Debbie Millman, a professor at The School of Visual Arts in New York City, assigns an essay for her students every semester called, Your Ten-Year Plan for a Remarkable Life. She asks them, down the smallest detail, to envision their lives ten years from now.
The students can envision whatever they’d like, but they can’t be afraid. They envision what their lives would look like if they had no fear of failure.
Millman explained her writing exercise to Tim Ferriss last week on his podcast:
Tim Ferris: Can you describe the exercise as you do it with your students now?
Debbie Millman: It’s this ten-year plan for what I call A Remarkable Life. It’s about imagining what your life could be if you could do anything you wanted without any fear of failure. They are the most life-affirming essays. They are so full of hope, and optimism, and being and goodness that it gives me a sense that humanity can be saved.
TF: Do you have any parameters for people who might want to try this at home?
Millman: Let’s say it’s winter 2027. What does your life look like? What are you doing? Where are you living? Who are you living with? Do you have pets? What kind of house are you in? Is it an apartment? Are you in the city? Are you in the country? What does your furniture look like? What is your bed like? What are you sheets like? What kind of clothes do you wear? What kind of hair do you have? Tell me about your significant other. Do you have children? Do you have a car? Do you have a boat? Talk about your career. What do you want? What are you reading? What are you making? What excites you? What is your health like? And right this day, this one day ten years from now in winter 2027, what does your whole day look like? Start from the minute you wake up, all the way until you tuck yourself in at night. Dream big. Dream without any fear. Write it all down. You don’t have to share it with anyone other than yourself. Put your whole heart into it. Write like your life depends on it, because it does. Then read it once a year, and see what happens. It’s magic. It’s magic, Tim.
TF: I love this, I love this. I need to do this.
Millman: It is astounding. I do this now with all of my students, and I can’t begin to tell you how many letters I get from students from ten years ago that are like, “Debbie, it all came true! How did this happen?”