Better to Know Where You're Headed or Make the Most of Now?

Better to Know Where You're Headed or Make the Most of Now?

Where will you be five years from now? Any idea or waiting to see where the winds of change land you? The five-year plan used to be “plan de jour” everyone had one, though it seems to have fallen a little out of favour of late. But, is there still merit in having a view of where you’re headed or does it restrict your choices and pre-determine the outcome?  

It is universally acknowledged that plans and goals help focus effort and are a common attribute shared by high achievers. By planning over a five-year period, you can include bite-sized steps to realise long-term life goals, painting the big picture, rather than just focusing on what is within your reach right now. It also allows you to make decisions which are focused on reaping the biggest reward aligned with the future you desire; choosing the outcomes that lead you to where you want to go, not just those that are instantly gratifying.

There are certainly people who advocate a shorter time span, believing that so much can change in five years that it we can’t possibly build goals for what we don’t yet know might exist. While some suggest a 12 month, 18 month or two year plan instead, it’s important to note that they do still advocate goals and a plan – this is key to driving yourself forward and staying focused. A shorter time frame is conducive to goals that feel more tangible and possibly more achievable, and of course have a quicker pay off. It also offers more flexibility in shaping your career and your future, with more frequent goal setting opportunities as time periods lapse.

Whichever way you look at it, the constant is the need for goals and a futuristic focus. So where to start?

  1. Set your time period so you know how long you have to achieve what you aim to
  2. Define what success looks like for you. Build your goals around this
  3. Ensure a mix of personal and professional goals are included for balance
  4. Start with the success and work backwards, determining what are the steps/milestones/achievements you need to complete to achieve the success
  5. Allocate each step to a year within your time period

And then perhaps most importantly, refer back to your plan. Don’t leave it in the back of your bedside table to be found when you’re cleaning out your drawers. Bring it to life by checking in on your plan every few months, noting achievements and adjusting steps or timings as you may need. Make it real by sharing it with someone you trust; this is a key step in setting and achieving goals. And don’t be afraid to deviate. Opportunities will arise that you could never have foreseen, don’t limit yourself by being too rigid. Be focused but flexible, ambitious but realistic and success shall be yours.