5 August 2016

Make your next 10 years

You’re a successful professional, respected by your colleagues and confident about your place in the scheme of things. It’s a great place to be, but it’s important not to get complacent. This is the time for you to start making plans for the next decade of your life; to make the next ten years of your life count.

Whether you are a successful CEO, small business owner, corporate professional, or anything else for that matter, you will have developed a set of practical skills and knowledge alongside personal qualities that have stood you in good stead. Those around you see you for the capable and accomplished person you have become. Many people around you might even see you as a role model for what they want to achieve in their life. If you have not done so yet, it’s time for you to step back and appreciate what you have achieved because this will give you the strength to go on and achieve so much more.

Just as you have applied attention and care to what you have done in your professional life, so too should you apply the same in your personal plan for the future. It’s time to take stock of your life, all you have achieved, and think about where you want to be in the next ten years.

Taking the helicopter view

“You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.” 

― Alvin Toffler

Taking the helicopter view, taking all your surroundings into consideration, is extremely important. You’ve probably worked very hard to get to where you are and maybe haven’t surveyed what’s really before you: do it now. Now’s the time for you to develop the self-awareness to understand where you’ve been, where you are, and where you want to go.

By looking down at your life from the helicopter viewpoint you gain a new perspective. This is an abstract exercise but one well worth doing. Suddenly you’re no longer in the thick of it all, but instead you’re able to see how different elements of your life interact. Connections are made that may not have been easily apparent. The things you had thought of as big issues in your life might not appear quite so important, and other things in your life start to take on a greater dimension.

Looking at your life like this is not unlike looking down upon a chess board, or looking down upon a military strategy board – we can see the pieces that need to be moved and devise strategies for how they are going to be moved. 

You’re the one in the driver’s seat

“On a world built to ordered specification, there was no logical reason for such a mountain to exist. Yet every world should have at least one unclimbable mountain.” 

― Larry Niven

It’s an awe-inspiring thing to realise that you are the one driving this vehicle called life, you’re the person in charge of hurtling through space and time. Think about the next ten years and how you’re going to climb the ‘unclimbable’. What is it you really want to achieve? What is it that will make you happiest?

Think about this across your professional and personal lives, physically, intellectually, and emotionally. What are the decisions you will need to make? Down what path will you have to trek?

You have the power to make things happen. Don’t be afraid to make them happen.

The journey is as important as the destination

“And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far into the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” 

― Rainer Maria Rilke

One of the greatest qualities you can possess is the understanding that tomorrow is a result of what we do today. The decisions we make today lead to our destination. This is why having a plan in place is so important; even though circumstances change, we have a basic plan for where we want to get and how to do it.

Part of your journey is of course shared with the people around you. What you do affects them as well. Being present for those around you, colleagues, family and friends; presence of mind in the decisions and actions we take today; owning what we do as part of who we are and where we are going. Make these things part of your plan for the next ten years.

Enjoy life and integrate all the factors of life together, as best you can (work, family, community, health), while you are on the journey, not only at the end. Because if you sacrifice too much along the way, you may find you don’t have much to share with anyone, or you may have a great deal to share with no one. Then it’s all for nothing.

Making your next ten years count is all about looking at your life objectively and choosing to make the decisions that will put you on the path to what you want to achieve. Think carefully about what that is, and look after yourself and those around you.

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