Not only are we nearing the end of the year, but we are also nearing the end of the decade. To tell you the truth, this never even crossed my mind until I started seeing all the posts about it. These posts carried a weighty message – “how are you making the most of these last days of the decade?”
I want you to sit with that message. What feelings come up for you when you see these posts or hear that message?
To me, that message implies you haven’t done enough. It gives a false idea that somehow you’re going to make up for all your perceived shortcomings or failures of the last 10 years in a matter of a mere month. It makes you feel like you are running out of time – it’s now or never. It causes you to push for the sake of pushing versus taking aligned action. And all this during a time when we are wanting to slow down and enjoy a season that is supposed to be joyous.
Are these feelings you had before you saw posts like these? Sure, we may be aware of the ways we might like to make changes in our lives, but I bet these types of posts leave you feeling worse about your life and yourself than you did before. They may inspire you to take action, but are they leading you to take action towards things you truly want?
These types of messages threaten to steer us away from our inner truth. They leave us unsure of ourselves. They leave us berating ourselves for where we are in life and for not doing enough. They cause us to be guided by external expectations rather than our own inner compass.
The problem is, these messages only skim the surface of looking at our lives. They don’t get to the heart of what we want out of life. This can misguide us.
I’m a big fan of self-reflection and looking at what we truly want out of life. The new year or a new decade can be a good time to do that work. We can be inspired to look at where things aren’t lining up in our lives. But it isn’t the only time and it isn’t even necessarily the right time for everyone.
What does a new decade even mean? Our measurements of time are man-made after all. We are all at different places in our lives as we enter a new decade. To say we all have to make the most of this time fails to acknowledge our unique experiences and circumstances.
And what is the best use of our time? That is different for each of us and the stage of life we are in.
How to use these last days of the decade
So what do we do with this time as we approach a new year and a new decade? I want you to use this time to look inside of yourself for what you need out of this time – not what some outside influence says you should be doing and not by looking around at what others are doing. What do you really need right now? What would make you feel good as the year and decade comes to a close? Here are some things to consider as you do this.
Run messages like these through a filter
In the same manner I opened this blog post, explore the feelings that come up when you see messages like these. Those first feelings might be along the lines of feeling like you’re running out of time or that you need to do more or that you’re somehow failing at life. It doesn’t leave us feeling very good about ourselves or where we are in life.
These messages aren’t there to help us feel good about ourselves. They are there to make us feel like we aren’t enough, we haven’t done enough, or we need to be someone other than who we are.
I want you to look at these feelings. Is this how you really feel or is this based on the expectations of who you should be? Is this message important and meaningful to you? How can you extend yourself love and grace at this moment?
Honor your season of life
We are all in different seasons of life. We all have different goals. Some of us do have things we want to achieve by the end of the year and decade and the capacity to do so. Others are slowing down, taking care of ourselves, and doing the inner work. And millions of places in between.
The message to do more as we close out a decade assumes we all need to be hustling to make the most of it, but there are plenty of other ways to use this time. What is right for you in your season of life?
Don’t take action purely for the sake of taking action
Another way this message can be damaging is it can cause us to take action just because we feel like we should. We feel like we didn’t get enough done in this year, in this decade, and by pushing, we can somehow make up for feeling like we’ve fallen short of where we thought we’d be by now.
If you had a goal for the year or decade that you can complete by the end of the year without feeling crappy, then great! Take action!
But, if not, look at if you’re putting more on your plate just because you feel like you should. Make sure the things you schedule are meaningful – either they move you towards a larger goal (one that you’re aligned with) or they make you feel good. If not, ditch them and find more meaningful ways to spend this time.
If it feels right, reflect on your life and what you would like next
Whether we’re entering a new decade or simply a new year, this time of year can be deeply introspective. We often reflect on where we’re at in life and what isn’t matching up. For many, this time of year can leave us feeling like we’re falling short of expectations – either ones we’ve placed upon ourselves or ones placed on us by others.
These negative feelings stem from measuring our life based on what others expect of us or what others are doing with their life. Rather than let these default feelings guide you, I encourage you to dig deeper. Look at what it is you really want out of life – not what’s expected of you or what puts on appearances to others. I want you to decide for yourself how you want to feel in life and what would get you there.
As I said, this may be a good time of year for you, or it may not. I’m really not a fan of New Year’s resolutions for many reasons, but especially because it’s such an arbitrary time of year. I encourage you to look at your life and decide to make the changes you want at any time of year – not just the start of the new year. But if now feels like a good time for you, then dig deep into what you really want.
Consider setting intentions vs goals
Another reason I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions is that the goals we set usually aren’t very meaningful to us. We set them because we feel like we should. Then, big surprise, we don’t follow through on them.
As a business owner, I’ve tried many goal-setting methods. I’ve set measurable goals, I’ve set SMART goals, I’ve set goals I thought I should – goals that would make my business a success based on outward appearances.
And it doesn’t work. Just as with New Year’s resolutions, the follow-through isn’t there. We either miss the steps needed to reach those goals or we simply aren’t connected to why we want to achieve these things.
What does work is doing the introspective work to look at what we really want out of life and how we want to feel. Only from there can we set goals in alignment with who we are and what we want. Goals we’re more likely to follow through on because we feel good in pursuit of them.
I don’t even call these goals because I structure them differently. They are measured by how they make me feel versus checking off another box. I call them intentions.
My intentions are a little more open-ended than traditional goals but more traditional, box-checking goals can fall under them as ways I am living out my intentions. For example, my 2019 intentions were to make more art, less hustle and more flow, and to nurture my relationships. I let these intentions guide me on how I spend my time and what I work towards.
Unlike past goals, I actually achieved my intentions for the year and ended the year on a high note rather than feeling like I came up short. This is because intentions are feelings-driven, they allow you to work in larger, more concrete goals as well as the smaller, daily practices that fill you up, and creating an intention usually involves more of the inner work to ensure what you’re working towards is in alignment with your true desires.
Take some time for you
Wherever you’re at on your journey – whether you’re hustling towards the finish line of one of your yearly goals, slowing down and enjoying the holidays, choosing to do the introspective work to look at what you want out of the next year or decade, or taking time to heal for past traumas and wounds, there is one thing we can all do. I want you to schedule in some time for you – whatever recharges you. Take a bubble bath, make art, gift yourself a massage, read a book, sit and intentionally sip that hot cup of tea. Most of us don’t get enough self-care. Give yourself that gift of self-love.
Finally, as you wrap up your year and decade, I want you to know that where you are right now is enough. You are enough. It’s okay to want more while not beating yourself up for not being there already. You can love yourself as you are now and work towards the life of your dreams. You aren’t running out of time. Everything that is meant for you awaits you and will happen at your right time. Trust your journey and trust your inner knowing. There is no one outside of you that has the answers to your life.
What do you think of these “do more” messages at the end of the year? How do you like to spend the last part of the year?