At 22, she’s already America’s sweetheart. Her records have sold over twenty million copies. So far, she has won four Grammy awards. Billboard and American Music Awards named her Artist of the Year. She writes most of her own melodies and lyrics. She sings about love and heartbreak. Former boyfriends, some of America’s most eligible bachelors, including Jake Gyllenhaal and John Mayer, find their way into her songs. Unlike most young stars, she manages her own business affairs. She’s on top of the world, so where does she go from here?
Taylor was born in 1989. Assuming she lives to 100, what will happen between 2013 and 2089? How will she spend her time, energy, and passion among the big buckets of work, family, friends, education, and service?
Hot on the heels of Reds, her newest album sensation this fall, perhaps Taylor will pause in 2013 to create a life map of her past, present, and future. If so, here’s what this writer imagines the work part of her map might look like:
Life Title: THE WORLD IS MY STORYBOARD
First 14 Years – Ages 1-14 (1989-2003) – Writing the Early Stanzas
I grew up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Mom named me after James Taylor, hoping a gender-neutral name would help me become a successful businesswoman. Thanks, Mom, it worked! Bucking three generations of bankers, I tried my hand at music and theater instead. Then I became interested in country music. I won a talent contest at eleven singing LeAnn Rimes’s Big Deal. My love of country music alienated me from the other kids in my middle school. I convinced my parents to move to Nashville when I was fourteen to pursue my music career.
Next 16 Years – Ages 15-30 (2004-2020) – Re-Imagining Country Music
After winning a national poetry contest, I wrote my first song at twelve. As an eighth grader, I received an artist development deal with RCA Records based on performances of my own songs. RCA wanted me to wait until I was eighteen to release my first album, but my songs were about my younger life, so I went my own way. My first big single was Our Song in 2006; it made me the youngest writer and singer of a country song hit. It was part of my first album, Taylor Swift. My second album, Fearless, crossed over to pop audiences and became the bestselling album of 2009. My third album, Speak Now, launched me on a thirteen-month tour performing to almost two million fans.
My fourth album, Reds debuted in late 2012 and I’m touring non-stop again. (now for the future I envision) I live a wholesome life and try to be a role model for my fans. Until now, I’ve sung about relationships, and how I’ve recovered from ones that didn’t work. As my fans grow into their twenties like me, I expand my songwriting to include love found, marriage, and raising amazing kids. My fifth album, Shining Knight, is released in 2015 with songs about falling in love, getting engaged, and becoming newlyweds. Two other albums follow on starting a family.
Next 20 Years – Ages 31-50 (2021-2040) – America’s Singing Life Coach
Since my fans follow my relationship advice, I start writing songs and books about all aspects of life: how to move on from bad bosses, how to make a difference with volunteer work and education, and how to let politicians know when you won’t take it anymore. My eighth album, Work Day, is released in 2021, my ninth album, We Teach, comes out in 2023, and my tenth album Stand Up, debuts in 2026. I create a Literacy for All program with local libraries across the country. Journalists start calling me “America’s Singing Life Coach” and it sticks. My personal and career advice is based on my Christian upbringing that the highest form of humanity comes through serving others. I begin investing my winnings in Nashville real estate and media companies. My 2031 personal development book, Greater Than Yourself, becomes a New York Times bestseller.
Next 50 Years – Ages 51-100 (2041-2089) – Business with a Heart
Nashville becomes the epicenter for pop music based on simple melodies and audible lyrics, and I have a little something to do with that. My entertainment company, Taylored Fit, signs artists who sing pop ballads about all aspects of life. These bestselling singing life coaches help people across the world create their own best futures. My television network produces family shows that teach people perseverance, resilience, and encourage viewers to reach for the stars. I model my business after Oprah, but with a focus on helping people through music.
With so much accomplished in her first twenty-two years, it’s almost frightening to think what Taylor Swift might achieve in the next four fifths of her life. But it helps to have a plan. From everything we’ve read about Taylor’s life so far, she has been working her master plan with remarkable results. Whether she’s dreaming up what we imagined for her, or something else, you can bet that she’s dreaming big.
Coauthor of My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future, Gotham Books, November 2012