How to Plan for the Next 5 Years
Where do you see yourself in five years? Will you be a workaholic on Wall Street, living the simple life in America’s heartland or will you be a successful entrepreneur with a million-dollar business? If you are reading this article, I am guessing your answer is the latter.
While trendy strategies come and go, there is no substitute for classic goal setting. Here are a few tried-and-true tactics to propel your business to success.
Review your goals every day.
Goal setting is like getting on the scale — you’ll see greater success if you do it every morning. As entrepreneurs, dreaming big is standard practice. The distinguishing factor between the big dreamers and the big doers is that the doers take action.
“Sometimes our biggest life goals seem so overwhelming. We rarely see them as a series of small, achievable tasks,” writes Jack Canfield in his book, The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.“But in reality, breaking down a large goal into smaller tasks — and accomplishing them one at a time — is exactly how any big goal gets achieved.”
Behavior science expert and writer James Clear calls these smaller goals “systems.” “If you’re a coach,” he explains, “your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day. If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a million-dollar business. Your system is your sales and marketing process.”
Clear finds his success in focusing on the systems while keeping the larger goal in mind.
Evaluate your goals regularly.
Goal setting is a process of discovery as much as it is a way to get the job done. As you monitor your goals, ask yourself: Does this goal matter?
“Being a leader means finding the path,” explains author Kevin Hall in his book, Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose through the Power of Words. “But before you can help someone else find their path, you must know yours.”
By evaluating your goals regularly, you can make sure to focus on what’s important to you. For example, if your goal is to run 10 miles a day but you’re starting to have knee problems, then you may ask yourself if your goal is really to run (as an end in itself) or to enjoy a healthier lifestyle. This kind of flexibility will get you what you really want — and may save you from having surgery down the road.
Zig zag your way to the top.
While the idea of racing toward your goals at breakneck speed is seductive, there are unexpected obstacles that inevitably complicate any business. “The road to success is never a straight line,” writes Rich Christiansen in The Zig Zag Principle. “The diversions and detours I had often found so frustrating had actually created more stable and solid businesses. On the other hand — and without exception –each time I had raced directly at a target with high velocity, I had failed.”
Zigzagging requires you to be nimble and flexible and to take advantage of multiple opportunities. When a challenge comes along, consider your goal and whether it would be best to forge directly ahead or to pivot toward a different, short-term goal. It may not be the straightest path, but being adaptable is the clearest path to success.
Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have achieved their success in part by practicing disciplined goal setting. By breaking down your long-term goals into smaller daily tasks, evaluating your goals regularly and being adaptable, you too will enjoy the benefits of your efforts.