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Want Unvarnished Truth? See Who You Are Through The Telescope Of Decades

I bet you look back at the end of each year to review, tally wins/losses, etc., measuring results vs first of the year expectations. That’s no doubt a universal experience. Did we lose the weight? Do the business? Learn the new language? Master that new skill? Become a better whatever?

This year you may wanna try something different — something that may provide insight more useful than a year’s review. Liken it to comparing stargazing to seeing the night sky through a powerful telescope. Instead of scrutinizing the last 12 months, critically examine the last decade. In fact, begin with the first decade of your adult life, examining each succeeding 10 year period. You have the perspective of having lived it, which will help.

Dad did this on the advice of his father-in-law, back in the late 50’s or very early 60’s. He told me of the life changing realization that hit him like a shotgun blast at pointblank range.

(Paraphrased) “I suddenly realized, with almost terrifying lucidity and coherence, that I could literally accomplish anything I wanted. It had a paralyzing affect on me for days. Not long after, I sat down with pen and paper to set long term goals, and I’ve never looked back.”

You may have more than a few epiphanic moments. I know I sure have. 2010 completes the fourth decade for me, so I can crank up my mental telescope to full power, while conducting postmortems on each successive decade. Like the galaxy, we all have a mental picture of the paths our lives have taken — by choice or otherwise. Yet much as the night sky is orders of magnitude different through the lens of a powerful telescope, so is looking at galaxy-sized blocks of our lives.

It shows how we’ve grown — or haven’t. What lessons we’ve yet to learn, and wisdom we’ve successfully adopted. But most of all you’ll see the truth — in big picture form. Forensically dissecting a decade of your life, or better yet, more than one decade, is a potential goldmine of information about the most important person in the world — you. Imagine a movie showing where you were 10 years ago, and all the years leading to the present. If proffered that opportunity, how many of us would opt to watch it in it’s entirety, warts and all?

It takes no small amount of courage to seriously undertake this sort of decade by decade autopsy of every aspect of your life. Seeing trends, both good and bad is priceless if only to inform us of the naked truth about who we are. Improvement in any aspect of our lives can only begin when we’re able to correctly pinpoint and name what’s blocking the achievement of better results.

Before bravely lurching into this scary venture, I caution you with one caveat. Whatever you discover, whatever epiphanies slam you in the jewels, promise yourself you’ll be painfully honest in how you mentally frame those discoveries that aren’t flattering. That is, don’t frame them at all. Let them be what they are. You can’t replace a bad washer if you refuse to acknowledge the leak. Let the leak continue, unabated for a decade and the damage could be — maybe was? — crippling.

Remember, you’ll be discovering pretty cool things too. They’ll balance out, you wait and see. Speaking for myself, one of the many benefits of this exercise is the clarity it provides. Look how much more quickly we added to our knowledge of the universe when we created and used the telescope. It allowed us to quickly see where we were dead wrong, and absolutely correct.

If that isn’t priceless, I don’t know what is.

Do this seriously and be prepared for startlingly positive results. It’s never a bad thing to learn the unadorned truth about who we are. The piper is paid as we discover things about ourselves we wish weren’t true — but nevertheless attach honest definitions. It’s amazing how smoothly life can flow when we stop tryin’ to cram square pegs into round holes.

Remember — once you do this, there’s no goin’ back. You can’t ‘un-see’ the big picture truth telescopes provide.


6 Comments so far

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Real Estate Feeds. Real Estate Feeds said: Want Unvarnished Truth? See Who You Are Through The Telescope Of Decades: I bet you look back at the end of each… […]

  2. Sean Purcell December 22nd, 2010 9:03 pm

    Phenomenal idea Jeff. Your warning about the importance of total honesty has to be the most important part…

    This reminds me of something Anthony Robbins said that really impacted me: “Most people vastly overestimate what they can accomplish in one year, and vastly underestimate what they can accomplish in ten.”

  3. Jeff Brown December 22nd, 2010 9:22 pm

    I love Robbins and think he both underrated and under appreciated.

    The principle of constant and never ending improvement applied to anything for 10 years produces other worldly results. I was taught that we can choose to live mini-lives of 7-10 years each, until we die. I’ve seen a few guys do it, first hand, in real time.

    The real poser is deciding what the hell we’d like to accomplish by 2020. 🙂

  4. Al Lorenz December 23rd, 2010 11:35 am

    Great thoughts and reminders Jeff and Sean. Have a wonderful Christmas.

  5. Jerry Robertson December 23rd, 2010 8:52 pm

    Ok, this is a great idea. I discussed it with my trainer (the one that helped me lose 50 pounds this year) and she suggested doing it in 5 year chunks. I started by making a list of years and pegging milestone (kids born, schools, etc.) to give me a frame of reference and intend to spend some time there before the new year starts.

    I love the idea and would appreciate any reference to books, blogs, etc that might expand on this idea. I found a few references to ‘life review’ but it does not exactly fit what I am doing.

    Jeff, thanks for sharing this thought and encouraging us they way you do. Have a great Christmas holiday.

  6. Christine Peterson December 25th, 2010 4:53 pm

    Combining long term planning and focus, with an understanding that big results are there for the taking, is a recipe for success. Thanks for the great post.