I'm going let you in on a secret: I'm a business coach who hates five-year plans.
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I've never actually made one for myself and I certainly don't encourage clients to do them either.
Five years is too long
It's not that I'm against making plans for your career or your life, it's just that trying to plan out the next five years is ridiculous.
A lot of change can happen in five years that will affect which trajectory you take. Hell, a lot of change can happen in one year or even the next few months!
I'm not the same person I was last year -- let alone three months ago. This changes my decisions which then changes the goals in my business.
Not only can you change, but your life can change too. There's way too much that's out of our control for us to try and plan so far ahead. We can't see that far into the future, so making detailed assumptions based on what you think will happen is pointless.
Instead, focus on shorter and more focused chunks of time. I have personally found that if I go past the year mark in my planning then I've gone too far. The same goes for coaching clients.
Too much planning can hinder you
I'm going to let you in on another little secret. I didn't plan to be a finance blogger. It just happened. And that's usually how people find a good fit for themselves – it just happens.
Whenever I'm leading workshops or working with private clients, I usually come across people who are desperate to find their career purpose. They think they can somehow analytically plan their way into it when in reality that's just going to keep them closed off from all the opportunities in front of their faces.
We need to allow for flexibility in our careers and our lives. That way we can be open to the opportunities and signs around us. Five-year plans run the risk of making us too strict and closed off.
People use it as an excuse to feel bad for themselves
I've worked with a lot of people who use detailed plans as a measure of success, only to make themselves feel terrible when they run into a bump in the road.
They don't have the money they planned on having. They don't have the house with the hardwood floors (because for some reason everyone wants that). They don't have the success they envisioned themselves having -- and then they wallow. To the point of not doing anything and giving up on all of it.
The reality is that people sometimes become way too attached to the outcomes outlined in the plan, and that makes it difficult for them to roll with the punches when need be.
They rarely consider what can go wrong
Everyone likes to think big on a five-year plan, but rarely do they ever do any risk assessment. We also tend to overestimate what we can accomplish. That's why when something goes wrong they freak out.
I stand by my belief that five years is way too long to plan out in the first place, but when you make shorter-term plans please make sure to consider what can go wrong so you'll be prepared.
I love making SMART goals and plans for myself and for my clients
What's a SMART goal? It's one that is:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevent, and Time-Based. Trying to think so far into the future without allowing room for flexibility or life's curveballs is a recipe for disaster which is why these kinds of plans have never worked for me or any of my coaching clients.