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Focus Challenge Day 2: Your Ideal Future

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For Challenge Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of the 5-day Focus Challenge. If you haven’t yet, make sure to complete Day 1 before attempting today’s challenge. Today’s challenge is all about identifying your ideal future so you can start making progress towards creating it.

Let’s get started.

“I hate my job.”

No, I didn’t say that. I actually LOVE my job (it’s incredibly rewarding helping people take massive action on their goals and achieve the future they’ve always dreamed of). But based on a 2014 Gallup poll, it is true for the majority of Americans. According to Gallup, 70% of Americans think their job sucks.

And chances are it’s not just their job that sucks. Chances are, they are also unhappy about their relationships, their living environment, or the fact that they don’t work out as often as they should.

Many of them are stuck in a vicious cycle of negativity and they feel like they can’t escape it. Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there right now. I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I do know one thing:

You have the power and the potential to change.

And all you need to do is change where you’re going.

I recently attended a conference where one of the speakers encouraged the attendees (all business people looking to take their companies to the next level) to “escape the cycle of suck” and dare to dream of a different future.

Today, I give you the same advice – choose today to “escape the cycle of suck.” Fortunately, it’s not that difficult – all you need to do to change your path. If you don’t like where you are, stop doing what you’ve always done! And the way that you do this is by choosing not to look at your past. Instead, look to your ideal future.

Identifying your ideal future is extremely important. You will never achieve success by accident. You must identify where you are going before you figure out how you’re going to get there. The picture of your ideal future is the signpost you use to make sure that you are moving in the right direction.

Much like a tree in a corn maze.

Navigating the corn maze of life

Every fall, I take my family to a nearby farm. It’s become a tradition for us. My kids love to visit the farm, climb on the hay bails, feed the animals, ride the tractor, and my wife and I love the apple pies. But our favorite things to do there is the corn maze (I know, it’s a total midwest thing).

Corn maze

Last fall when we made our annual visit, I went through the corn maze with my 8 year old son. Because we went during the week, the farm was pretty much empty and we were the only ones going through the maze at that time. So as we were navigating the maze, it struck me how quiet it was and how scary this same experience might be to an 8-year old if they didn’t have their father right there with them. Think about it – to an 8 year old, the corn maze is enormous. Not only does it span several acres, but because the corn goes over your head you literally can’t see the end of it – nothing but corn as far as your little eyes can see.

As we navigated the corn maze together, we came to an elevated platform in the middle of the maze. When you walk up the stairs to the platform, you’re able to see the entire corn maze at once. This helps you get your bearings and decide where you should go. From up here, you can see several details you miss while in the maze: where you started, how far you’ve come, the overall size of the maze, and most importantly, the location of the exit.

Once you find the exit, you can then find a marker – like a big tree near the exit – that you can use while navigating from within the corn maze. This tree can serve as a focal point to make sure you are going the right way. Even though you can’t see the exit, as long as you’re moving towards your focal point (the tree) you can be sure you are moving in the right direction.
The picture of your ideal future will provide the motivation to stick with it when things don’t go exactly like you want.

That’s exactly what the picture of your ideal future does.

We all have reasons to be unsatisfied with where we are right now. But if all you do is complain about your current situation, you’ll never be able to get out of the corn maze. You have to find a marker and start moving towards it. You must choose to escape the cycle of suck and start moving towards the future that you’ve always dreamed of before you can ever achieve it.

Those who do not think about the future cannot have one. – Michael Kami

So today, choose to focus on where you’re going, not where you’ve been. Abraham Lincoln once said that the best part about the future is that it arrives one day at a time. Your future begins today, but first you must choose to be intentional about where you are going and crate a mental image of your ideal future.


Spend at least 10 minutes today thinking about your ideal future. Picture yourself in 5 years, 10 years, even 20 years – what does a day in the life of future you look like? What would it look like if you were wildly successful? Here are some important details to consider:

  • What time do you get up in the morning?
  • What do you during the day?
  • What kind of job do you have?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • What do you do for exercise?
  • Where do you live?
  • Who are the important people in your life that are there with you?
  • What kind of car do you drive?
  • What is your relationship with your significant other like?
  • What is your relationship with your kids (if you have any) like?

Once you know what kind of future you want, WRITE IT DOWN! You could either use words or pictures if you prefer, but be as specific as possible. The more specific you are about your ideal future, the stronger the image gets imprinted in your mind and the stronger your “why” becomes. This will become very important in helping you follow through and take action to achieve your ideal future, even when you don’t feel like it.

Once you’re done, let us know in the comments. If you are using a picture, feel free to share it (you can use a Dropbox link or Pasteboard)!

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Posted by Karusha  | November 12, 2017 at 1:31PM | Reply

I have not been stuck in a whirlpool of funk recently but I loved this exercise. I have been working far too long hours and I want to change. Doing this exercise has got me thinking about whether that will be to reduce my time spent at work in the future or if I will continue to work like a maniac in the future.
Knowing that I WANT to spend more time with my family is shaping the way in which I approach the next steps in my career.

Posted by Joshua Feierman  | November 10, 2017 at 9:41PM | Reply

Finishing this a little late, it’s been a heckuva week (no excuses though). The most interesting part about this was that, looking closely, I’m actually not that far off from where I want to be. A few key habits and routines, and I might be most of the way there.

Posted by David  | November 10, 2017 at 2:09AM | Reply

This is avery interesting exercise that I do regularly. In ten years time, the start of my day would look the same as it does now. I already get up at 5am each day, have a coffee and then on week days cycle 30 min to work where I work perform 30min of strength training, than get ready to start my working day at 6.30am. I find the time cycling to be perfect for deep thinking about one task I’ve given myself to think about as I cycle.
I will still be a professor, working on my most important research project as I begin each day.

