The 10 Year Challenge: why you should do a personal retrospective

  • Published on:
    January 28, 2019
  • Reading time by:
    5 minutes

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook newsfeed was flooded recently with people’s pictures of ‘then and now’ as part of the #10yearchallenge. I found it interesting seeing how much some people have changed and how so many others seem not to have aged a single day or changed in any way whatsoever.

But that’s where we make the mistake. In 10 years, everybody changes. A lot. But the changes go far beyond the superficial physical changes to our faces and our bodies. This got me thinking about my own life and how much has changed in 10 years and how it has changed me and I realized just how important it is for every one of us to do a regular personal ‘retrospective’ and take stock of our journey and how far we have come. 

I would like to invite you to take this journey with me and examine your life and draw inspiration from all the things you have overcome and triumphed over to be the amazing, inspiring person you are today:


One of the biggest myths we have all been raised with, is the concept of ‘happily ever after’ and that relationships should last an entire lifetime or that we should feel a sense of shame or failure of a relationship – be it a friendship or romantic relationship – didn’t last until the Reaper came for one of us. 

The truth is that people change and that they learn and grow, often in different directions. And that is totally 100 percent ok! There is no shame or failure in spending two years or five years or 10 years being a partner and a friend and then releasing the experience and going your separate ways. Every single person we encounter, has an impact on our lives and we all leave emotional fingerprints on the souls of all we come into contact with.

How we are remembered by others, becomes a part of our legacy and we won’t always be remembered fondly. All we can do. Is the best we know how to do, given the information we have and who we are at any given moment and honestly strive to always be kind and empathetic and add positive experiences and memories for the people we come into contact with. 

Look back over the past 10 years and think of the new friends you have made and also about the friendships and romantic relationships that have ended. What did you learn from these people? How did they help you grow? Is there perhaps someone in your life right now (perhaps more than one person) who isn’t positively contributing to your life and your journey and who isn’t encouraging you to be a better ‘you’? If the answer is ‘yes’, you may need to let them go with love, as the relationship has run its course and if you don’t walk away soon, you are only likely to start feeling resentful and used – especially if you are a ‘giver’ and they are a ‘taker’. 


In 10 years, a lot can change in our working lives. We change jobs or get promoted or even embark on entirely new careers or start our own businesses. All of these experiences change us in many different ways and we learn and grow as a result.

I am willing to bet that you are no exception and that if you sit down and actually think about it, you will realize just how much you have learned and how much you have to contribute. You might also become aware of some areas where you can improve or where you need to improve your technical skills and abilities.

Or perhaps you come to the realization that you are really unhappy in your current role and it’s time to change jobs or finally start that business. Whatever it is that you uncover during this session, you should trust your intuition and take some time out to complete a little GROW coaching session, either by yourself or with a trusted peer or coach.

This will help you to gain clarity about your career goals and identify the resources and opportunities you have at your disposal and also identify the obstacles you may be facing. Once you have a clear picture of all of these various factors, you will be able to start putting a step-by-step action plan together, aimed at getting you closer to that goal. 

Life Challenges

Life has a way of throwing all kinds of curveballs at us – serious illness, our parents or loved ones suddenly passing away, an unexpected or unplanned pregnancy, financial hardship, relocation – you name it and either you or someone close to you, has gone through some kind of personal life challenges in the last 10 years. None of us are immune and none of us will escape unchanged.

What I have realized though, is that even when we are in the midst of our darkest times and we think we won’t get through it, every storm runs out of rain and even the darkest nights bring a hopeful new dawn again. Take some time during this retrospective and examine the ways you have personally changed and grown as a result of all your life experiences and challenges.

Take a moment to celebrate your amazing perseverance and resilience and your track record of overcoming absolutely everything that life has thrown at you. 

In completing this retrospective, what have you learned about yourself? What behaviours or beliefs do you need to change, going forward? Are the things that you typically tell yourself about who you are and what abilities you have, actually true? Or did you realize that these things come from a place of fear and your fear holds you back from living your dreams and reaching your goals because it keeps you playing small?

Are you ready to step outside that comfortable little fear-based cocoon and take a leap towards the life you want? Knowing what you know now about yourself, are you proud of all you have done and overcome? So what are you waiting for? 

Please don’t wait another 10 years to do a retrospective on your life. You need to take stock regularly of where you are, what you have overcome and where you are headed. You just might find out that you stop merely surviving and you actually start thriving! 

Deborah Hartung

She has spent almost 20 years advising corporates on matters relating to employee relations, corporate culture and leadership development. Deborah is passionate about people and technology, the human experience in the workplace and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age.  

Especially popular with young or first-time leaders, entrepreneurs and women in leadership, Deborah encourages all those she meets to align with their purpose and to be brave enough to be authentic in all their interactions.  She writes about life, love, leadership, workplace culture, the future of work and the importance of making the world a kinder, more tolerant place. 

Deborah lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and is committed to ensuring that her children – daughter, Reagan and son, Owen – have as many adventures and experiences as possible. Amongst her friends she is known as the woman who always needs at least SPF50 sunscreen and someone who can trip and fall whilst barefoot and stone cold sober. A big fan of tequila, craft beer and MCC, Deborah loves entertaining friends and is secretly a rather big fan of baking. 

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