Stalk anyone on social media these days, and it seems like eventually they’ll talk about how the decade’s nearly done. They’ll share a glow-up before and after photo of them 10 years ago versus now, or reveal that they can’t believe it’ll be 2020 soon. Ok, boomer, you're getting old but it’s time to compose yourself.

Unlike any other era, including 1999-2009, we have the capacity to see photos, status updates and check-ins across the whole span of the decade we’re leaving behind. The past is just sitting there, waiting to be dredged up by Timehop or Facebook Memories, potholed by deleted comments from exes, unfriends or foreign penpals who you used to send money to because they asked nicely.

The question is: what does this do to our capacity to reflect, when those lower-res images and bizarre early posts of us planking are constantly at our fingertips?

Scrutinise without shame

It turns out 10 years is quite a long time for humans (and even longer for cats). The speed of technological innovation and cultural discourse means that memes have a shelf life measured in days and any training you might have undertaken around 2010 is liable to be long obsolete, especially if it was anything to do with online engagement, SEO strategies or how to launch a profitable jeggings and vuvuzela business.

But whether you’ve stayed with the same company for the past 3,650-odd days, jumped ship, declared bankruptcy, built an empire, built someone else’s empire, completely retrained, been put on gardening leave, retired in glory or fallen into freelancing by default after being made redundant, there’s a lot of road to reflect upon.

Even asking yourself what lessons you’ve learned, what mistakes you keep making, why you have so little super when you always seem to be working – these are all big questions that can guide you into the next decade without regret.

Ruminating on the past is rarely useful for its own sake, especially if you’re spending all your time focused on the things you didn’t do, the missed opportunities and risks not taken. It is, however, a good way to spend your December 2019 in the lead up to a fresh new decade that is yet to reveal itself.

The places you’ve been to can illuminate the places you haven’t been to, as well as the places you’d like to be again. For example, I was around 82kg when this decade started and I’m now 2.2% closer to looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

Change is inevitable and it’s good for you

That’s the real joy of all those before-and-after photos – witnessing how much a person can spread out and change over such a significant chunk of time. More than just getting old, it’s an inspirational reminder that who you are today doesn’t have to be who you are when we come together to do all this again in a decade’s time. Maybe you’re recapturing something you’ve lost, or maybe you’re rebuking your younger self for squandering one decade, with an eye for ensuring that it doesn’t happen again.

Think about what you want to have accomplished by the end of play in a decade’s time, what you’d like people to think and say about you, and how you’d like your life to be organised. Then it’s merely a matter of living long enough to see it happen. Now, who said life was hard?

On a concluding note, I’d like to say hello to any 2029 readers who have stopped by to be reminded of this simpler time their younger selves once lived in. Hope the decade to come has been kind, old timer.

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