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Most of us can barely make it through a day sometimes… so the thought of drawing up a ten year plan to prepare, implement and (hopefully) achieve may be just a little daunting. After all, none of us know where we will be in 10 years’ time. Do we?
Yet, creating a ten year plan is not nearly as impossible as you may believe, and you can learn how to create one and use it right here. Just bear with me.
Why Make a Ten Year Plan?
A ten year plan for your life is a document you create, where you hold yourself accountable for what happens to you, steer yourself in the right direction, and help yourself focus on what really matters. It is your roadmap to where you want to go, what you will need to get there, and how you will achieve your dreams and face your challenges.
You may not believe in ten year plans, yet. However, those in the know believe that ten year plans work. This is why most counselors, life coaches, and financial planners recommend drawing up such a plan. Even if you don’t stick to it religiously, a ten year plan gives you some guidance in your life and what you want to achieve.
Best of all, a ten year life plan is also an emergency plan. Having a ten year plan ready will not only remind you of what you want to achieve when you feel like you’ve lost focus, but it will guide you on what you can do when you feel lost. It’s a map that will guide you home… and get you back on track to living your best life.
Benefits of a Ten Year Plan
A ten year plan can offer the following benefits:
Ten Year Plans VS Long-Term Goals
You may be wondering what the difference is between ten year plans and long-term goals. Don’t they deal with the same thing—what you want to achieve? True, they do both feature your end goals, but a ten year plan has the map of how you will get to these goals… whereas a simple list of goals doesn't tell you how to get there.
A ten year plan uses SMART goals to help you achieve, succeed, and track progress. If you’ve never heard of SMART goals before, it is a business term that also applies to personal development. SMART is a clever acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timeous.
Applying the SMART paradigm to your ten year plan will help you set goals that are specific to who you are and what you want to achieve. After all, no two people are the same. SMART will also help you decide how to measure that goal.
If your goal is to become an Ivy League graduate, you need to set out how you will measure that goal’s success, such as getting an application form to an Ivy League school, getting the right grades or attending night school, and finally, passing the entrance exam.
You also need to consider whether the goal you want to add to your ten year plan is achievable and within your power to actualize. While you may have heard the famous quote that there’s nothing your mind can conceive that you can’t achieve, this is not always true.
There are some things that are simply not in our power to determine. Setting a goal of winning a million dollars in the lottery is not in your power to achieve. That goal is down to luck, making it a poor long-term goal.
This brings us to setting goals that are realistic. While you may wish you could marry Tom Cruise or Jennifer Lopez, these are not realistic or useful goals. However, setting a goal of meeting a good partner and working on a satisfying relationship is within your reach. Joining social clubs and taking up healthy hobbies where you can meet like-minded people is realistic and can help you achieve your goal.
Finally, your ten year plan should have a time limit on it. If you have all the time in the world, you simply won’t do anything. It will always get put off until tomorrow. Instead, focus on when you want to achieve something. This gives you the motivation to do it. Develop habits that help you do something every day toward achieving your goals, and habits will carry you when motivation dries up.
Ready to Create Your Ten Year Plan?
We don’t come with instruction manuals, and we certainly don’t have built-in ten year plans. Drawing up a ten year plan takes time, thought, and preparation. To prepare for your ten year plan, it is important to become more self-aware of all aspects of your life. What are your current parameters like?
Are you satisfied in your financial, emotional, spiritual, career, fitness, health, and social or family circles? These are all aspects of yourself, and they will construct the pillars of your ten year plan. Your preparation is to become aware of where and how you are at the moment.
This will be the departure point of your ten year plan. You will determine what you want to achieve, experience, be, or have in ten years’ time by asking yourself specific questions. Using a journal to record your answers will help you when it comes to finally completing the information contained in the ten year plan.
5 Steps to Creating Successful Ten Year Plans
Following these steps will guide you in creating the best ten year plan for you.
1. Goal Setting
Knowing where you want to be in ten years’ time is essential to setting out from where you are now. This means you need a future vision of yourself. Your future vision should also be divided according to the different aspects of your life. Here’s how:
2. Specify What You Want and Why
While you may have a general indication of what you want, such as wanting to be wealthy, you need to be specific to form an idea or wish into a goal. Using specifics, you can improve the value of a goal.
