by Megan McDonough

What do you have in mind for the next 20 years of work?

This is the not-so-small question I’ve been asking myself. Twenty years ago, I set out on my authentic work—leaving a safe corporate job to bring yoga and mindfulness to more people to support well-being. I’m gratified with that journey.

Now, 20 years in, it’s time to think about the next 20 (presuming, of course, that I live that long).

When I think about the future, I don’t want to fixate on fear—like whether Joe and I are saving enough for retirement, or if we’ll stay healthy. I’d rather take the big view: What’s the vision for aging well?

Here’s what I wrote on my office whiteboard recently as I considered the question: The vision is the organizing principle.

Rather than focusing on tasks, let’s first remind ourselves of the big vision. Then everyday steps, big and small, can revolve around this center of gravity. It’s so easy to get sucked into the tasks and miss the big vision that’s inherent in the smallest thing we do.

The future of work is lived into today. To work well, you not only need a worthy long-term aim, you also benefit from progress made each day. As Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer explain in The Progress Principle, the best inner work life comes from forward momentum. Step by step, little by little, even mundane tasks take on importance when connected to a larger aim—even one 20 years in the future.

May your work today revolve around your big vision, one that will sustain you for the next 20 years.

Megan Megan McDonough is chair of Wholebeing Institute, an educational organization co-founded with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. WBI is committed to spreading ideas and practices that can help individuals and groups live life to its fullest.