I remember as a young man, while sitting for an interview I was asked “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”. I was clearly stumped. I had never been asked that question and I had no answer.
The interviewer then let me know that I had ‘failed’ the interview because I didn’t have a long term vision. So once I reached home, I thought of a smart answer to the question “What do I see myself in 10 years time.”
Now the next time, I was asked that question, it was bit more stretched out. This time I was asked “What was my life time goal?” So given that I had prepared a 10-year goal answer, I decided I would stretch it to make it a 20 year or 30 year goal. And so I responded something like this:
“My goal in life is to be a CEO of a company, have 1 million USD in the bank, have some property, savings, and be the best in the industry I am working.”
I was happy with myself because I thought I gave a great answer.
However, the interviewer later on let me know, I had failed the interview once again.
So I wondered why? Why didn’t I get the job?
Wasn’t my answer good enough?
However, later on when I got a job offer, I stopped thinking about what the right answer to give for the question “What is your 10 year or 20 year or 30 year goal”. I just let it go.
Later on, in my 30’s when I got introduced to both my Master Mentors who were instrumental to my life — they would always ask me to invest for my future, save money for my future, think about the future, plan for the future — many things but all centered around ‘the future’.
When they would ask me what my goals were for the future or what I wanted to do for the future or even something as simple as saving for the future — I really didn’t have an answer or the interest to think, plan or start working towards the future.
And life just went on in that manner.
Then came the crash or rather my crash where I lost everything at the age of 35 and then had to rebuild my life from zero. But that was 6 years ago. Today I am 41.
In hindsight, when I look back, I know a couple of things:
- Had I saved money from the age of 20, but now I would have been a multi-millionaire by now.
- I could have migrated to Canada or Australia and been handed a citizenship by now
- I could have built a house for myself and had property to my name.
There are so many could have, would have, will have, may have…. so many possibilities. But here is my question to you “Do you know if you will live or die tomorrow?” Do you seriously know the answer to this?
One accident, one incident, one small unplanned event can not only change your life, it can completely turn your life around. And at its worst — destroy your life forever. In fact, when I look at the local online newspaper — almost every single day I witness yet another accident or death of someone due to driving. And you are talking about an island filled with only 62,500 people. A very small island but one that has 1 death or accident almost every single day. So frankly speaking, I do not know when my number will be up. In an instant — everything I have planned for, saving for, and aiming for — will just vanish into nothingness.
So what is the point of making plans so far ahead — 20 years or 30 years ahead — when I have no idea what will happen next week?
Now, I am not endorsing you to take your credit card, blow it all off, spend all your savings on a crazy holiday and live each and everyday so recklessly that within a few days, you will land on the streets.
I am not recommending living carelessly or recklessly.
Rather, I am inviting you to try something that I have personally adopted as my own personal philosophy.
I have a lifetime vision and purpose — which is always to be happy.
And if you are talking about something ‘materialistic’ it would be to have a small house for me and my wife and some savings where my wife and future kids — in case I die, can live on without having to land on the streets or having to beg from others.
However, I do not live every single day of my life brooding, planning and being obsessed about the next 30 years. I live each and everyday as it comes being happy. I keep a buffer for the next 30 days. And I keep a perspective of making it through the year. And that is how I live my life — taking one year at a time.
I seriously find it pointless, meaningless and useless to plan so far ahead — 30 years later when you do not know what will happen next week. I mean seriously — what sense does it make taking a 30 year loan for a house, working day and night to save money, and not just one job with 2 or 3 jobs, working endless hours — just to pay off the loan for a house that you purchased on credit. And one fine day, after losing your entire youth, your 20’s, your 30’s, your 40’s, and your 50’s and finally reaching into your 60’s — you finally pay off the loan. I mean seriously — is that what life is all about? Spending your ENTIRE LIFE just to pay money for a house??? For what? To die in it?
I would seriously prefer working less, enjoying every moment a bit more for the 1st 60 years of my life but having a rented house that I would rather die in than having to slog for 60 years just to be comfortable having a super luxurious house to die into.
Seriously — I mean what’s the point of all this ‘future-focused-planning’? And here is the bigger question — what if you die in between all that planning?
Once you are in your coffin which would be ready to be laid to rest 6 feet underground — what would you do with your fixed savings? Your millions in the bank? Your luxurious condo? Your future plans?
Every single day I wake up being fully aware that maybe, just maybe today would be the last day of my life. And I live accordingly. However, I also keep in mind there maybe a tomorrow, a next week, a next month and yes until the end of the year. And that is how I plan out my life. One day at a time. One month at a time. And yes — Just one year at a time. Nothing beyond that.
In fact, now whenever anyone comes to me for coaching and asks me “What should I answer if someone asks me what is your goal for 5 years or 10 years or what your life time vision” — I simply smile and tell them “Do you have any guarantees that you will live tomorrow?” When they say ‘No’, I then ask them, ‘So when you have no idea if you will live or die tomorrow, what is the point of planning 10 years in advance?’
In fact ask yourself this.
Go back 10 year or 20 years back in time.
Did anything in your life go as per plan?
Anything at all?
Then why in the world do you want to plan?
Funny right how we like to be so ‘future-focused’ but we have no idea if we can live through the day? Maybe that is why so many of us are so miserable, so incomplete and so unhappy. We live our lives for a future we cannot see, we prepare our children for a future we are not sure about and we take all the actions for a future we are uncertain about. And we do it while making ourselves miserable today.
Funny right…. how smart we all think we are, but in the end we are all still so stupid!
So what is your Long Term plan my friend?