My 10 Year Plan: How to Create a Good Plan for the Future
Does a 10 year plan seem overwhelming? Not sure you can stick to a long-term plan? Check out these science-based strategies for setting and reaching meaningful goals in a 10 year period.
*This page may include affiliate links; that means I earn from qualifying purchases of products.
What Is a 10 Year Plan?
Here we'll define a 10 year plan as the details and map that enable us to reach our long-term—or 10-year long—goals. A 10 year plan could include many things, but people often confuse a 10 year plan with long-term goals that they'd like to have accomplished over a 10 year period. But goals and plans are two very different things. If we make a list of goals we'd like to have accomplished in 10 years, then those are 10 year goals. But if map out and determine how we'll get from where we are now to where we'd like to be in 10 years, that's a 10 year plan.
10 Year Goals vs 10 Year Plans
There are lots of good reasons to set 10 years goals. They help us better understand what we want, where we are going, and how we might get there. Most importantly for this article, they also help us determine the endpoint of our 10 year plan.
We might set life goals related to career, money, relationships, lifestyle, and more. Having some idea of what we'd like to achieve for each of these life domains in a 10 year period is the first step. So, to make a 10 year plan, start by setting SMART goals. SMART goals are a particular type of goals that are easier to achieve because they include some key characteristics (Lawlor, 2012). SMART goals are Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Realistic, and Trackable. Let's talk a bit more about how to set goals that meet these criteria.
Setting SMART Goals for Your 10 Year Plan
Let's start with the 'M' in SMART because if your goals are not meaningful, then you won’t stick to them. When I say, "set meaningful goals", I'm not saying that you can't change your mind later on about the goal and pursue something else. I just want to encourage you to set goals starting from a desire for meaning rather than a desire for an outcome. By making this mental shift, you'll set goals that are a better fit for you and therefore are easier to achieve.
Set values-based goals
So how do we set goals that are meaningful to us? We start by from our values. If you need help identifying your values, check out this article on personal values.
Let's say you value Love, Adventure, and Respect. Ask yourself, what goals do you have that let you live those values. Perhaps you want to live your value of love by having a child. You may want to live your value of adventure by traveling to a foreign country. And you want to live your value of respect by moving up the career ladder at work. These are all goals that are consistent with values and good choices for a 10-year plan.
On the other side, let’s say you have a value of generosity and equality, yet you have set a goal to make a million dollars. Unless you can find a way to make this goal consistent with your values, it might be tough to stick to it. There will always be a part of you that is striving for something that isn't really you. In this example, a resolution might be to revise your goal to be: donating 100k to charity. That way, you're working toward earning a million dollars to live a value you find meaningful.
Set lifestyle-based goals
Once you have a sense of how your values contribute to your goals, think about the kind of lifestyle you want in 10 years. Ask yourself the following questions:
By asking yourself these questions, you can further clarify goals that are meaningful to you.
Set specific goals
Lastly, be sure that these meaningful goals are specific. What, exactly, will your values and lifestyle-based goals be? Once you have at least one goal to work with, you can start your 10-year plan.
Mapping Out Your 10 Year Plan
Hopefully, you have a goal or two that are meaningful to you. Now let's break them down into smaller, specific, achievable, realistic, and trackable pieces. I'm going to use my 10 year plan as an example so you can see exactly how I went from a giant, seemingly impossible goal into small bite size steps that I diligently work through one day at a time.
My 10 Year Plan: An Example
I'm generally good with small goals, but I often end up feeling after achieving these short-term goals. It's been a really good exercise for me to think to 10 years into the future. As an example, here is my main 10 year goal and 10 year plan.
10 year goals
10 year plan
Your 10 year Plan
Now, I'd like you to try to map out some of the steps in your 10 year plan. See if you can fill in the sections below on your own piece of paper.
Your 10 year goals
10 year plan
Video: More Tips on Making a 10 Year Plan
Creating a 10-year plan can take some time and effort, but it's worth thinking through what you want and how to get there because it'll make it more likely that you actually do get there.