For fun I will play golf and will be off scratch. I will continue to play tennis at least three times each week. I will live in a small house that is located within a 30-min cycle ride on cycle paths from my office. My house will contain a quiet study where I can listen to music when not working. I will live there with my loving wife, with rooms for my children to use when they visit.

I will rarely have use for a car, and will cycle as much as possible. The car I do have will be the most minimalist possible, at least ten years old, but with room to transport my golf clubs.

Posted by Steve  | November 9, 2017 at 4:21PM | Reply

This was a really interesting exercise. I went for a 10 year time horizon. Many things in my life are still the same (which shows that I have a lot of things that I want in place), but there are some key areas (my job, my financial situation and my relationship with my wife and kids) which I need grow/develop – and hopefully improve. The areas where I want to make changes I guess are those areas which I need to build my goals around.

Posted by Andres Acosta  | November 9, 2017 at 2:15PM | Reply

At the beginning, it was hard to been specific. But as you keep on the process, details just como to your mind like flashes. It is a good exercise to be able to really picture your self in the future.

Posted by Anton  | November 9, 2017 at 8:29AM | Reply

What time do you get up in the morning?
I get up around 7am, do 15 minutes meditation, then go for a walk/run on the beach with my dog for at least 30 minutes.
What do you during the day?
I come back and have a great healthy breakfast, then spend time on business up to 1pm. Have a short lunch, then get stuck in my hobbies. Painting, writing, studying physics, studying astronomy up to 5pm. That’s when I go for a game of tennis. At night I watch TV and just relax.
What kind of job do you have?
I work from home on a variety of distance – projects via the Internet. Doing consultation, online teaching, and writing books. I am self-employed. I may be running an online business as well.
What do you do for fun?
Reading, walking on the beach, playing tennis, making nice food, travelling overseas once in a while.
What do you do for exercise?
Walking, hitting punch bag, playing tennis.
Where do you live?
Sunshine Coast
Who are the important people in your life that are there with you?
Mommy (wife), Hendrik and Chris.
What kind of car do you drive?
Ford Mustang V8
What is your relationship with your animals?
I have as many pets as possible. Cats and dogs.

Posted by Ashwinee Pirangute  | November 9, 2017 at 6:23AM | Reply

Hi team,

Sorry for joining little late.
My goal for the next five years is do regular exercise, be positive and own a house.

Apart from this I would like to inculcate the habit of continuous learning within me. Because after completing my post graduation, I started working and got busy in my work schedule and other not urgent not so important things that, today when I am on sabbatical leave I realise I was stuck in a very very limited area and I do not have sense of achievement at all. I am not satisfied. And this experience taught me where I was going and what all wrong things I have done. I have learned a lot from this experience and trying to have a better life by keeping myself positive and learning few things.

My short term goal is to brush up my knowledge as well as gain new skills. Get a good job. Accommodate myself for other important but not urgent matters on regular basis. Have a focused life and go getter attitude. There’s a lot more to do in my life.

I really thank Asian Efficiency for having such exercises and request them to have it on frequent intervals.

Thanks and regards,

Posted by Amratansh  | November 9, 2017 at 3:06AM | Reply

Just finished doing this and I must say it was really challenging for me.

I have been always one of those persons who would not think of an ideal future simply because of the complexities involved and the disruptions possible. But by not envisioning my future, I now realise that I had always robbed myself of my anchor, my guide.

Now that I have completed it, I feel a lot better.

I have written out my ideal life.

Thanks a lot for this challenge

Posted by Margaretha  | November 9, 2017 at 2:22AM | Reply

I “freewrote” the things that came into my head when I think about the things I am passionate about. It is a kind of a dump list and I know there is one task that I need to do to move forward.
My wrote the list in my journal so I am reminded about what it is that I want.

Posted by Mark  | November 8, 2017 at 11:21PM | Reply

been working this topic a lot recently, this is a great exercise

Posted by George  | November 8, 2017 at 10:31PM | Reply

Done! I have the same job, and same life, but things are just a little bit better!

Posted by Bob  | November 8, 2017 at 8:22PM | Reply

Done! Playing catch up on day 3….

Knowing what I want from life and finding motivation has been a struggle for me lately. I believe this excersise is just what I needed. Now with with my ideal life documented I can start on making plans to fill the gaps and give myself something to get excited about.

Posted by Ashish  | November 8, 2017 at 6:36PM | Reply

Completing this task was so difficult yet rewarding:)

Posted by Ashish  | November 8, 2017 at 6:36PM | Reply

DANG SO HARD! Completing this task was so difficult yet rewarding:)

Posted by Shashank  | November 8, 2017 at 6:20PM | Reply

Sorry everyone for late update.. here is my vision for life in next 3 years…

Posted by Jon  | November 8, 2017 at 6:19PM | Reply

I refreshed the vision I wrote the last time, and had revised once since then. I need to make a digital vision board that I can use as a background for my iPad and MacBook. I think that’d be the best place to put it, for a simple, frequent reminder.

Posted by Nils  | November 8, 2017 at 4:42PM | Reply

Wow, tough one at the beginning!
Not that easy to be that specific, you don’t usually do that when thinking about the future. But I’m sure this is the way to go!
Thank you for the inspiration!!

Kind regards

Posted by Steven  | November 8, 2017 at 4:36PM | Reply

I wrote this out and really helps you see what you should cut out or start doing in your life to be more productive towards that ideal future.

