A Better Question to Ask Yourself to Determine Your Long-Term Goals

Advice from Jeff Bezos, the Blue Zones, and Long-Term Plans

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash
  • Are customers ever going to want their goods slower? No way.
  • Do customers want a smaller selection and variety of goods to buy? Hell no.

Family/relationships

I have grouped these into one category. You could have a partner and kids. You could have great relationships with your Mom, Dad, siblings, cousins, etc. You could have close friends. Whatever the case, those relationships are important now, and will be important later. For me, I cannot imagine a world where I’m living alone and have no relationships.

  • Give your family a good death. Scott Galloway wrote about how, when his Mom was diagnosed with stomach cancer, he spent almost all of his time with her, watching TV shows, talking about his family, browsing through old family photos, and hearing her stories.
  • Find things you can do with your partner. From my experience as a couple, I have different interests than my partner. But just because we have different interests does not mean we can’t find things to do together that we both like. Movies. Paint nights. Sports. Board games. The list is endless. It’s a matter of trying out new things and landing on something that works for both of you.

Your health

10, 20, even 50 years later, your health will matter. Your health will determine how much ‘life’ you get out of your life. Without your health, you may be stuck at home or in the hospital living out the rest of your life needing medical care. With your health, you can get out there, be mobile, and enjoy life.

  • Be active when attending company webinars/talks. Since we are all remote, any time there’s a company webinar or talk from the CEO, I watch the video on my phone and turn on my treadmill so that I’m watching and walking at the same time. It’s better than sitting at my desk and passively paying attention to the talk at the same time while working.
  • Build exercise into your daily life. If you have to turn on your TV, walk to the TV to turn it on. If you need your charger, grab the one by your bedside so that it forces you to walk to your bedroom. Pets, like dogs, are a simple way to get more exercise because you have to walk your dog every day.

Having a sense of purpose (ikigai)

Ikigai is the Japanese word and translates into ‘sense of purpose’. A classic experiment shows that elderly nursing home residents live longer when given a plant to care for.

  • When you were young, what did you love to do? You might say playing with Lego or playing video games. These aren’t purposes, but they may hint at a purpose. For example, playing with Lego might mean you were meant to design or architect structures. Or that you like to piece together small components together (could be components of a strategy, could be different people together into a cohesive team, could be coaching kids on a sports team).
  • What do you spend a lot of money or time on? Examine your credit card statement over the course of a few months. What do you spend a lot of money on, aside from the usual commitments — rent, food, car payments, insurance, etc. Do you spend a lot of money on books? Video games? Nutritional supplements? Loose leaf tea?

Final thoughts

One way to think about your long-term goals is to think about what could change. Your money situation would be different. Where you live and work could be different. If you spend a lot of time and money, immersing yourself in your town, but then end up in a different town a decade from now, you likely aren’t going to feel good about yourself. So instead of focusing on the change, focus instead on what will not change. Specifically:

  • Your health
  • Having a sense of purpose

Author of Essential Habits. Inspiring others to live better and happier lives through better habits, work and career advice, and mindset changes. www.wangyip.ca

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