What if someone asked you a very simple question.
“Where do you think you’ll be ten years from today? What do you want in your life in ten years?”
Chances are you’ve thought about this on many levels. We all have. You can’t read a self-help book or take a class in life balance without goal planning as a part of the process.
So we build things into our lives for the future. We use goals to give us direction for the coming years.
If you have a ten-year-old child, ten years from today she’ll be in college. What does your empty nest look like?
If you are inching towards retirement, how will you fill your days when they’re all about you?
And that’s just the beginning. We’ve been taught to focus in on future goals. We tend to think of time chunks in the distant and not-so-distant future. What are your one year goals? Your ten? Your twenty? Yep, we have them all tidied up and a neat little basket, locked away in a place where we tell ourselves we’re working on them.
Sure you are. How’s that working out for you?
Because eventually things happen, we have crises to deal with and problems that interfere with where we thought we’d like to go.
Life Happens. Sometimes in a very big way. And we get completely thrown off course, dealing with things as they are thrown our way. Til eventually we end up ten years in the future, wishing oh-so-much how we would have done those few things we dreamed about not long ago.
Feels like groundhog’s day sometimes, doesn’t it?
While questions about future goals can be enlightening, they don’t help you make changes today, right here in the now.
When a reporter asked Jeff Bezos what he thought would change most in 10 years, he said a better question was to ask what’s not going to change in the next ten years? Because only then can you gain perspective on what matters most. When you know something to be true, that’s where you should spend your time and energy.
So what if you turned the goals question around? Instead of asking what you would like to change in your life over the next 10 years, what if instead you asked:
What satisfies you enough today that you would like to have it be an even bigger part of your life in the next decade?
That question allows you to look at the plusses in your life right now, and use them to begin designing a better future.
Because there’s a lot in your life that works for you – right now. There are many things you love about your days. There are many things you enjoy about your current lifestyle (even if you only relish in them a few minutes at a time.)
Health – What do you do that works at making you a healthier you?
Relationships – Who are the most important people in your life?
Career – What skills give you pleasure and self-worth when you have the time to work at them?
Hobbies – What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Lifestyle – What is your idea of a perfect day?
A few years ago, I began cooking dinner at home a few times a week. It was difficult finding vegetarian meals in restaurants, and I knew I could eat healthier if I made it myself. A one night a week quickly turned into three, four and five as I discovered not only did it taste better, it was healthier too. We maintain our weight easier. Our blood tests every year confirm we’re doing it right. So my goal from a few years ago of eating healthier as been confirmed and implemented into my life, right now.
A few years ago, I wanted to build a stronger relationship with my husband. Yes, we worked together, side by side. Unfortunately, we were working ten, twelve hours a day at the business. All of our time was spent on business issues. When we had time together, we talked business. Not a healthy way to develop a close relationship. So onto my goal list went my desire to have a stronger commitment to my husband. I focused on what was working – our love of travel – and built a life where we could do more of that together without bringing the business along with us. Today we digitally detox every weekend, traveling to a new location as a part of our current quest to slow travel the Pacific Northwest. Yes, we bring our phones. For Siri. What did people ever do without Siri for maps in the past?! Otherwise, our phones stay tucked away while we hike, play and tour all hours of the day. And talk about us, not business.
Goals don’t happen overnight. They become reality one step at a time.
And once they are in your life, maintain and modify with the new information you learn becomes a whole lot easier than starting at the very bottom of the goal.
I look back now at goals on my list from even just a few short years ago. What made all the difference was concentrating on what works, then adding more of that every chance I get.
So what works in your life? What do you want to do more of? Do you want to eat better? Work out more? Have a better relationship with your spouse? Travel more? Build a business?
It doesn’t start ten years from now. It starts today. What are you doing TODAY that can help bring you closer to your goal?
Plan a meal. Take a hike. Kidnap your spouse for a weekend away. Talk about what works and how you’d like more of that in your life right now.
Then sit back and imagine where you’ll be ten years from today.