Posted by Simon  | November 8, 2017 at 2:53PM | Reply

Doing this task has made me realise I’m closer to my wishes than I realised. Still a long way to go though. Not a car fanatic, but would quite like one of those new Volvo XC90 SUV. Not the usual car for a mid-life crisis!!

Posted by Srilekha Nuli  | November 8, 2017 at 2:42PM | Reply

It feels odd to me to look out 10 and 20 years in the future, as I haven’t even lived 20 years yet!

If I were “wildly successful”:

I think the most important thing for me would be to have a career where I feel like I am comfident and competent, adn where I am using my own unique skills to make the lives and experiences of others better (especially if it has to do with optimizing mental health and productivity through data).

I would make enough money where I could live comfortably and have enough extra funds to not have to worry about money while still engaging in the activities I enjoy.

I would wake up early and get up immediately (getting up is what gives me the most trouble!). I’d exercise early in the day so I wouldn’t have to worry about it later, and then eat breakfast (which I would have planned out the night before) and start on the first of my MITs.

The place in which I live wouldn’t be too large and it would be simple, but I would be confident that the things that I would use daily would work reliably, and I would know I had the funds to replace them/fix them even if they did break.

I wouldn’t need a ton of friends, but I would be confident that the close friends that I did have would be both frank and supportive of me, and I would do the same for them.

Hopefully one of the ways that we’d have fun would be by learning new skills together and traveling together.

Even if my friends and family weren’t close to me, I would have the funds and freedom to be able to visit them or have them visit me as often as we wanted.

Although I enjoy driving, I don’t think I’d want to drive a car (regularly anyways). I’m hoping that I would live in a city (although I’m not sure which one), and I feel like walking and/or biking would be better for my fitness and state of mind.

I’m really glad that I’m starting to think about this now instead of in 5 or 10 years. It gives me a lot to look forward to. :)

Posted by Kristen Smith  | November 8, 2017 at 2:39PM | Reply

I’m a little late here due to yesterday being Election Day—the busiest day of the year for my organization!

Anyway, I really enjoyed this exercise. The biggest thing I want in the next five years is the ability to actually settle down and buy a house. My husband and I have moved a ton over the past few years, and he’s now in grad school, meaning we have at least another year and a half before that’ll happen.

I don’t have a picture handy, but I’d envision a future where I could take on more responsibility with my job (though not more time, hopefully), spend quality time with my husband and kid (or maybe kids, plural, by then), welcome others into our home often, and have an active role in my local community.

Posted by Janeson  | November 8, 2017 at 2:11PM | Reply

It took me a lot longer than 10 minutes to do this (so long that I forgot to leave a comment afterward!), but it was well worth doing. My goals have more to do with thinking and acting more positively than accomplishing projects, but how I think affects everything else. Positive is good :-)

Posted by Katie Alexander  | November 8, 2017 at 1:40PM | Reply

What a terrific exercise! So enjoyed thinking deeply about my ideal future…

Posted by Whitney Elize  | November 8, 2017 at 1:23PM | Reply

Such a great focus exercise! I really was able to take 10 minutes for myself and my ideal future.

I recently told my current job, which I love, that I felt like wasn’t pushing myself anymore to learn and craved more education.

I am now in the midst of applying to grad school.

In my ideal future, I get up naturally with the day(always been an early riser so no change there).

I have a job in a math field with either personal clients or one small company.
I travel for work, speak at conferences about my professional background and encourage others to enter the same field, making it sound less dry than perceived.

For fun , I fly to new places for small adventures.

For exercise, I go to different dance classes, depending on whether i’m feeling more jazz or contemporary.

I live in the UK in the city where public transit is always accessible. i’m big into train travel.

i have a small group of close friends, we don’t all work in the same place but we make time for each other.

weekly dinners/chill sessions at my house because i’m always cooking and love entertaining for fun.

my significant other and I always make time for each other and for ourselves.

no kids right away, but if it happens, the more the merrier.

My end game is really this: I have someone (friend, SO, child, etc) in my life to make happy and to make me happy.

Posted by Johanna Granlund  | November 8, 2017 at 12:07PM | Reply

Done! I’m very career driven even though I haven’t finished college yet. But I have some big dreams as soon as I graduate.

Posted by Johanna Granlund  | November 8, 2017 at 12:06PM | Reply

Challenge done! I’m very career driven even though I havn’t finished college yet. But I have some big dreams as soon as I graduate.

Posted by Keith  | November 8, 2017 at 11:08AM | Reply

This is a great exercise! In May 2016 I graduated from graduate school and immediately began a job in a CMO, which has been very fast-paced! This exercise was very helpful in “re-calibrating” and re-aligning where I see myself and family in the future. Thanks!

Posted by Matt  | November 8, 2017 at 10:39AM | Reply

Done. I love my current job, but I do have some hopes for a change in the same field and with the same employer.

I have a disabled child who just turned 18, and the future had to include taking care of him, which made it a little tougher, but still doable.

Posted by Joe  | November 8, 2017 at 10:02AM | Reply

Great exercise.

Posted by Myru  | November 8, 2017 at 9:34AM | Reply

20 years from now, I see myself:

-happily married to my wife with three disciplined kids
-waking up at 5am and getting to bed at 10:30pm
-managing our own coaching business
-working with my wife with our other businesses
-doing my workouts at our home gym twice a week
-having a weekly swimming with my family
-finishing a book per week

I have encountered an idea like this years ago. It was called ‘reverse engineering’. It works the same thing just like what you have said in the article. However, I just read it and didn’t make time to set goals and visualize my future.

Therefore, I want to thank you AE for this challenge.

Posted by Mario  | November 8, 2017 at 8:31AM | Reply

Oh yeah, the good old dream game!

