Why Create a 10 Year Plan?
Think of a goal as your ultimate destination. Objectives are the paths you need to take to arrive at that goal. We will go into more detail about goals and objectives for creating your ‘My Ten Year Plan’ guide shortly, but in the meantime pretend you are driving to a theme park in the next state. You’ve never been there before. How will you get there? Without a map, or a GPS unit, you might end up on the wrong side of the state.
Your goal: The theme park. The way you get there: Follow a map or set of directions.
Creating a ten year plan is much like following a map. Your ultimate goal at the end of the ten years is your destination. This might be a personal goal: Lose one hundred pounds. This might be a financial goal: Have enough money in savings to retire without worry. This might be a business goal: Expand to ten new locations in the south.
In this article we’ll look at how you can create a guide called ‘My 10 Year Plan’, which will help you get from where you are right now to where you want to be in ten years.
My 10 Year Plan: Success is in the Planning
Just like that theme park vacation mentioned above, success is in the planning. Because ten years seems so far away, some people feel creating a ten year plan is futile. Things change. Situations change. People change. How can you make a “My 10 Year Plan” guide when there are so many fluctuating variables in life?
This is, on some level, true. You may think you want to be in one place ten years from today and learn, along the journey, you really want to be somewhere else. That’s okay. (See the section on Adjusting Your Ten Year Goal.)
On the other hand, you may know exactly where you want to be right now, and in order to get there you will need to plan. You don’t become a doctor or lawyer or head of a construction company by simply thinking you want to do that one day. You become successful in your career because you plan ahead and complete certain tasks for getting there, even if you don’t consciously think about this along the way.
A ten year plan will help you set goals, define what you hope to accomplish, and give you a road path to getting from where you are today to where you want to be in ten years.
What are Goals and Objectives?
First, let’s talk about goals and objectives. These two words are often interchanged but they mean different things. Each is critically important in a ten year plan.
Goals are long term.
Objectives are short term.
Objectives are (mostly) measurable and very specific.
Objectives are like stepping stones used to reach your main goal.
A nice visual to have in your mind about goals and objectives is that of a set of stairs. The landing at the top is your main goal, or the destination you want to reach in ten years. The stairs leading up to the main landing are your objectives, or the things you must do in order to stand on the landing. To get to the main goal, you will need to tackle each step.
What is a Goal?
For your ten year plan, consider the main target you want to accomplish when the ten years is complete. Remember that ten years is a long time, so it may, at this point in your life, seem impossible to attain. (That’s why you are creating ‘My Ten Year Plan!’)
For instance, maybe you are currently interested in attending cosmetology school. In ten years you want to own a salon. While it may seem unachievable now, when you write objectives you will see you can get there by taking smaller steps.
Other ideas of goals:
Participate in ten full marathons.
Work as a pediatrician at the local children’s hospital.
Open an Italian restaurant.
What is an Objective?
The objectives are those small steps you will take over the course of the next ten years to attain your ten year plan. (Think back to the visual!)
Let’s look at the example of owning a hair salon. If this is your main goal, your objectives might include:
Attend cosmetology school Become a licensed cosmetologist Work in a salon for at least five years Attend courses at the local college in business leadership and management Save enough money to cover fees associated with opening a business
A Few Examples of a Ten Year Goal and Objectives to Meet That Goal
Goal #1: Lose 100 pounds.
Objectives to Meet that Goal:
- Start a walking program with the group at your office that meets after work.
- Eliminate sweets from diet all but one night of the week.
- Complete a 5K by the end of year #3.
- Participate in at least one yoga class per week by end of year #5.
Goal #2: Become an elementary school principal.
Objectives to Meet that Goal:
- Take a job as an elementary education teacher the summer after graduation.
- Teach elementary education or several years.
- While teaching, return to school for a Masters degree in Educational Leadership.
- Take a job as an Assistant Principal by year six.
With the above information in mind, and a clear understanding of the difference between a main goal and multiple objectives used to attain that goal, it is now time to create your own ten year plan. (You’re excited, aren’t you?!)
Identifying a Goal for ‘My 10 Year Plan’
If you are setting a personal goal, you might be looking at goals based on your current career (you would like to move into a leadership position); goals that focus on your health (you would like to gain control of your diabetes); or even goals that focus on personal relationships (you would like to have better control over your anger).
The first step in creating your 10 Step Plan is, of course, to create your long term goal.
To narrow a long term goal down, create a goal journal. For the next few days, make a list of all the goals you can think of that you might like to attain. These may be shorter term (change jobs) or they may be longer term. You may likely see a pattern that leads to a main long term goal. Look for a theme. Do they mostly pertain to health? Career? Choose one that seems to reoccur.
Create at Least Two Objectives for Each of the Next Ten Years
Once your goal has been established, you need to create objectives to master that goal. These objectives should be specific steps you will take to attain your main goal.
Go through your journal once more. Note the smaller goals you listed and how they might correlate to your overall goal. For example, your overall ten year goal might be related to health. You might have listed shorter things like stop smoking, take up an exercise program, learn to meditate and go for yearly skin check-ups and physicals as ideas. You can use these as your objectives to meet your main goal of better health.
Try to list two objectives for each year. This will help you stay on track to meet your ultimate goal.
Creative Ideas for Remaining on Track with ‘My 10 Year Plan’
It’s easy to stray from our goal paths. This is especially true if we are at the beginning of our ten year plan and the end seems so far away. Here are a few creative ideas for remaining on track:
Create a ‘My Ten Year Plan’ Vision Board. Use poster paper or a frame with matting. List your goal at the top. Use pictures to identify various objectives. Place this board where you can see it every day so you are reminded of your main goal and what you need to do to get there.
Use rewards. Making positive changes can be difficult. Reward yourself! If you meet your first objective of losing ten pounds, buy a new shirt. If you meet your objective of graduation from your program, take yourself to a nice hotel for a mini-vacation. Celebrate the victories that lead you to the ultimate goal.
Create a ‘Winner’s Scrapbook’ that shows your progress! Take pictures of accomplishing the objectives you’ve set. Write letters. Place a copy of your goal and objectives in the front and check off each objective you master as you head toward your goal. Visual reminders are a great way to feel proud of what you have mastered while staying on track.
Adjusting Your Ten Year Plan
We like to imagine that things will go smoothly and all the cards will fall into place, but as we know, life rarely happens this way. What can you do when something gets in the way of your ten year plan?
First, breathe. While it is important to have goals and set objectives to meet those goals, it is also important to remember that the key to having a happy life is to make changes to plans when needed. Along the way learn simple breathing techniques, yoga poses or meditation tips that can help reduce stress.
Secondly, make adjustments to objectives if necessary. People fear making changes to objectives when life throws a curve ball, but this is something that might need to be done. If you are still hoping to attain your main goal but something has changed, alter your objectives.
Thirdly, at times it may be necessary to reconsider your main goal. Let’s say you wrote your ten year plan as a single woman ready to graduate from college. Your goal: Travel the world and write. Then you met the man of your dreams, got married and had children. Your new goal may be to do travel writing for a local publication, or start your own travel magazine.
One Last Thought
While ten years may seem a long way off, think back ten years. It doesn’t seem like that much time has gone by, right? If all goes well, ten years will be here before you know it. Creating a ‘My 10 Year Plan’ guide will help you be where you want to be when it arrives, and it will set you up for multiple accomplishments along the way. Now, where do you want to be in ten years.