What’s Your 1,000 Year Plan?
At the start of 2017, people are planning for the year, quarter, month, week and even day. If you plan for 10 years, that’s viewed as long-term. A few crazy people have a 100 year plan. But who has a 1,000 year plan?
Hiroshi Tsukakoshi. I came across his masterpiece, Tree-Ring Management, at a bookstore in Narita airport, hidden in the tiny English section between travel and language books.
Tsukakoshi gives a 100 year calendar to all of his new employees when they first join and also asks them to think about their 1,000 year plan.
He gives his own reasons in the book and you should read those directly from him. Here’s why I like the idea.
1) Take the long view, appreciate now
It’s not about me or you. It’s not even about my children or your children. It’s about generations upon generations in the future. That gives us perspective from the long view. To see beyond the horizon.
At the same time, the length of our individual lives is insignificant. Mark your forecast death date on a 1,000 year calendar. Even if you’re off by 23 years, it’s still roughly in the same spot. This gives you the emotional conviction that time is short. Appreciate the moment you have right now.
2) Dream big, start small
To make a positive impact that lasts 1,000 years ain’t easy. It’s like rolling a snowball down a hill. Even when you die, the snowball is going to be small. But if the snowball is made in the right way and the hill is long enough and various random elements align, just maybe it’s possible that in 1,000 years the snowball is still rolling and growing. The only way to get there is to dream big.
To make that giant snowball, you don’t start by building a giant snowball. You start by making a small snowball. Then finding a mountain. Then rolling. And learning from what happens. Maybe you made a mistake creating the snowball. Maybe it was the wrong timing. Maybe it was the wrong mountain. Keep learning and doing. But start small.
3) Everything connects, improve yourself
We’ve got social networks, airplane networks and AI networks. The list is endless. In the past, it really could take 1,000 years for an idea to spread across a network. Now it can take 1,000 milliseconds. This creates a giant opportunity for a 1,000 year plan to impact more things faster and is one key difference from the past.
But everything being connected is also overwhelming for us. A 1,000 year perspective helps eliminate the noise. Before I can tell you how to improve, I’d better start by improving myself. Before you tell others where to focus their attention, it’s worth managing your own attention habits. Before we can change history, we have to be able to change ourselves.
If you take a 1,000 year view, what should you do?
1) Find something
Explore. Maybe you’ll find something new. And it’s not just about physically going somewhere. Zero, heliocentricity and gravity were all found.
2) Make something
Create. Maybe people will like it. The wheel, the Tao Te Ching and the Mona Lisa are still pretty popular.
3) Change something
Transform. Maybe there’s a better way. Politics, religion and business are all in desperate need of an upgrade.
Some people are already working with a 1,000 year plan mentality.
But it can be hard to start. Here are a few ideas.
Take a look at something around you right now and ask “is this the catalyst for my 1,000 year plan?” Most likely the answer will be “no”. So keep looking, and asking, all day. By the end of day one, you should have at least 101 bad ideas. Keep going till you find something interesting.
The next time you feel happy/surprised/angry or maybe just have a funny feeling in your gut, think about what’s causing that. Triggers of emotions tend to be good places to start looking. But don’t stop with emotions. Start observing everything.
Take two random things and combine them. The new remix is probably a bad idea but save it just in case. Make 99. They’re all probably bad but save them just in case. Keep going and at some point you’ll start to notice patterns and outliers. Follow those.
The best time to make a 1,000 year plan is now.