In the future, I still want to get up early. I do that now, and I do not think I am going to need more sleep, as I get older. So the day starts early (at about 6) and without having to hurry. A little exercise before going to the bath will be helpful.

After having or preparing breakfast, I am going to my office. I already have a job as a broker / consultant and I like it. Therefore, I want to keep that. I made a lot of the daily business in the last years but started switching to a leadership role. The next step would be to teach some of my senior employees to be able to take some kind of leadership role too. Then I can take more care of developing the company and making strategies, contacts etc..

Work has been a big part of the day the last years. Private life has been reduced for a while. This was caused by the expansion and the fact that I did not organize myself enough. By using techniques and tools, I want to be more and more able to fulfill my work in reasonable time, so I can leave office at a time where there is some time left for me and my wife, for friends, sports…

In my spare time, I like many things but do not have enough time or energy. I wish I could implement more of my hobbies in daily life. Moreover, I would like to learn to play ukulele. I have already had the instrument for 3 years now but did not manage to learn to play it.

I have not been very good at maintaining friends that I do not see regularly. It would be good if I would take better care of this!

But the biggest goal is, that I want to be more organized and conscientious in everyday life and in some business related topics. I have been working without tools, techniques and workflows for a much too long time. I managed to be some kind of successful with that but also missed many chances, due dates and deadlines. I have had lots of unnessecary trouble with that. When I was overwhelmed, I did not take care. I need systems and trustful workflows. This is even more important since my company grows and I am not only responsible for my existence but for the one of my employees.

There is a long way to go!

Posted by Linda  | November 8, 2017 at 8:25AM | Reply

I love where I live but can no longer afford the upkeep, so finding work that is satisfying and will preserve at least the status quo is my immediate future. My 5 year goal is to achieve working from home in my areas of interest and expertise.

Posted by Linda  | November 8, 2017 at 8:24AM | Reply

I love where I live but can no longer afford the upkeep, so finding work that is satisfying and will preserve at least the status quo is the goal for the immediate future. My 5 year goal is to have achieved working from home in my areas of interest and expertise.

Posted by Linda  | November 8, 2017 at 8:12AM | Reply

You are right Diane. Now I have to re-answer these questions.

Posted by Linda  | November 8, 2017 at 8:10AM | Reply

A scary moment when I realized my fun is also my exercise. Does that mean I don’t have any fun? My husband and I have worked as a team for 40 years and now we must look for new work. We had our own brick & mortar business for 30 years and for the last 8 worked together as a team for someone else. Now what to we (I) do if I (we) don’t want to repeat the past? We live in an area of limited opportunities for brick & mortar. We are not tech savvy either so online opportunities seem over our head(s).

Posted by Diane Thompson  | November 8, 2017 at 7:11AM | Reply

I made a discovery! I answered the questions thinking that the questions were about my present and then when I looked at the question again I saw that I was supposed to be answering what my ideal future would be. What surprised me is that I wouldn’t change anything. I am living my ideal future and I didn’t know it!

Posted by Corinna  | November 8, 2017 at 6:58AM | Reply

Great exercise. Really got me thinking about what I want. It’s nice to see it all in writing staring back at me. I really need to build routines and focus on what I want.

Posted by Jim  | November 8, 2017 at 6:42AM | Reply

I’m noticing that my 10 and 20 year focus is more focused on helping and giving back to others. It’s a calming and centering feeling I get as I think of where I want my life to go in the future

Posted by Fiammi  | November 8, 2017 at 6:34AM | Reply

Great questions, method and exercise but what do you do when you cannot see clearly into the future you want?
Also, why do I feel like I am lagging behind on this challenge? My location is Vietnam, where are you posting from and at what time?
Thank you!

Posted by Anesh Naidoo  | November 8, 2017 at 5:20AM | Reply

This exercise has helped me focus on what my future can look and feel like. I know I want to work for myself but having a vision of how that will look is a great dimension to add to my motivation to start working on this transition. Looking forward to the next challenge.

Posted by nick gunderson  | November 8, 2017 at 5:13AM | Reply

Great exercise, in 5 years I will be retiring my wife keeps asking what I will do to keep myself busy. Now I have the foundation of that plan.

Posted by Yuri  | November 8, 2017 at 2:55AM | Reply


Posted by Simon  | November 8, 2017 at 2:43AM | Reply

Wow. Coincidentally, last month I locked myself for the entire weekend in a quite place to work out my the “Manifesto of You”, where this vision of the future is a part of it. So, basically, I had it done. However, I’ve particularized the definition of my future based on Mike’s questions. Mike, thank you. Very helpful.

Posted by Laurie  | November 8, 2017 at 12:50AM | Reply

This was a great exercise to do today. I have been contemplating a significant decision for a couple of weeks, and have been uncertain whether or not to move forward. Doing this exercise gave me the impetus to “pull the trigger”, because I realised that taking this step now would help me to accomplish one of my five-year goals. It is such a relief to have given myself some clarity so that I can move forward from that particular worry!

Posted by Ignazio  | November 8, 2017 at 12:47AM | Reply

This was a difficult exercise for me … I found I didn’t know how to flesh my life plan … I’m all over the place with what I still want to achieve … complicated by the fact that I never worked with a clear goal to aim for …. and at age 58 my options are less than I would like …. I mean there is too much I still want and not enough time in my life before retirement .
It makes it difficult for me to be clear on what I should aim for .

I put together a list of what I want but not sure it’s realistic with the time I have left in my life .

Posted by Joe  | November 8, 2017 at 12:43AM | Reply

Done. I love this exercise! I’ve done this one a few times over the years and slow buy surely I’m gradually moving in the right direction!

