It’s tough when you don’t know what the future will hold. But setting yourself clear goals and visualizing what the next ten, twenty, or even fifty years will look like can make an unknown future less scary.
Taking the time to think clearly about what you want, why, and how to get there can help give your life direction and push you into thinking about the big picture.
Define Your Goals
First things first, you need to think clearly and rationally about what you want. Try to set yourself specific rather than vague goals. For example, instead of simply writing that you want to ‘be happy,’ try to think about concrete goals you can work towards that would help make you happy. That could be traveling extensively, having a family, or starting your dream career.
Start with all your significant goals, and then fill in all the smaller goals to help you get there. For example, before buying a house, you need to decide where to live, set yourself a budget, save x amount of money. Then you can fill in year by year what steps you want to take to achieve these smaller objectives instead of facing your ultimate goal head-on. Before you know it, you’ll have completed more than you thought without it seeming so overwhelming.
Create a Vision for the Future
If even big goals seem elusive to you, try picturing yourself in five years. Where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? Then, slowly let yourself fill in the details of what you want your life to look like and work yourself up to ten, fifteen, even fifty years.
If at any point what you’re picturing for your future doesn’t make you happy and fulfill you, then change it. This is your opportunity to try and mold your future into what you’d like to look like before you get caught up in the direction your life is going with no control.
Even if you are pretty sure of where you’d like to be, visualizing your future can be a beneficial tool to make your next steps less daunting. It can also help motivate you in achieving your goals, as you’ve already planned and visualized what you’re doing next.
Small details can be especially helpful if you’re feeling overwhelmed. For example, what kind of animals would you like to own? What color would you like your picture to be? Even less happy considerations like whether you’d like urns for two people for you and your partner can help the future seem more in control.
Make Sure to be Flexible
Don’t beat yourself up if you fail to achieve a yearly goal. Life can be unpredictable, and there’s no use focusing on what you weren’t able to do. If you need to stretch your plan for another year or two, don’t worry; it’s all about steadily working towards your future life.
Similarly, although detailed goals and visualization can be a helpful tool, don’t get too focussed on a specific kind of future. You don’t know what will get thrown your way, and you need to be flexible with where life takes you. If you’re ever feeling lost and like too much has changed, it’s never too late to revisualise where you’d like to be and rewrite your goals. Then you can approach working towards your future with renewed vigor.
Your future may not go exactly where you had planned it to, but with goals to work towards and visualizing your ideal life, you can keep some control and move forward in life rather than standing still. So celebrate your small successes, and make sure to appreciate where you are now, as well as where you’re going.
What are your short-term goals for the next year? Feel free to share with us below.