How to Visually Map Out Your Future and 10-Year Plan

When you settle in for a job interview, what’s one of the first things they ask you? If they don’t ask, where do you see yourself in ten years? Then, they’ll probably ask you where do you see yourself in five years? This is especially true for jobs and careers that require an investment from the employer. Your potential future employer wants to make sure that you’re going to stick around.

So, that’s the real question, where are you going to be in 10 years?

A 10-year plan sets you up for the next decade of your life. Life throws unpredictable shots at everyone. The chances that everything will go according to the plan is a toss-up. But, at least you’ll have an outline of the things that you want to accomplish. It’s one way to prevent taking severe wrong turns, doubling back, or making a U-turn altogether. 

Let’s look at some tips to help you how to map out your future and 10-year plan.

What is a Visual Map?

Before getting started, ensure that you understand the visual map concept; visual maps are also known as mind mapping. It’s a series of arrows and lines that stem from a central idea. In this case, the central idea is you. You are the starting point. The other items on the map surround you.

The arrows and lines represent branches. The branches lead to specific ideas. For example, in the next ten years, you hope to marry. One of your branches points to your future spouse. On that branch, write down your spouse. To define your ideal spouse characteristics, draw another branch. This is a sub-category.

Visual Map Tools

Pinterest is a visual map tool some individuals use. It’s simple to navigate and easily accessible online. Plus, it’s free. During the brainstorming phase, Pinterest comes in handy as you gather ideas. Don’t over-rely on it, though. This is your visual map, not someone else’s. Don’t get caught up in the perception of some else’s perfect life. Focus on yourself.

Journals are another highly recommended visual map tool. As you explore the thoughts and ideas in your mind, jot them down in the journal. It keeps everything in one place. Journals provide several pages for writing.

A visual map is similar to an idea storyboard. Instead of images, you’re using words. But, you can still use a corkboard, thumbtacks, and index cards to pin your ideas.

What Goes on a Visual Map?

For a 10-year life plan visual map, you’re going to ask yourself a series of questions around some general topics such as:

  • Housing
  • Romantic relationship
  • Family
  • Career
  • Friendships
  • Travel
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Community

Today’s young people face far more uncertainty than the previous. So, many find themselves in a constant state of turmoil. Opportunity and happiness present themselves in all economic conditions and state of world affairs. It boils down to whether or not you are ready to capitalize when happiness and opportunity present themselves.

How To Visually Map Your Future Steps

With those topics in mind, grab a piece of paper and a pen or your favorite marker. Draw a circle and write your name in the middle. Pick the most important topic from the list. For this example, we will focus on housing as the key topic.

Mind Map Example: Housing

Draw a branch from the circle with your name to a new circle. In the new circle, write the word Housing. 

Now, think about the type of housing you want to be living in 10 years out. Draw a branch from the Housing circle to a new circle. In the new circle, write down the kind of housing. You may want to live in a condo. Other people aim for a three-bedroom house on the coast. 

Mind Map Example: Health

Let’s pick a second topic. We’ll use Health this time. From the circle with your name,  draw a new branch to a new circle. Inside, write Health. Now, think about ways to get healthy or ways to maintain health.

Your future health depends on your current health. Maybe you’re doing well, and you simply need to maintain it. How are you going to do that? Your family medical history may dictate that you need to stay away from sugar so that you can write a low-sugar diet. You might need more exercise, so write down gym membership.

Mind Map Example: Career

One more example to help you get started. Let’s pick the topic Career. This might need a chain of branches. What’s your ultimate career goal? Maybe your dream job is photographing puppies for a living. What do you need to do now that will get you there in 10 years?

A photographer requires equipment, photography skills, and editing skills. To start, you can take a class at the local community college, trade school, or learning annex. From your name circle in the middle, draw a branch to a new circle. Write Photography Classes. After you gain photography knowledge and theory in class, it’s time to build a portfolio.

If your friends have pets, ask them to lend you their furry friends. Photograph the pets and put together the portfolio. On the visual map, draw a branch from Photography Classes to a new circle. Write Build Portfolio. With the portfolio in hand, it’s time to make some money. Your goal is to get hired as a photographer.

From Build Portfolio, draw a new branch to a new circle. Write Get a Job. This might be enough for the next 10 years. If you are ambitious, you might add a new branch and a new circle. In that new circle, you can write Own Photography Studio.

Mind Map Examples Summary

These are some examples to get you started on the basic how-to’s of mind mapping.

Your mind map result is a series of circles and branches that stem from you in the middle. The steps include:

  • Place yourself in the middle of a page
  • Pick a topic
  • Create a branch from you to the topic
  • Feel free to create sub-topics between you and the topic with additional circles and branches
  • Admire your final product

After you draft the first one on paper, you can use software to clean it up, such as Powerpoint. 