Posted by Alice Ferris  | November 8, 2017 at 12:33AM | Reply

I wrote up my ideal future the last time this challenge was offered, but this time I started looking for pictures! I found a condo listing that looks pretty close to what I visualized:

Too bad it’s listing at $1.1 million! I guess I’ve always had expensive tastes…. :-o

Posted by Michael Breen  | November 7, 2017 at 10:58PM | Reply

The focus block really helped this morning, even though I had distractions everywhere! I just put on some headphones, turned up the music, locked my door and got to work. I moved my focus block to late morning (to better use on this exercise, and because I got home at 1 AM from that dismal Packer game). I will move it back to early AM or add another later on.
I brainstormed and free wrote about my future self, the ideal picture of what I want my life to be in 20 years. I had many examples of very specific items and traits, but the one thing that I noticed everything was tied to was time. I see myself in the future being very proactive and protective of my time, the opposite of now. The dozen notes under my door and multiple text messages and voicemails while I took 30 minutes for this, helped cement that fact. This exercise really helped me to realize that my lack of time control is the number one thing holding me back. I’ve done this type of “begin with the end in mind” exercise countless times before, but for some reason this time I feel like I got something out of it! I look forward to tomorrow’s post!

Posted by Niran  | November 7, 2017 at 9:41PM | Reply

Done. I do this yearly every fall

Posted by Kacy  | November 7, 2017 at 9:36PM | Reply

Drew out my life in 5 years:

That was a great exercise! I’ve done it before but just made a list of things. Drawing it out and getting a little more fun/loose/creative with it was a different perspective.

Posted by Margie  | November 7, 2017 at 9:29PM | Reply

I concentrated on a 5 year goal this time – once I have more experience with this process I’ll look at goals further out.

Posted by Christine McMullin  | November 7, 2017 at 8:54PM | Reply

I love the story of the corn maze. I’m currently living a life I love, but I’m getting mired in the details and the feelings of being overwhelmed. Elevating things to a higher level today helped me reconnect/discover what matters most in my ideal future. For me, it’s not the money or the stuff, but rather knowing I’ve made a profound difference. I was struck by the realization that much of my current crazy making is focused on “stuff” rather than making a difference.

Posted by Bob  | November 7, 2017 at 8:53PM | Reply

Good to make use of a focus block on some high level strategic thinking. Wrote for a half hour and have a good basis to continue this thinking. Two things stood out to me in this brief exercise. One was many things I want to do/enjoy I already have but don’t make the priority to enjoy/experience them. And two is I want to mentor/teach more as my experience grows. I’m looking forward to building on these thoughts.

Posted by Juan  | November 7, 2017 at 8:48PM | Reply

This is something I’ve been wanting to do on a yearly basis, as my life will change from year to year, thus I think it’s hard to have a five year vision. But ultimately, where I see myself in five years is being able to get up around 5:30 a.m. every morning, walking the dog first thing. I see myself moving on from my current career and working as a spokesperson/PR chief for another company. I hope to be doing more fun things with my spouse as he should be done with his studies, our house renovations should be complete, and our dog is fine to stay home alone for a longer period of time.

I can see my relationship with my SO being stronger as I work through my depression issues, which has been the major source of our intimacy issues. I’ve already made progress on this, and I hope by 5 years from now, I can say I’ve put these behind me.

Posted by Ella  | November 7, 2017 at 8:39PM | Reply

Wow. I’ve head about this exercise for ages, and have been meaning to do it, but this is the first time I’ve actually sat down and done it. I wrote for about thirty minutes straight, and now that I’m done I feel so much better. It’s really emphasized that I do want to move towards diversifying my income, and that I probably should start doing something about it, rather than just putting it in my Someday/Maybe pile.

Posted by Simon Westmann  | November 7, 2017 at 8:39PM | Reply

Done, and not done. I realize this is an exercise I need to return to quite a few times this week. I’ve recently begun the search for a greater goal of sorts as I’m out of university, but not sure what to do next. And as an avid sleeper, the answer to the first question about sleep is better late than never.

Posted by Linda  | November 7, 2017 at 8:37PM | Reply

Doing this exercise, I realized that I will work for at least another 20 years and I actually find that exciting. This brings me great joy.

Posted by Jonathan Boivin  | November 7, 2017 at 8:35PM | Reply

Just completed today’s exercise! Thank you for the opportunity to think about my goals. I look forward to the extra motivation!

Posted by Neil  | November 7, 2017 at 8:32PM | Reply

Done. Found it interesting both in what I wanted to change and what I already have that doesn’t need to change.

Posted by Randy  | November 7, 2017 at 8:22PM | Reply

Done! Couldn’t complete all three phases in the time blocked, but got a good start with my five-year plan. Had forgotten how bright the future can be, once one strips away the suck!

Posted by Mark  | November 7, 2017 at 7:16PM | Reply

Nice exercise to think about where I need to focus for my Q2 (important but not urgent) items. I need to work on the relationships in my life and drastically reduce the Q1 noise at work so I can make progress on my work objectives.

Posted by Rachel Ibok  | November 7, 2017 at 6:56PM | Reply

This exercise clarified some of the nebulous things that have been floating around in my mind. I turned 30 this year and having been struggling to figure out where I’m going. The honest truth is that I’ve never been able to imagine my life at 30 or beyond. I never imagined being alive at 30.

Now that I’m here I realize I do have some career and life goals. I’ve also realized that it’s okay to have them. Because of this exercise I was able to imagine an ideal future that can actually happen.

