As we enter the new year, let’s view 2023 not as a single year, but as the first of more in which we will accomplish our long-term goals. Some results take a long time to achieve, and even though we may take actions that bring those results closer, we can do it more effectively if we envision a path rather than simply going from milestone to milestone.
When I was younger, I hardly connected short-term actions concretely to long-term outcomes. I would focus on the next homework assignment, project, or research paper with a vague 10-year goal, lacking a clear path to get there. With experience, I got better at seeing how these efforts could lead to goals that can be achieved only in years.
For instance, 10 years ago, I built my first machine learning course one week at a time (often filming at 2 a.m.). Building the updated Machine Learning Specialization this year, I was able to plan the full course better (and while some filming was still done at 2 a.m., there was less!). In previous businesses, I tended to build a product and only then think about how to take it to customers. These days, I’m more likely to see the big picture even when starting out.
Feedback from friends and mentors can help you shape your vision. A big step in my growth was learning to trust advice from certain experts and mentors — even when I didn’t follow their reasoning — and work hard to understand it. For example, my friends who are experts in global geopolitics sometimes advise me to invest more heavily in particular countries. I would not have come to this conclusion by myself, because I don’t know those countries well. But I’ve learned to explain my long-term plan, solicit their feedback, and listen carefully when they point me in a different direction.
Right now, one of my top goals is to democratize the creation of AI. Having a lot more people able to build custom AI systems will lift up many people. While the path to accomplishing this is long and hard, I can see the steps to get there, and the critiques of friends and mentors have shaped my thinking significantly.
As 2023 approaches, how far into the future can you make plans? Do you want to achieve expertise in a topic, advance your career, or solve a technical problem? By forming a hypothesis of the path — even an untested one — and soliciting feedback to test and refine it, I hope you can shape a vision that inspires and drives you forward.
Dream big for 2023 and beyond!
Happy new year,