Twelve months is too small for a life plan. The moment you understand this, the new year celebrations become a cliché. Success in life is always a build-up of several years of consistent “little” progress. The new year celebration is for gratitude, not for life planning or to change your life.
People often overestimate what they can achieve in a year. But they greatly underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years. I discovered a whole new way of making progress in life quite recently. It was from the story of how a friend of mine made her most profound life progress yet. It began with a simple test that can change your life.
My friend was working in a small non-governmental organization that year. She was unsure of how to go forward in life. Life was looking scary and she was getting confused. Then, she attended a conference and took a simple test that helped her change her life.
Here are the 5 questions you must answer in the next 5 minutes to change your life:
1. What do you want to be doing (as work) 10 years from now?
Forget about today. Forget about next year. Let us go a bit further into the future. This question is not asking what you think you will be doing in 10 years. The question is asking what you would like to be doing in 10 years.
Saying that you want to be travelling around the world doesn’t count. Even if you plan to retire by then, you still have to be doing something to be responsible. To be doing nothing is to have no reason to be alive. Other people must feel your impact in some way. So, add 10 to your age and write down what you would like to be doing then.
My friend wanted to be working with top international organizations like the UN. She wants to be winning grants and handling big projects in her field. What is yours?
“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho
2. Who is doing what you want to be doing in 10 years?
Believe it or not, there are people that are already living at least a similar version of your dream today. Do you know them? If you think there aren’t any, I challenge you to get on the internet and find out now.
Try as much as possible to find at least five names. Write only people whose life conforms to your answer in question 1. For my friend, she realized most of those she knew who had this life were in professors in academia. Go out and find your potential mentors today!
3. Identify (from the people you listed) who you need to become to get to your dream
It became clear to my friend that she ought to aim at becoming a university professor. Interestingly, she had always wanted this but never gave it attention. There is a person you’ll need to become to make your dream a reality. Until you identify who you need to be to have the life you want, your life will be without focus or direction. Who have you identified you need to be?
4. What job, work or responsibility will put you on a straight path to becoming who you’ve identified in question 3?
For my friend, she instantly knew she should be seeking a job opportunity at a University. It was the straight path to rise through the ranks to become the person she desired to be. Now, it is not about money or the pressure of getting something worthwhile to do. She had a clear target.