The recent phenomena of the #10yearchallenge is a strange one, psychologically speaking. We post photos of ourselves now and 10 years ago. We look 10 years older right? Barring accident, illness or injury which has changed our facial appearance, we simply look 10 years older. For me, 10 years ago was the year of my 40th birthday, ten years on, I’m heading (reasonably) gracefully towards my 50th. As you’ll see from the photos, I look 10 years older, as do my wonderful children. Nothing strange about that.
So what does the #10yearchallenge really mean?
When we look at photos of ourselves 10 years ago we are reminded of the hopes and dreams we had then. We think of the experiences we have had in the passing of the years. We think of what we have learned in that time.
I see photos of myself in 2009 each tinged with some sadness because I was trying to make my marriage work ‘one more time’, and hoping my children were unaffected by the seemingly daily arguments and basic unhappiness. I feared the impact that a divorce would bring. All I wanted was to have a happy family. My confidence and self-esteem were on the floor, being kicked around in the dust.
I have learnt so much in the passing of 10 years.
I learnt that I was in fact strong enough to leave an unhappy relationship. I learnt to acknowledge my achievements. Having suffered "imposter syndrome" since I achieved my PhD in 2002, I stepped up and enjoyed responsibilities in my work role as a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Programme Director. I learnt that having a happy family didn’t mean having to sacrifice my own identity. I learnt that I had strengths, knowledge and experience that I didn't know I had within me.
I also learnt some hard and painful lessons. I learnt many unhelpful strategies to try to escape my internal pain, because I found life during divorce to be unbearably difficult at times. I also learnt that these strategies didn’t work, but ultimately they gave me other powerful experiences to grow from and to understand myself better. I learnt forgiveness, acceptance and trust in others, and none of these lessons were easy. But ultimately I learnt these were gifts, because now I am able to use all my experiences, skills and knowledge to help other people.
Most of all, I learnt to face my fears, and tackle them head on.
Ten years on, I think I am almost a different person from who I was then. I am grateful every day for the family that I have, and how happy we are (most of the time!).
I am grateful that I am no longer stuck. Not knowing what to do and unsure of what outcome I even wanted.
I just wanted to be happy, and 10 years ago, I really wasn't.
My choices today aren’t tinged with sadness, but with joy and sometimes trepidation. Being a single mum and running my own business is challenging. But I hope that today I am the role model for my daughters’ that 10 years ago I could only have dreamed of being.
Without doubt, this decade of my life has been the hardest and in many respects the best. I am content and confident in my own skin and most of all I love what I do.
In 2017 I took redundancy from my ‘safe and secure’ job and started my own business training and coaching people in resilience. This experience has opened up a whole new world to me. Supporting others to make transformational change is one of the best jobs in the world.
What the #10yearchallenge is really about
So, the #10yearchallenge isn’t simply about looking at physical changes, it’s about looking beyond the physical, into our psychological world. It creates an opportunity to reflect and acknowledge what pain we have endured, what we have learnt, what we are grateful for.
Perhaps most important of all, the #10yearchallenge isn’t all about looking back, it’s about looking forward. Given everything that has changed in the last 10 years… what will the next ten years bring?
My personal vision for the next 10 years is to help more people to take prioritise their mental wellbeing, to be less stressed and anxious and to be able to Live Life Stronger.
What about you? What will you do in the next 10 years? Who will you be? What will you not regret and be grateful for?
And this is ultimately the best part of the #10yearchallenge – it is within your power to create the change that you want to happen.
The changes I made in my life came with a great deal of support, guidance and love, I could not have done it alone. It’s brought me to where I am now and as a result of what I have learnt I have written my Mood and Mindset Mastery Guide.
Understanding my stress triggers, gaining emotional control and challenging my own limiting beliefs were key success phases in my own transformation. Replacing unhelpful coping strategies with helpful ones, together with learning to self-care was a reminder to prioritise my needs.
When I am feeling resilient, I am rock solid; and I am a better mum, daughter, sister, friend, coach and trainer. You too can learn these strategies in my free Mood and Mindset Mastery Guide, I hope it will help you to Live Life Stronger.