When I was 25, I wrote a one-page story about everything that I was going to accomplish in the next 10 years.
I still have the letter, and when I reviewed it recently, I had accomplished about 80% of what I had written down in the 11 years since I wrote the letter. This type of planning isn’t something that we typically do for ourselves, but businesses do it all the time. Businesses call it a Master Plan, Business Plan, Strategic Plan, 10-Year Vision, Big Hairy Audacious Goal, etc. But have you ever heard of a business saying, “I don’t know what I want to do with my life?”
Of course not, that would be silly. So why do we let ourselves get away with that bullshit?
Here is a practical way to discover your life’s purpose.
I suggest using a 10 year time horizon because we overestimate what we can do in a year and underestimate what we can do in a decade. 10 years away let’s us be very bold and have a high chance of achieving our vision. We also live many lives in our lifetime. You can’t predict what you will want in 30 years, but you can in 10 years.
Build your your vision one question at a time
I recently did this and I started with three exercises.
- Brainstorm my perfect life in each of these categories. Don’t hold back.
- Health - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual
- I answered these questions without any self-judgment.
- What do I want?
- Who do I want to be around?
- What do I want to be?
- What do I want to do?
- What do I want my legacy to be? What does legacy mean to me? This one is new for me, but made sense for where I am in my life.
Write it down and make it real
The next step is the critical piece. You have to write it down in a story format. Pretend you are 10 years in the future and you’re writing a 1-page memoir. What have you accomplished? What does your life look like? What are you proud of? How do you feel? Who is with you? Focus on the emotions, the being, and what you have accomplished. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Just write it down.
Go, go, go! Start down your path
I’m convinced that most people don’t know what they want to do because they’re scared shitless of committing to something and failing. If that’s you, just know that every successful person I know has that same feeling. But the difference is successful people take action. Get off the bench. Get in the game. Success is a contact sport. Start now. Today. This Hour.
Review your path regularly
Don’t worry if you aren’t quite sure about the path you’ve selected. I only accomplished 80% of what I wrote down in that first letter? The 20% that I didn’t accomplish was the stuff that wasn’t really me. It was the stuff that I thought I had to put in there. It was someone else’s hopes and dreams and requirements for my life. Every 90 days, review your letter. If it doesn’t feel right, go back and do the same exercise again. You’ll refine your 10 year vision and improve it. And you’ll notice that you start living more and more of it every day.