Posted by Evan Humes  | November 7, 2017 at 6:51PM | Reply

Will be doing this tomorrow on my Day 3 Focus Block, as the challenge updates don’t come until my Focus Block for the day has already passed. But I’m still with ya.

Posted by Tamika Sykes  | November 7, 2017 at 6:46PM | Reply

I have finish my I vision for my ideal future. Why was the first question, “When do you wake up in the morning?” actually the hardest question for me. I struggled with the ideal time for most successful people which is normally 5am or earlier versus what is my ideal time -6am

Posted by Teejay  | November 7, 2017 at 6:45PM | Reply


I see myself living in California, near family again because both my kids will be out of the house by then. I also see myself with a similar job that I have now (because that’s what I’ve been training and guiding towards already) but in the private sector making more money. ;)

Posted by Michael  | November 7, 2017 at 6:19PM | Reply

My career, five years from now would be leading a team of developers. I would be teaching them how to solve problems that help the client and automate tasks for efficiency and to reduce errors.

My relationship with my wife will be stronger every day as we continue to learn from each other an help each other grow. We will be completely debt free and able to travel or help others in need.

Posted by Qianhua  | November 7, 2017 at 6:13PM | Reply

Five years from now, i will be a supply chain analyst or working in a similar field. I don’t expect to be a manager till then, but would probably be at a senior position. I am excellent at work, but also have my friends, families and lover around me, enjoying what I have in life.

– I get up at 6.30 am
– I choose to work at my office, which is more engaging and can communicate more with the colleages
– As a senior analyst, I need to attend a meeting on the new supply chain project
– I go to gym regulary, enjoy biking/hiking/dancing, and travel every year to experience all kinds of interesting stuff
– I live in Munich
– My boyfriend/husband will be with me, parents come over sometimes

Will surely make it come true!

Posted by Diana  | November 7, 2017 at 6:08PM | Reply

My 5 year future will look like today. I am retired and stable financially. I want to improve communication with my adult children. I want to make a time block for walking my dog and a consistent time for aerobics. I will still enjoy golfing, painting, travel and reading. I want to spend less time on technology.

Posted by David  | November 7, 2017 at 5:49PM | Reply

Wow. Hard lesson, but worth it. Thanks!

Posted by Melissa  | November 7, 2017 at 5:37PM | Reply

This was a hard exercise, as a graduating college student.

I’m not entirely sure where my career is going mostly because there are so many options for my degrees (physics and chemistry). I plan on getting at least a master’s if not a Ph.D. in physics after my gap year. Nowadays physicists are wanted in so many fields, including tech, medicine, science, finance, etc.

Honestly, the surest thing I have right now is that I will marry my boyfriend within the next few years while I’m finishing my degrees. I can picture pretty clearly what my personal life will look like.

I think there’s a right and a wrong time to think about your future self. For where I am at this stage of life, I need to be as present as possible. I am generally orienting myself in the right direction, but too much is uncertain to carve too specific a path into my future.

… Which is good for me to practice because, most of the time, my head is in the future when it needs to be in the now!

Posted by Don Pavlik  | November 7, 2017 at 4:49PM | Reply

I have never done this before, and I am glad I am taking this opportunity to do this and to give me some direction on where I am going.

Posted by Dan  | November 7, 2017 at 4:28PM | Reply

Done! Afterwards I put the answer for each question into a spreadsheet going forward 5, 10 and (dare I say) 20 years, and… I also added columns for each question, going back 5 & 10 years, just to give some hindsight perspective. It helped me identify which of these areas I’ve more or less been “on-track” with, and others where there’s been some derailment.

Posted by Todd  | November 7, 2017 at 4:27PM | Reply

This is helpful as I tend to execute more than I tend to think so this helps me take a lot of steps back to make sure I’m executing on the right things.

Posted by Oliver Glenn  | November 7, 2017 at 4:20PM | Reply

A really useful task, thanks!
I built a vision tracking sheet. But here are the specific questions answered too.

What time do you get up in the morning?
– 7am

What do you during the day?
– Walk kids to school. Exercise (run). Golf then work 2-3 hours max. Pick kids up, play then family supper. Set up next day, read, sleep.

What kind of job do you have?
– Location agnostic.

What do you do for fun?
– Golf, hike, swim.

What do you do for exercise?
– 20-30 min run.

Where do you live?
– Southern Spain, or somewhere warm and sunny.

Who are the important people in your life that are there with you?
– Wife + kids. Yes.

What kind of car do you drive?
– None, rely on ride-sharing services.

What is your relationship with your significant other like?
– Equal, supportive, creative, shared. On top of the normal loving stuff ;)

What is your relationship with your kids (if you have any) like?
– Joyful, playful, magical but with solid guidance and direction.

Posted by Eric  | November 7, 2017 at 3:22PM | Reply

A great exercise I have been putting off for quite some time. Here’s my first draft, but I expect it will change before the year’s end.

Posted by Oliver Saunders  | November 7, 2017 at 3:17PM | Reply

OK, I have found this really useful because the questions and focussing on a future image make me look at what I really want rather than what I think I want. This has helped me to realise an area of my personal life that needs dealing with but which I have been making excuses and justifying to myself about. This was really useful – thanks. It also reminded me that last year I wrote ten sentences about achievements – not all them happened but more did than has ever happened before so time to revisit I think.

Posted by Oliver Saunders  | November 7, 2017 at 3:15PM | Reply

OK, I have found this really useful because the questions and focussing on a future image make me look at what I really want rather than what I think I want. This has helped me to realise an area of my personal life that needs dealing with but which I have been making excuses and justifying to myself about. This was really useful – thanks.

