Mark Zuckerberg gives himself a 10-year challenge

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg knows something about New Year resolutions.

At the beginning of every year for the last decade, he’s set a new personal challenge.

That changed this year.

“My goal was to grow in new ways outside my day-to-day work running Facebook,” Zuckerberg posted to Facebook earlier this month. “These led me to learn Mandarin, code an AI assistant for my home … and get more comfortable with public speaking.”

This year, however, his new approach was to set decade-long challenges.

Most people would scoff at this approach. Of course, those are the same people who set resolutions on Jan. 1 and forget about them on Jan. 2.

I know this because I’m “most people.”

Zuckerberg has some credibility to back his 10-year challenge. After all, he learned to speak a new language and programmed a robot.

“This decade I’m going to take a longer-term focus,” Zuckerberg said. “Rather than having year-to-year challenges, I’ve tried to think about what I hope the world and my life will look in 2030 so I can make sure I’m focusing on those things.”

To set this kind of challenge, it’s important to think about what our personal lives will look like in 2030. I’ll be 60, eyeing retirement. My kids will be graduating, with careers, probably married, and — dare I say it — with a grandkid or two for their old dad.

“By then, if things go well, my daughter Max will be in high school, we’ll have the technology to feel truly present with another person no matter where they are, and scientific research will have helped cure and prevent enough diseases to extend our average life expectancy by another 2.5 years,” he added.

Here are some challenges Zuckerberg thinks are important for the next decade.

• Generational Challenge

Zuckerberg foresees complicated issues for the next generation of Facebook users, and they have little to do with social media. These include climate change, education costs, housing and health care. He put it to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative “to focus more on funding and giving a platform to younger entrepreneurs, scientists, and leaders” to identify solutions.

• Private Social Platform

Facebook is big (maybe too big), and Zuckerberg knows it even if he won’t admit it.

“Being part of such a large community creates its own challenges and makes us crave intimacy,” he said. “Our digital social environments will feel very different over the next 5-plus years, re-emphasizing private interactions and helping us build the smaller communities we all need in our lives.”

• New Computing Platform

The last three decades have been defined by technological advancements. In the 1990s, it was desktop computing. The 2000s gave us the web. The 2010s, mobile device. What’s in store for the 2020s?

Zuckerberg thinks we should be able to be anywhere and everywhere.

“The ability to be ‘present’ anywhere will … address some of the biggest social issues of our day, like ballooning housing costs and inequality of opportunity by geography.”

These are important challenges for all to consider, not just Zuckerberg, and they’ll take more than money to resolve. He’ll need time to change hearts and minds.

Let’s hope 10 years is enough.


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