When a goal has no real value to you, it is unlikely that you will pursue that goal when there are obstacles or challenges. If you are stuck, since you may never have thought of goals before, you can use our guide on goals to pursue and customize these goals for your life.
Analyze whether your goals fit into these categories:
Next, add a reason why each goal matters to you. A goal without a reason is of little value and won’t help you reach a ten year plan.
3. Reverse Engineer Your Goals
You know what you ultimately want to achieve, now you need to step backward, see which step is just before that goal (perhaps you need to get finance for the business). Then, go further back to see what is before that step (getting a business plan together), and even further back (getting a diploma or degree in fashion designing or wedding planning).
Take each of your ultimate goals and break them right down into the components you need to achieve them.
Consider the skills, experience, finance, and support you will need for each goal. This is how you turn dreams into reality. Often, this is where people fall short. They get stuck in the dreaming phase, forget to do their planning, and end up doing nothing.
Now you need to question your goal, turn it upside down, look at it from all angles, and always look for more information to help you succeed. Questions you can ask yourself to really understand your goal and the steps to get there include:
4. Schedule Your Goal and the Steps to Get There
Now you know what you want to achieve with your ten year plan for your life, it’s time to schedule the steps. This is where accountability and motivation really come in.
Consider each step, realistically decide how long that step will take, and record when you will start with a step and when it will be finalized and concluded. This is also how you set a time limit to keep yourself on track.
Following the SMART paradigm, you can decide what you want to do (mini goals), then you decide how you will measure that goal’s success (perhaps you record your fundraising efforts to reach the amount you need to pay for your college degree or your first condo).
Be sure to check that what you need to do has sufficient time to let you do it. Don’t cut time short and fail as a result, because this will demotivate you. Make sure your goal to time ratio is achievable.
Keep your goal in mind and don’t get side-tracked by distractions that may be irrelevant to your ultimate goal. When you work to a timeframe, be sure to apply a “let’s use each second for something good” mentality.
5. Use a Ten Year Plan Template to Help You Plan, Track, and Develop Your Goals
Your life is a bit like a business, and you need to have some paperwork so you can keep yourself honest. This is the trail that lets you track yourself, your success, how you deal with failures, and what has previously helped you succeed.
Keeping a ten year plan in writing can be a great motivator, and it can be revised as much as is needed (as long as you keep to the time frame so you don’t push things to the back burner). A ten year plan is a living document.
With each of the following templates, be sure to customize them to suit your unique needs, expand on them with to-do lists, and develop the goals you seek with journaling, affirmations, and mantras.
Check out these great printable ten year plan templates:
10 Year Life Plan Template
This template is available in editable format for Word, GoogleDocs, and in PDF. Print and complete the document, updating it to track your progress, plan for eventualities, and develop the plan as you work at your goals.
10 Year Goal Worksheet/Plan
Download this easy to complete life plan, and customize it to your needs. The “mastery section” would be where you can add the mini-goals required as well as the skills you need to learn to achieve your goal. Complete this plan and revise weekly or monthly.
Tomillama Life Plan Action Focused Life Plan
While this is not specifically a ten year plan, it can be completed in sets of ten, giving you real scope to plan your goals, break down the actions required for each step, and reach your full potential. Get it via email here.
Final Thoughts on Creating a Ten Year Plan
If you want to live life to your full potential, you need to have a plan to guide you, keep you on track and help you when you get stuck. It’s so easy to get distracted or deterred when life throws curveballs your way… but a ten year plan can help you avoid being hit with self-doubt and indecision.
Ten year plans can be as complex as life is… with different sections to record skills, resources, goals, mini-goals and steps to take now. But they don’t have to be. They can be simple to start, thanks to tools such as the spider diagram and vision board. Vision boards are visual aids to help encourage you to manifest your goals and dreams. Check out our Ultimate 6-Step Guide to Making Your Own Vision Boards today for tips on getting started.