Visualize What You Want From Your Next Decade

And You’re Guaranteed to Make Better Choices Today

“I am not sure this is my purpose. I don’t think how I spend my time is consistent with my values,” Edgar said. (Edgar is not his real name.) “Maybe I should be working in marketplace ministry. Working in a corporation just doesn’t seem right. I’m unsettled, not at peace. And now I’m being offered a promotion which will keep me on the road all the time.”

Stepping into a New Decade

Edgar joined a startup as part of the third wave of employees and first wave of management. The company was growing rapidly, and it was requiring more and more from the top performers like him.

Edgar has been married a few years with three children. He has never really been motivated by money. He is a young executive, both smart and talented, with a history of hitting his targets throughout his career. But he is in the midst of a ton of changes.

He just stepped into a new decade, his thirties, which will probably define his life path for the next twenty-five years. He entered it with a wife, kids, house, cars, private schools, more cars, and college on the horizon. All of these require money, and he couldn’t be in a better career position. And now he is thinking of stepping off the fast train.

In our conversation, I helped him understand where the current professional path will take him. My focus was to be sure he understood how unique his opportunity was. I remember him leaving feeling a bit trapped. His heart was telling him to step off the train, but his head was saying to ride it out a few more years. This was his struggle.

A Few Years Later

After our meeting, we didn’t talk for several years. I wasn’t sure what he would decide to do. Then, out of nowhere, he called me.

He had stayed with the company. The confusion and unknowns about his career were resolved in the year that passed. The company compromised on their organization plan to meet his values. He compromised some career advancement in return. It turned out to be a good deal for both parties. And now he has another child on the way.

“Are you settled now? Do you believe you are where God wants you to be?” I asked.

“Everything seems to be going really well. I’m working hard, but I’m enjoying it. The company is doing really well. I am building a great team. We are hitting our numbers. The family is growing. My wife and I are in love and doing well as parents. But I’m still not sure this is where God wants me,” Edgar said.

“We’ve been meeting on and off for five years. I believe you were married for a year when I met you. You had also just lost a job because the startup you were working for flamed out,” I reminded him.

If You Had a Photo of Your Future

I asked, “If I had shown you a photograph back then of what your life would look like today, what would you have said?”

“I think I would be amazed. I don’t think I would have believed it,” he said.

“So, as a believer in Jesus Christ, where did all this good fortune in business and at home come from?” I asked.

“God,” he said. “It has to be God. Back then, not only would I not have believed the picture could become a reality, I don’t think I could have even envisioned it.”

“Maybe you should think about relying on God day to day. He seems to have you on the path of leadership and influence,” I concluded.

The Photograph Idea Stuck

My son, David, just turned 30 years old this week. He lived his twenties well. He established himself in an industry. He works in a startup which gives him lots of experience in multiple disciplines.

And he is in love with a wonderful young lady. He has traveled the world. He has hiked and camped at the most beautiful locations all over the western hemisphere. It’s been amazing.

At his birthday brunch, I said, “You are now 30 years old. This is the beginning of a new decade for you. We have the photograph in our hand which shows the results of your last decade. What does the photograph of your life look like at forty?”

He didn’t answer, but I know him well. David is insightful and thoughtful. I know he is thinking about it. He knows the decisions he makes in his thirties will truly set the course of his life. And he realizes, whether or not he knows what the photograph will look like at forty, there will be a photograph. He trusts in the Lord.

When we left the brunch, I asked myself the same question. I’m 65 years old. What will my photograph look like at 75?

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One thought on “Visualize What You Want From Your Next Decade

  1. Such a good exercise. So many people kind of stumble into and through their career, not necessarily connecting it to their passion. Along these lines, I love this poem by Robert Frost:

    But yield who will to their separation,
    My object in living is to unite
    My avocation and my vocation
    As my two eyes make one in sight.
    Only where love and need are one,
    And the work is play for mortal stakes,
    Is the deed ever really done
    For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

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