Posted by Jaz  | November 7, 2017 at 3:09PM | Reply

Luckily I booked more than 30 min for this exercise as it really made me to reflect, not only on my future, but how I am spending my time today.

I was able to write down a couple of action points (short term) that I will revisit in a while. These points should help me stay focused on the long term goal.

Posted by Bunnie  | November 7, 2017 at 3:08PM | Reply

I’ve done this exercise before, so it was easier this time. But my future involves a beautiful well decorated condo in Seattle proper that I own, with rococo inspired cream and wrought iron furniture, florals and art around the space bringing it to life, and I spend my days running around and running my business, interacting with people and keeping projects on track.

Posted by Lisa  | November 7, 2017 at 2:12PM | Reply

Great exercise, thanks!

I think it’s helping me focus on the essential things- which can be difficult sometimes.

Posted by steven  | November 7, 2017 at 2:06PM | Reply

Definitely a great exercise… sometimes the refresher to look ahead and plan accordingly is often put on the back burner from all the fires.

This is my 5 year, but I already started on my 10 and 15 year along with a vision board of each.


Posted by Mike  | November 7, 2017 at 1:27PM | Reply

That was fun! It is good to plan my future as I would like to see it, but also to have all the desires and activities lived out from having found the best version of myself.

Posted by Phillip Imbesi  | November 7, 2017 at 1:27PM | Reply

I’ve been saying for a while I want to be a lean mean daddy machine. I’m still working out in my head what that standard is. Mostly it’s about maintaining my health so I can be there for as long as possible for my boys.

However, if I flesh out some things

I would rise at 5am, Get some mediation, and some exercise in.
Swim or bike mostly training for my next challenge race. I love what I do so I think I’m ok there. I would drive a sensible car to work no need to be flashy as long as it’s paid for. I wouldn’t carry any debt except maybe my mortgage.

I might splurge and buy an old coach rail car, refurb it and have it around for those times when my family and I go traveling.

As long as I’m there to be counted on, I’m good.

Posted by Alexander Malmström  | November 7, 2017 at 1:24PM | Reply

Wow, I’ve asked myself these questions so many times. I’ve actually put together a 5 page life plan and I used the time today to go throu it with these questions in mind. And I changed it up a bit, it’s a constant working progress.

Posted by Anantha Subramanya  | November 7, 2017 at 1:05PM | Reply

5 years from now;
– I would have my own home
– I would be in the senior management
– I would be more valuable to the organization I work and to my family
– Focus on small wins rather than one big goal

Posted by Don  | November 7, 2017 at 12:48PM | Reply

Five years from now, I expect I’ll be:

* Waking up at 5am (well, getting out of bed, if not waking up), as I do currently;
* Working in the same field, though at a higher level of executive responsibility;
* Doing more running/hiking/biking/playing racquetball/geocaching;
* Living with my wife and son in our current community (or one very similar);
* Doing less driving and getting around more via mass transit; and
* Grow my relationship with my wife into one that’s happier and more active than it is now, with freer and more open communication about absolutely everything;
* Foster my relationship with my son into one that’s calmer and less conflict-ridden;
* Enrolled in (or having completed) a doctoral program in leadership and change to give me the tools I need to help further improve my community.

Posted by Árpád  | November 7, 2017 at 12:38PM | Reply

Since a while I have a sceletton of my “future me”, this was the colouring and detailing session. Very exciting! Especially because of I just realised that during this year I made already some progress towards my visions. By the way officially I should be retired in 14 years :) but I do not feel myself limited to plan my next 20 (-50) years. From January next year I will have a new position within my company I work for, what will be a good challenge to learn new things again, and will help me to keep fresh my brain as well. One more thing :) I strive to have all day a little fun, to let me enjoy life continuously.

Posted by Tomas  | November 7, 2017 at 12:38PM | Reply

This is challenge is great. Today in my focus block, I started working on my ideal future and after seeing today’s challenge, it really helped to bring it together. Looking forward to tomorrow’s challenge.

Posted by Christine  | November 7, 2017 at 12:25PM | Reply

Thanks for this exercise! I realize that in many ways I am already living my ideal future, especially with my work and hobbies. There are definitely a couple of areas in my personal life that I need to work towards improving.

Posted by Ashley  | November 7, 2017 at 12:25PM | Reply

Done! this was way harder than I thought.

Posted by Jason  | November 7, 2017 at 12:08PM | Reply

Sometimes it’s hard to think so far into the future when you’re busy coping with right now, but doing it helps to set a waypoint and make sure that your activity in all the busy-ness is still headed at least somewhat in the right direction. Just like in the corn maze, sometimes you’ll need to go left or right (or even back a few steps) before you can make progress towards the exit, the same is true here. But if you don’t know what direction you’re trying to go, you’re lost.

Posted by Great  | November 7, 2017 at 11:57AM | Reply

Wonderful exercise – I need to do this with my husband too!

Posted by Susan  | November 7, 2017 at 11:52AM | Reply

Short term, I can think of a number of things that would make my life more ideal, including setting aside more time for self-care. My time is being used very poorly at this point and maybe the most important thing I need to do is concentrate on how to fix that before I concentrate on anything else. That’s my “big rock.”
Now, for the rest of the exercise:
Ideally, five years from now I’d be running my own publishing company, and by ten years down the line have a winter home and a summer home. Twenty years down the line I’d be involved in the community in a much bigger way than I am now, with volunteering, or even running a charity of some kind. I have more written down in my Personal Manifesto notebook in my Evernote.

