Here is a rule of thumb: always plan for the next four years.

Someone recently asked me how I was seeing myself down the lane, in four years. I realized that I did not have an answer to that specific question, but many ideas about what I wanted to do. Just no well laid execution plan, and no projection of where those plans would lead me in the near future. I mumbled something invented on the spot that had little to no value and we moved on.

But the question stayed with me. I know what are the main things I want to achieve, from sailing across oceans long and hard – eventually on my own rig -, go back to do weeklong hikes across mountain ranges, possibly write a fictional book or two, and develop new ideas aligned with my field of studies – computer science (and possibly get to a more influential position, even if I am not sold on the idea right now). But I never thought of asking myself in which order I wanted to execute those few things that define who I am and who I want to be.

I decided I needed to put some rough plan in place, at least for the next four years, as that number had conveniently showed up in my thoughts. Like every other old kid who suddenly discovers he is an adult one bright morning, I have had a hard time putting those thoughts together clearly. 

Four years is a good timeframe. It’s not too far off to be completely abstract, yet long enough to provide time for most long endeavors to be underway. Making it shorter would nihilate long-term goals.  For it to be longer would make too rigid in the event of unforeseen circumstances.

More importantly, there is the need of a cadence. Once those projections are laid down, one needs to make sure she or he is accountable for it in front of herself or himself. A yearly checkup, at the least. Maybe more often. Maybe, once a month, one should turn back and look at what has been achieved to move towards the four year long planning. The right questions also need to be asked. What did I do to get closer to those goals? Did I enjoy the journey? What do I need to improve?

If you are curious,  here is the me I depict would exist in four years:

I am owning my own sailboat. Not a large boat by any mean, but a boat that allows me to sail far while having some confort for friends when we do a few overnight trips here and there. A boat that can be easily singlehanded.  Previously, I would have done a few more long offshore sailing trips – like a big race to Hawaii. But not only. I would have also done some local long endurance race like Race to Alaska or Washington 360, of which at least one on my own sailboat – maybe even in my current dinghy (an RS Aero). I would be fitter than what I am now, but nothing extravagant. Just what makes me able to do those trips. I

would also have found a few more friends to do backcountry skiing in winter, and initiated my girlfriend to it. Together, we would have had a few vacations exploring distant places. She would have started to enjoy sailing and cruising in summer, hopefully in Greece or Turkey, places that are dear to my heart. We would be more outdoor – go hiking (and camping) more often, when time permits. 

In terms of work, I would have found a good balance of a well paid technology job that still gives me the flexibility to do those  hobbies.  A job that understands my need of escape but values that I can work hard when needed. I would be senior, more advanced, but I am not necessarily keen on having more responsibilities  as my interest might lay elsewhere at the time – the outdoors I just described.

We would have moved to another place, still close to the water for me (or us) to sail, not too far from the mountains, and close enough to work that we could bike there. The place might not be huge, but would have a decent view of the landscape of the Pacific North West – since it might be where that place would be. I doubt we would be anywhere far away from the Seattle area. Water, mountains –  those things will never be far. 

Going back to Switzerland? I am not sure it is something I would, in fact, consider. It has been too long I live here, in the USA, now. I like the proximity to the sea, the work opportunities here. The mountains aren’t terrible, even if they are not the Alps. I would, however, not hesitate to go to Europe more often to spend time with friends and family. I miss them too much.  I also miss the feeling of belonging to a secular place that has seen my ancestors rise and fall for generations. I can tell you that, deep down, I will always see myself as Swiss. Nothing can and will ever change that.

In terms of personal development, I would have put together a book and learned in the process. The book does not  have to be  massive, but It would have a story I would like to share, that puts forwards the values I cherish.  Writing it, apart from learning from the experience, would have forced me to travel mentally to distant places and back in history.

Of course, nothing is ever written in stone. Things change. And despite the goals, the most important is the journey itself. It has to be enjoyable every bit of the way – who knows what might happen in the crazy world we live in?