My 10-Year Test

I use the Pocket app which I love. It allows me to hold on to interesting articles to read (or re-read) later on the subway (where I still often have little signal).

One that I finally got around to reading is titled The 10-Year Test: The Best Way to See if You’re on the Right Career Track.

The gist of the article is that, when you feel stuck and you don’t think you are making progress, reflect on how far you’ve come in the last 10 years. I’ve been thinking a lot about my life trajectory, especially in the wake of this crazy election, but I never really thought of it this way.

The author makes a compelling argument against the constant anxiety around our forward-looking plans.

Instead of imagining and envisioning what hasn’t happened, look at what has. If you could see your life (your job, your home, the people in it) as a stranger would, what would you think of it—and yourself?

I got to thinking about this and it really is eye-opening:

Ten years ago, I had just moved in with my boyfriend (now husband). He and I were working really hard at relatively low paying jobs in the arts, him in theater and myself at a nonprofit, which was my first real job out of college. We just barely were able to afford the very small apartment we lived in. And, at that point, I was really unhappy with my body.

If you would have told me then that 10 years later I would be regularly training at an elite muay thai kickboxing academy and keeping off 60 pounds of weight loss, I would’ve been shocked.

I also would be shocked to learn that I cut my hair super short in those first couple of post-college years. And that I loved it! I would have never guessed that the short mop of curly hair would become my signature look ever since.

Additionally, I’d be impressed with the various industries I’ve been able to work within and the leadership skills I’ve developed. I’m much more prepared today to manage people and projects than I was when I first had the opportunity about 9 to 10 years ago.

Finally, I’d be surprised by the nest egg I’ve been able to amass over the years (compounding works!). Now, we are in a position to seriously consider the idea of buying property. Whether it is a vacation home or our forever home, it’s far more of a real consideration now than it has ever been.

So, while the world is still crazy, this is a nice way to count your blessings and appreciate your past self for all the work she put into making you the person you are today. And hopefully in another ten years, I can reflect in the same way and see more progress.

Personally, I know I always love it when past Jen ends up killin’ it to future Jen’s benefit!