You: 10 Years From Now

The Reno Road Trip: Perfect goal-setting conditions ahead!


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?


16 thoughts on “You: 10 Years From Now”

  1. I was intrigued by the bit about “accountability partners.” Maybe you could expand on that in a future blog?

    1. Sure! I’ll make sure I dedicate a post to my accountability crew… For now I’ll say that what they say about a person being the average of his/her five closest friends is true for better or for worse…

  2. Bjorn–I totally admire your thoughts about the importance of looking ahead to how you want your life to be 10 years from now. I definitely zeroed in on your term “brutally focused on the long-term picture.” Thank you for stimulating my thinking about my own life 10 years from now. I send much love and gratitude to you and Jammie.

    1. Thanks for the input Linda! Your thoughts on happiness that you shared with Jammie and I (the idea that we each have a choice decide to be happy) definitely ties into this thinking about the 10-year horizon. I am looking forward to catching up in the near future…

  3. Live with purpose: we set our “ten-year plans” about eight years ago! I think we’re doing alright. Bjorn, I love your inspiration!

    10 years will never arrive… We must continue to grow and set new goals. Goals are accomplished every minute every hour. Or not if procrastination sets in. Having a defined ten-year goal or 10 minute goal house keep us on track. I love the way you think big and help to set my sights on the 10 year goal.

    I also greatly appreciate your perspective on creating boundaries with your long-term goals. I also find this most useful! It is difficult to remember to put aside the values of my superiors in favor of my own.


    1. DJ.. you are a huge inspiration to me. Thanks for your encouragement and for being part of my accountability bros. You are for sure one of the best examples I’ve got of a close friend who set their sights on a goal and went for it all out… Congrats on the success we are already seeing.

      And yes, let’s keep setting those 10-year goals…

  4. I am a HUGE believer in goal setting. Big projects are not accidentally accomplished and inspirational visions don’t piece themselves together. God has given each of us the ability to be the Captain’s of our own destiny. For those that have traveled to the middle east, you know that many times conversations frequently end with the phrase, “Inshallah” (if Allah wills). I think it is impossible to overstate the significance of this simple phrase.

    Self-determination is a unique part of the human experience. We are all Chief Executive Officers of our own lives.

    1. “Chief Executive Officers of our own lives” – I love that… you know I think that strategy and planning were some of the most useful things I learned in healthcare philanthropy.. there is something about the detached (in a good way) planning that is cool-headed, results-oriented and very applicable to personal life planning as well as the board room…

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