Birthdays that end in “zero” have never impacted me. Years that end in “zero” are a different story. When I turned 20, that birthday seemed no different from the several before or the several to follow. But six months later, when the calendar approached 1980, the feeling was profound and unforgettable. The same can likely be said for you and me as we welcome the “Roaring 20s.”

As television shows relived the 1970s, I relived my own journey. When the decade began, I was two-thirds of the way through elementary school; when it ended, I was two-thirds of my way through college. At its beginning, I had never played a band instrument. At its end, I was prepared for a career in teaching band.

Three questions

As television relives the last decade and makes predictions for the one to follow, it’s a good time for us to do the same on a personal level. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. What are the decisions you made over the last decade that resulted in a significant change in your life? Perhaps the decision was where to attend college, what job to take, what job to leave, or what relationship to foster. Perhaps the decision was a project to undertake that succeeded beyond your wildest expectations.
  2. Who were the people that influenced your decisions? Nobody lives life in isolation. The advice comes from every direction. In a noisy world, the most important messages come not from a giant billboard, but by a whisper. Who are the people responsible for those whispers in your ear during his last decade?
  3. What have you learned from the successes and failures of the last decade? You’ll have an opportunity to use those lessons in the one ahead.

Life runs in cycles; history repeats itself

I remember seeing a picture of my grandmother as a young woman in the “Roaring 20s” complete with the dress typical of the time. It was an age that saw developments in the automobile, radio, telephones, and movies. It was a decade of economic prosperity, but one that ended in economic disaster. It was a decade in which each passing day put us farther from a world war while at the same time a day closer to another one.

Your own life cycles

In the 1965 book “Libraries of the Future,” J. C. R. Licklider writes, “People tend to overestimate what can be done in one year and to underestimate what can be done in five or ten years.” According to, Licklider disclaimed credit for the quote, but was referring to it as a “modern maxim.” It’s one still relevant as we again welcome these “Roaring 20s.”

The decisions you made

You made some good decisions over the last 10 years. What were the circumstances that surrounded the very best? At the same time, what were the circumstances that led to the worst? Take what you learned and duplicate the circumstances that lead to life-enhancing change.

The people you met

Who were the people who “whispered in your ear” and influenced the best outcomes in your life? Continue to listen to them and others like them. Also learn to recognize the “pretenders.” They may pretend to have your best interest at heart but have their own agendas. Spend so much time listening to wise people that you don’t have time left over for the noisemakers.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Look around to see who those five people are in your life today. Adjust accordingly. Who are the people you would like to know but don’t know right now? There’s a chance you know someone who knows someone who can make the introduction. There are people who will play a significant role in your life over the next decade, for good or bad, that you have not even met. Get started fostering the positive relationships.

The lessons we learn

What do you want life to look like when the calendar says “2030”? What will your life look like in terms of your education? What about your financial situation, health, or job status? If the answer to the questions is, ” I don’t know,” then it’s tough to make the decisions and foster the relationships that will get you there.

Write a letter

In a blog post entitled “Christmas Letters from the Future” I talked about writing a letter to yourself. Write it as if December had already arrived and you are recounting the accomplishments of the year. I invite you to review that post and use it as a way to help the article you read now to guide on the road ahead.

The decade ahead is a book of blank pages. As we welcome the Roaring 20s, what we write will be determined by the decisions we make, the people meet, and the lessons we learn along the way.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Let the “20s” hear you roar.