A goal is a dream with a deadline
— Napoleon Hill
Reno is a crappy town. It’s basically a bad Las Vegas. The casinos are raggedy, the hotels have seen better days and almost every time I’ve gone it has been maddeningly cold. If Vegas is “glamorous/tacky, Reno is just tacky/tacky. Having said that, Jammie and I have made a point of taking a road trip to Reno every year since 2009. Why? Here’s the answer in a word: Planning.
For some reason, every time we go to Reno we talk about the future and our life goals. I’m not talking about vague chatter either. I think it is the beautiful mountain scenery on the route that inspires us. We start to deeply intentionally strategize.
One of the most tangible results of our annual Reno Road Trip planning so far has been this 2013 service trip around the world. There are more developments in the pipeline! Intense planning and follow-up simply works.
Reason to focus on 10 Years from now:
Do me a quick favor:
Think about the path you are on in life. Now project out 10 years. Where will you be? What will you be doing? If you stay on the same career path (and are reasonably competent) you will likely have the job, schedule and headaches of your current boss. Like the sound of that?
If this little exercise makes you happy, that’s awesome. Congratulations, you are on track. If it makes your stomach churn, it is time to change gears. Here are a few reasons to get crystal clear about your goals and how you want your life to look 10 years from now:
1.) You leap ahead of the pack (at least according to your own standards)
Most people, myself included, have felt like they are just going through the motions in life. Most people just sort of exist and conform. They do what those around them are doing. This is fine if you never want do anything remarkable in life… But if what you want to do is stand out from the competition and make a difference, you have to be explicit about planning the future and seeing it as clearly as possible in your head. Your life will naturally follow what you focus on, so be sure to be intentional and get this right.
2) It allows you to think big
“Do not think that what is hard for you to master is humanly impossible; and if it is humanly possible consider it to be within your reach.” Marcus Aurelius
If you are planning your ideal life 10 years from now you may as well be thinking very big. Don’t get sucked into what small-minded people call “realism”. It is often just a disguise for running scared in life and never attempting anything remarkable. You can do a lot in 10 years. Aim high.
3) It gives you energy
Thinking big gives you an adrenaline rush. Every time my close-knit group of accountability partners and I talk big goals, we feel a rush of energy. It’s a wonderful feeling that will help fuel you through the inevitable missteps and setbacks on the path to accomplishing your goal. That is why people with very big goals often achieve them whereas people that people that aim low and just shuffle around in life don’t even reach the cop-out goals they may have set for themselves.
4) It allows you to say “no”
A 10-year perspective is very helpful in helping you decide what matters and what doesn’t. I was the king of over-commitment until I really took this to heart. I would get so caught in the moment and in trying to please work superiors, friends and community members that I would agree to projects, committees and other commitments that had nothing to do with what I felt called to do in life. Freedom from this came with a decision. I decided that, no matter what, I was going to be brutally focused on the long-term picture. Then I started cutting the fat and saying “no” to peripheral things that were muddying my vision. This was hugely liberating and has helped me focus on the important.
5) It helps you recognize personal bias
People always have a take on what you should be doing. But unless they know your 10 year plan, they probably will give you crap advice. Don’t take it. No matter how wise with years they may seem.
Don’t get me wrong, great, mature mentors that understand you, your talents and dreams, are invaluable in life. But so much of the other so-called advice from people that are projecting their own prejudices, fears and desires on to you, can be safely ignored.
6) It gives you a thicker skin
There are always going to be idiots in life. I am naturally over-sensitive and was far more easily offended by people’s assaults (whether passive aggressive or outright) until I started to take my 10 year goals seriously. I started repeating my goals to myself regularly, often several times a day. Suddenly, petty barbs from stressed out coworkers were less offensive. What did this little insult matter in the big picture? Not much at all.
I’m going to wrap this for now but feel free to add to the list in the comment section. Do you think it is important to have a 10-year plan? If so, share why. What do you do to stay focused on the long-term?