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the good life in a digital age

long view planning

A lot of goal setting articles include the assertation that “you overestimate what you can do in a day but underestimate what you can do in a year”.

A similar quote is attributed to Bill Gates:

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.”

via The quotable Bill Gates | Developer World – InfoWorld.

There’s a long view planning technique based on these concepts. It asks you to “Describe your life in the future”:

  • 50 years from now
  • 25 years from now
  • 10 years from now
  • 5 years from now
  • 1 year from now

I write the descriptions as  prose but I’ve seen this done in a more structured tabular way so that the same topics are covered each time.

50 years is so much time, it makes most things seem achievable. In fact when I’ve done this I usually find I can’t imagine much difference between 25 years and 50 years, as I usually assume I can get my goals sorted in 25 years. 50 years takes me to 82 but my life expectancy is longer than that even without taking scientific/medical advances into account.

Of course, the time points are completely arbitrary, so long as the final point is sufficiently far in the future.

It’s a good activity for planning and prioritising the meaningful stuff, and for when you need an optimism boost. It’s also  useful for “future now” activities. It challenges you to think about making 1 year look a lot more like 50 years.

A slightly uncomfortable but sometime useful variation is to include 100 years time, or after you are dead! How will you die, what will you be remembered for and by who, and what impact will you leave behind?

Written by Karen

February 17th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Posted in career,future,happiness