Posted by Kat  | November 7, 2017 at 11:51AM | Reply

Slept in too much and had to move my focus block… at least now I know not to schedule it for soon after waking up! But my 30min focus time ended up turning into an hour, and now I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something this morning!
I’d thought a lot about my future over the summer, but it’s always good to rethink things… In 10 years or so, I hope to have published at least one novel and have at least one of my comics well underway, have moved back to Europe (still not sure where yet), and have paid off most of my college debt. Realistically, I’ll probably still be in the US, and be working a normal day job while I write and draw comics in my free time, but that’s all right. As long as I keep moving forward to reach my goals someday, I’m not too rushed about getting through the process.

Posted by Troy Patterson  | November 7, 2017 at 11:42AM | Reply

Completed my 5 year future, but plan to use another block later to look at 20 years. That one is nearing retirement and will look very different I’m sure. 5 years has some big changes for sure, but nothing like the 20.

Posted by Sanjay  | November 7, 2017 at 11:26AM | Reply

Great exercise. Have not done this for a while as I got caught up in the “whirlpool of suck”! Sitting down to think of the next 10’years, I would like to make full Professor, have my sons in college and at a fulfilling job , and have a holiday home in warm place that I can spend winters with my wife. I would like to have invented at least two things that make a patients’ life significantly better and written and published at least 2 highly regarded reference texts in my field of medicine.

Posted by e.e.  | November 7, 2017 at 11:19AM | Reply

I am so excited about the future and thinking about these things really makes me reflect on the kind of life I’m working towards.

Luckily I have a lot of my habits in play already, like the exercise and the wake up time, but I really do need to focus on where I am going to be.

Just focused on it for a good amount of time and I have a good idea of what I want to be. Work harder, less distractions are at the forefront.

Posted by Ben  | November 7, 2017 at 11:12AM | Reply

I’d tried a similar exercise after listening to the “manifesto” episode of the AE podcast a few years ago, but this time I managed me a much more vivid picture of the ideal future. Good stuff. I need to re-visualize this periodically…

Posted by Thomas  | November 7, 2017 at 11:10AM | Reply

What an important exercise! Realizing that in order to accomplish my long-term goals, I really need to begin building routines and habits that’ll lay the bricks for the foundation of the future. Hopefully that’ll be a future Focus Challenge activity? :)

Posted by Saju K  | November 7, 2017 at 11:10AM | Reply

Great focus exercise. This was an activity which was quite overdue and thanks to this challenge I was able to sit and more importantly focus on getting the vision right. I have uploaded it at my vision of how my life is to be.

Posted by Tom Erickson  | November 7, 2017 at 10:54AM | Reply

After yesterday’s exercise started reading First Thing’s First again. Forgot how easy it is to lose focus with everything going on, and forget about yourself and other.

Started my morning ritual one small item to make it a habit then will add the next.

Posted by Mary Benson  | November 7, 2017 at 10:32AM | Reply

I have the elements of my ideal life/relationships now, but oddly enough, I have too much! My new ideal life I think will have less in it–fewer projects, fewer schedule commitments.

I was talking with a friend recently about how we both function best under pressure, so if things ease up, we instantly take on more to get that adrenaline-fueled overwhelmed feeling. I am wanting to try not taking on new projects, practicing saying ‘no’ to opportunities to do more, just to see how that feels.

Posted by Jeremy Brown  | November 7, 2017 at 10:27AM | Reply

I was able to refresh my ideal future. Great exercise!

Posted by Russ Fellows  | November 7, 2017 at 10:23AM | Reply

Wow. Started thinking about the more distant future and realized I had no sign posts, no markers to guide where I want to go. I listed several goal/markers under my five, 10, and 20 year points in the future. I have created a vision board that is the first thing I see when I get up in the morning, and the last thing I see when I go to bed at night. Actually made me feel a little excited to list these things out.

Posted by Jeremy  | November 7, 2017 at 9:46AM | Reply

Done! This was a great exercise; even though I love my job and basically everything that’s going on right now, I still need to keep a clear vision for the future.

Posted by Bill  | November 7, 2017 at 9:38AM | Reply

This has been an exercise that I’ve been telling myself over and over I should do, but never have. Thank you for the encouragement to get this piece moving!

Posted by Wesley  | November 7, 2017 at 9:06AM | Reply

Focus block complete!

I realized that a few of the small changes I have been working into my life have a bigger and longer impact on my life than I had previously considered. I’ve been waking up every morning at 5:00 and making sure that I get at least a little exercise done in my morning routine. I made these changes because I want to feel better in the moment, day to day, and hadn’t stopped to consider what kind of potential there is for this being a game-changer over the course of 5, 10, or 20 years. It feels good.

I reflected on the professional side of my life and noted that I enjoy what I’m doing and the company I’ve been working for the last year and a half and that there is lots of room for growth. I plan to pursue leadership opportunities internally.

Though I don’t feel like a have a crystal clear “why” to use as motivation yet, I feel one step closer.

Thanks for the exercise!

Posted by Julia  | November 7, 2017 at 8:27AM | Reply

Much to think about, as I am at a point in life where my 5-year hope-for is within my current professional context, but in 10 years I hope to be / should probably be retired; very different vision of my life then. Which gives me much to think about.

Posted by Bob DeSilets  | November 7, 2017 at 8:12AM | Reply

Finished my focus block for the day. I realized that I started writing my ideal future the last time this challenge came up, but never completed it. This time around, I’ve picked a better time of day (morning after the kids have left for school, and before work), and am committing to complete the week’s challenges.

My job won’t change (hopefully!), but I can certainly get better at how I handle projects, as well as teach other people in the next 5-10 years.

I will schedule more time with the kids, and will be getting up earlier to run and do my daily planning (things I don’t do now).

Those are the big rocks, and I’m looking forward to getting there!

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