I’ve had a few interesting discussions with some people who make verbal plans for the next 10 years and yet act as though the world will end in 2019. I say this because it’s been puzzling to me how someone can talk about life after paid employment and yet hasn’t even considered making plans for retirement. Or when someone talks about living long and yet does nothing to improve their health today.
I’ve come to realise that if there’s a specific outcome you want in life, you have to plan and prepare for it – it won’t just suddenly happen by magic. You need to start thinking long term and prepare yourself for the years to come.
How do you this? I have a few suggestions which are by no means exhaustive.
- Give yourself 21 days: There’s an anecdotal rule that if you want to turn something into a habit, you should do it consistently for 21 days. Truthfully there’s nothing special about 21 days specifically, but the belief is that within that period, whatever you’re doing should become ingrained in you as part of your daily routine. Do you want to get fit? Then take up a form of exercise daily for 21 days. Do you want to change your diet? Focus on eating healthy for at least 21 days. What about reading more? Choose a book to read and read at least a chapter a day for 21 days.
- Keep your mind fresh: Your mind is an amazing ‘machine’ designed to keep learning and adapting to its environment. Even though it’s not a muscle, you have to actively engage your mind and you either use it or slowly lose it. Also what you fill your mind with makes a huge difference to how you see and interact with the world and your ability to take maximum advantage of what you have around you. The beauty of the mind is that unlike the body, you can exercise your mind literally anywhere with simple things like reading a work of non-fiction, doing word/number puzzles or giving yourself things to memorize. All these little things add up in keeping your mind active and fresh.
- Make Time your ally: It could be incredibly frustrating to realise 5-10 years have passed and you haven’t moved forward on most of the things you planned to do. If you’d like to avoid that frustration, then I strongly suggest you consciously make time your best friend. Take the time to think through and create your visual of what you’d like to be/do/have in 10 years’ time and start working backwards. Develop specific action items with timelines and start working them. If for example, you’d like to retire from paid employment in 10 years, now would be the time to start putting in place and testing your business ideas. You shouldn’t wait until you exit your job before you start executing your plan(s).
- Kick fear out: I read somewhere that the greatest regret of aged people is the things they never did. Most times we don’t venture out and try new things because of fear of failure. But the truth is, the only thing you’re guaranteed if you don’t try something new is that nothing in your life will change. Don’t take silly and unnecessary risks but challenge yourself to experiment – change your hairstyle, route to work, start a small-scale business. Challenge yourself to do at least one new thing every month.
- Don’t neglect your spirit: A lot more goes on inside of us than we may realise or appreciate so it’s important to also take some time daily to nourish your spiritual well-being. When you wake up in the morning, don’t immediately reach for your phone or jump out of bed. Spend a couple of minutes meditating and tuning yourself to having a positive day and spend some time in prayer. It has a unique way of insulating you from the pressures of the day and daily practice over time is truly beneficial.