10-Year Plan Elements

Life coaching professionals recommend clients put together a 10-year plan. It forces them to focus on the future and now. By focusing on a long-term plan, you get to know yourself better. You also begin to understand obstacles and barriers. Obstacles and barriers are a reality. They don’t have to stop you in your tracks. You simply need to prepare for them. 

An element of the 10-year plan is a focus. Goal setting is another. Suppose you’re not sure about your goals, brainstorm. You may not be ready to look 10 years into the future. Consider starting small. You can break down the plan into two 5-year segments. You can also break down the entire plan into annual segments.

If nothing else, the plan churns the cogs in your mind. Some people require motivation. If they can see their home, clothes, and family 10 years into the future, they are motivated to create change in the present.

Researching the process is another 10-year plan element. If you’re interested in running a food franchise, you learn about the process. On top of the investment the opportunity requires, you need to know how much support the franchise provides its franchisees. Budgeting, marketing, and human resources are other franchise components.

This is how you find out if you need additional business training or education. You find a purpose. 

What Benefits from a Visual Map?

A visual map stops the merry-go-round of uncertainty. Every life has stages. Today, some life stages see delays. Others receive more focus.

Some things a visual map accomplishes are:

  • Helps you realize that there are things that you don’t want because they’re not important to you
  • Know where you want to go so you can set down the path
  • Helps you visually see the path
  • Keeps you on the right path
  • Encourages you to take opportunities that benefit your path

You are allowed to wander in your life. If your wandering doesn’t negatively impact yourself or others, then you might wonder why you should stop. The point is, what happens when you can longer wander? People are living longer, so more years need funding. When you are older and get sick, how are you going to pay the bills? Will there be anyone by your side to look after you if a sickness becomes debilitating?

The map is never complete because life changes. Feel free to revise it as needed annually or bi-annually.

Visual Map Suggestions

As you work on your visual map, reach inside. Get beyond your ego and selfish side. Everyone has both snd your map is private, so you can share it or not. So, consider the following points and be honest with yourself.

You Can’t Control the Future

You’re living your life among other people. They also have dreams and goals. Your goals might coincide with someone else’s, and there may only be enough room for one. Some people relocate because a family member comes down with a debilitating health condition. Others face an unexpected relationship, accident, or loss of income.

Your visual map is probably perfect on paper. Life has other ideas.

What’s Important

Daydreaming is wonderful. It offers the opportunity to reach for the stars, and technology has made some people’s dreams come true. Influencers are living extraordinary lives. You have to figure out what’s important to you.

If jet-setting, a mansion, or a professional sports career is important, then you should go for it. It’s true for 1% of the population. For the rest, a humble home, modest family, and satisfying career is enough. The point is not to get too hung up on the material. 

Start Doing

Children are natural dreamers. At some point, dreams become unproductive. You’re going to hit your life-stride and realize where your true talents lay. If you still believe that you can achieve your dreams, start doing. You can run your corporation, but it has to start somewhere.

Go beyond collecting online courses, Pinterest ideas, and dreams. Pick one and turn it into a tangible asset. 

Be Realistic

No one should tell you that your dreams are unachievable. It’s up to you to figure that out for yourself. The rags to riches stories that you’ve heard are true. The young adults who started a multi-million dollar company from their door room stories are true, too. 

If you’re willing to give up income and time to achieve your dream, do it. Don’t give up in the middle because you might miss out. Be realistic.

Focus on the Big Priorities

Every person’s life has big priorities. You need a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear. Everything after that is a bonus. If you still live at home, maybe it’s time to move out. When you move out, you have to figure out where you are going to live, how you’re going to pay the rent, and how you’re going to feed yourself.

Maybe to score a decent income, you need more training. So, your big priority is to find a path toward gainful employment. In addition to higher education, there are trade schools and apprenticeships that get the job done, too.

How to Visually Map Out Your Future and 10-Year Plan Conclusion

It may sound cliche, but life truly is a series of ups and downs. A visual map is a great way to tackle the highs and lows. It’s easy and practically free to get started. Set aside a couple of hours or days. Sit down with your tools such as paper and a pen, and start drafting.

You are the center of the map. Everything else stems from you. Your branches can point to family, a romantic relationship, and a career. Then, branch out into sub-categories. Keep it simple, and keep it honest.

After the draft is complete, check-in on the map once a year. If you need to make adjustments, go ahead and make them. Now you have a new version to work from. The point is to keep pushing yourself forward. 

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I'm Joshua from Australia. 🇦🇺

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