In what ways did you grow and develop over the last ten years?
- What were the critical outcomes you created?
- Which of your goals did you reach?
- What were your personal successes?
- What were your business successes?
- How did the last decade prepare and position you for the next ten years?
- What should you have accomplished over the last decade that went unaccomplished?
- In what areas should you have grown and improved but still require work? How does this unaddressed liability still impact your results?
- What are the critical outcomes that went undone during the last decade?
- What goals do you need to carry into the next decade because you didn’t accomplish them in the last?
- What were your personal failures, and what did they teach you?
- What were your business failures, and what did you learn from them?
- What results do you need to create in the next decade to catch up?
The perspective of a decade is much more revealing than the perspective of a year. Thinking in longer terms raises the stakes on how you feel about what is possible for you. It changes how you think about your goals and your plans. By taking stock of your last decade, you will prime your mind to start planning the next decade.
If you are brave enough to draft your balance sheet for the year 2030, you will gain greater clarity on what you want—and what you are going to have to do to bring that balance sheet to fruition.
There are a few weeks left this year for you to reflect on the last decade, what you accomplished, and what was left undone. Remember that you can do less in a shorter period than you believe, but you can also do much, much more over a longer-term than you believe possible.
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