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What’s on your top 10?

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PHOTO: britishcouncil

It’s now weeks away from the silly season and the end of the year. In fact, we are only a month away from the end of the decade and sure enough, in a few days’ time we’ll have lists as long as our arms of the highlights of the year from culture and music to politics and international affairs.

Every year as I peruse the lists of top ten books of the year, or the events that shaped the decade, or whatever else can be turned into a list for Sunday supplements, I always think of personal highlights and lowlights… If each one of us compiled our own list, what would make it to the top ten, what events would have shaken us to the core or what milestones would be era-defining?

I am a fan of retrospection – without studying our past, we are bound to repeat its patterns well into the future – whether good or bad. I think retrospection is key to progress.

Why not take the time this weekend to compile your own list of the last year, or even extend to the last decade? After all, imagine how much your life might have changed in the last ten years.

Fretting about what felt like the world’s weight on my shoulders a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded by a friend that we’d most likely be laughing about it in a year’s time. Wise words I needed to hear at that very moment, but also wise words that make me now wonder just how many mini disasters I went through a decade ago that are now so far behind in the rear view mirror that I can’t even remember them, let alone have a laugh.

For that reason perhaps, I’d start with those moments that you felt the world was crumbling down. If you too were to entertain the thought, which would be your top ten of the last decade? Could you remember each? How did you pull through to the other side? What lessons did they teach you? If they’ve scarred you, what scars will you be taking into the next decade?

It’s only fair to move on to highlights after, I reckon. This is the list that’s likely going to make you feel smug looking back over your accomplishments, victories, those moments you felt like the king/queen of the world. Were they professional or personal highlights? Was it a promotion or acing your dream job or finally finishing that degree? Was it the arrival of a much longed for bundle of joy? Or finally have enough in your savings to afford that dream getaway? I can guarantee you this will be the most pleasant walk down memory lane, making you feel all over again the same glorious glow of each of those milestones you accomplished.

I remember 2009 – it was the year I quit seven years in teaching to start FAB Magazine – a dream of many years finally come true. The next couple of years brought many joys and equally countless disappointments, but also a lifetime of experience, not just in human behaviour but in the world of marketing, communications and event management. What could have ended as a major disappointment early on in the decade turned into a stepping stone to a whole new career – who would have thought? The more I look back over the course of the decade the more I realise how seemingly random curveballs life throws at you end up being the paving stones to a future you might have never dreamed of.

Then there are the new adventures and challenges, new achievements. What new adventures – physical, mental and spiritual – have you been on in the last decade? Climbing a mountain, whether it was a literal or a metaphorical one? Perhaps you ran a marathon, learned a new language or went backpacking solo in Australia… The person who started the adventure, I guarantee you, is not the same one who completed it.

I took up cycling only a few months ago, and I am definitely not the same person before I found a new lease of life on the saddle. It made me discover an inner strength I didn’t even know existed a year ago, let alone a decade.

Socially, my life’s changed too in incredible ways. Incredible because ten years ago my idea of a good weekend was a sleep in till 11 am followed by a date with my couch and my TV. Now most weekends start at 7 am. As much as my inner demons often scream that it is too early to go out cycling for miles, or my muscles, still not warmed up, scream within the first five miles, that inner strength drives me towards the finish line.

Cycling is just one of the many things that I have picked up in the last ten years that are likely going to shape the next ten. While they all seem random as they’re happening, I’ve been on this earth long enough to know nothing is quite the coincidence we think it is, and all will be connected in mysterious, beautiful ways at some point in the future.

Hence I encourage you, take an hour this weekend, clear your mind and your to do list, and make your list of top tens for the last decade. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how far you’ve come.


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