I have a long commute, so I spend a majority of my time listening to podcasts. Whenever a podcast host declares an interview as one of their “best interviews” or a “need to listen” interview, I usually roll my eyes and take the recommendation with a grain of salt.
But when I heard Tim Ferris say that the interview he conducted with Debbie Millman was one of the most downloaded podcast’s episodes he has done in the history of his show, I took notice and listened.
At first, it started out as most of the interviews I’d heard Tim do before. Not to say that it wasn’t good but I just wasn’t getting the WOW factor I was looking for.
Then it began to happen.
Throughout the interview, Debbie began to drop so many gems and insightful stories that I’d already been paid back twofold for the price of admission before the interview was half way completed. Debbie at one point even opened up about her history of abuse as a child, which not only showed her resilience but demonstrated how much she had to overcome to be at peace with where she is today.
If you don’t know who Debbie Milman is, here is an excerpt of the bio I pulled from her website:
Named “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA, Debbie Millman is also an author, educator, brand strategist and host of the podcast Design Matters. For 20 years, Debbie was the President of the design division at Sterling Brands, where she worked with over 200 of the world’s largest brands, including the redesign of Burger King, merchandising for Star Wars and the positioning and branding of the No More movement. She is also President Emeritus of AIGA, one of five women to hold the position in the organization’s 100-year history and a past board member and treasurer of the New York Chapter.
Needless to say, her resume and history in the design world are pretty extensive and impressive.
Ok, let’s get down to what really makes this interview so worthwhile to listen to and no you don’t have to be in the design field to appreciate Debbie’s story and words of wisdom.
Listen to the interview here
What really makes this interview stand out from the hundreds of interviews I’ve listened to it my car, was Debbie’s “Ten-Year Plan for a Remarkable Life” exercise that she modified from Milton Glaser and teaches in her classes. It’s at the [1:33:51] mark in the interview if you want to skip ahead but I highly suggest that you listen to the entire interview.
Here’s how the Ten-Year Plan works. You basically pick a day ten years from now and describe every detail of it. From where you wake up, to the color of your sheets to what you eat for breakfast. You describe every nuance of your ideal life 10 years from now. The exercise is meant for you to literally design your life.
Not only has Debbie said that everything in her Ten-Year Plan came true, she says hundreds of her students also have had their Ten-Year Plan’s come to fruition.
While you may have heard of similar exercises like this before, Debbie puts it in such an eloquent way that you can’t help but feel inspired and ready to take action. Here is how she describes the exercise in the interview:
“It is 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 your sheets like? What kind of clothes do you wear? What kind of hair do you have? Tell me about your pets, 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? Write this one day ten years from now. So one day in the winter of 2027, what does your whole day look like? Start from the minute you wake up, brush your teeth, have your coffee or tea, all the way through until minute you tuck yourself in at night. What is that day like for you? 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 there is no tomorrow; write like your life depends on it because it does. And then read it, once a year, and see what happens.”
The idea is that the more specific and the more in depth you describe your life in ten years, the more likely it will be to come true.
So what does this have to do with your finances? Everything!
By now you know that money is simply just a tool to get what you want out of life. Money by itself will not make you happy or content with life. If that were the case, the Ten Year Plan instructions would simply be “Write down how much money you want to have in your bank account in 10 years”.
Just to write down a number won’t get you to where you want to be. While it’s important to have specific metrics around your financial goals, it’s equally important to design a life around your financial goals.
Your perfect life won’t happen because you have money, you will have money because you have created a perfect life.
While Debbie’s exercise is already perfect as is, I want you to take particular notice on how you feel about your finances in your Ten-Year Plan.
Do you plan on completing this exercise? If so, let me know in the comments below.
Once you’ve completed the exercise and have decided that you’re ready to improve your finances, check out the Your Way To $85K Manual, designed to be your step by step guide to wealth.
Bonus- here are some other gems that she drops in the interview:
1. “Aberrant moment of courage”
2. “Don’t accept the first rejection ever – give yourself options”
3. “Don’t ascribe to malice what can be explained by incompetence or busyness”
4. “Ambiguity is always perceived negativity”