What Is Your 100-Year Goal?

Steven Covey wrote: Begin with the end in mind.

As an exercise, he encouraged you to think of your funeral. Imagine how people felt about your death, what they say in your honor.

I encourage you to think even further. What is your 100-year goal?

Long-term goals help us orient our lives. They provide a compass we can use to make decisions and guide the course we take. Goals help us understand our progress, and give meaning toward our daily journey.

I am 40 years old. Baring major medical break-throughs, in 100 years I’ll be dead.

Earlier this year I went through an exercise and defined my goals at 2 months, 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, 50 years and 100 years. Why? To gain a better understanding of where I wanted to head, what I wanted to achieve and the milestones I needed to pass along the way.

The 100 year goal inspired me the most. Creating goals for after you’re dead changes your perspective. It’s no longer about what your direct actions achieve, but what you leave behind. Your legacy.

But legacy doesn’t accurately describe what I want. Yes, I want to be remembered. That was one of my 100 year goals. To be remembered beyond just a name or stories of relatives. But that wasn’t all.

I don’t want to merely become a part of history in 100 years, but to have an ongoing impact on the world. To be part of the present that will exist in 2113, affecting the course of people’s lives.

It’s one thing to achieve greatness in ones life and be remembered for that greatness; it’s quite another to extend that greatness past your death.

Steven Covey continues to teach people how to put first things first. Dale Carnegie continues to help people win friends and influence people. Anaïs Nin continues to unveil the beauty of life and love.

It’s no coincidence most of these people are writers. Writing endures. 

For years I’ve focused on starting and growing businesses. But how many businesses last 100 years? IBM, Ford, a handful of others. How many will still exist 100 years from now?

If you want to make an impact on the world, you can do it in many ways. You don’t need a 100 year goal. But it helps.

Figure out how to change the course of history, how to create an ongoing impact that extends beyond yourself.

I want to help people make better decisions. For the past 10 years I’ve been doing this by building data visualization tools that help people see their data better. For the next 10 years or more, I want to focus on helping people frame their decisions correctly, then using effective techniques to improve their decisions. In 100 years, long after I’m dead, I want people to use my work to make better decisions and improve their lives. That’s my 100 year goal.

I may not achieve it. But that doesn’t matter. A 100 year goal isn’t about achieving, it’s about striving. Striving for a future you won’t be there for, but which matters deeply to you.

Notre Dame took over 100 years to build. The mason who laid the first stone was long dead when the cathedral was completed. Yet even today, that mason has an impact on our world.

Will you be that mason? What’s your 100 year goal?

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