Do you know what you will be doing five years from now? That was a question I was asked this week, and it was one I found difficult to answer. Not because I don’t have goals or a vision of what I want to achieve, but more that five years is a LONG way out.
In today’s economic unrest, we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, let alone five years down the road. When I worked in the non-profit sector, we actually stopped doing five year- strategic plans, because with swings in funding priorities, who knew what the future would bring. It seemed like a wasted exercise, so instead we focused more on the short term – often planning one to three years out.
But there is another reason that I think it is a mistake to plan too far ahead – it can make you too locked into what is down on paper, and you could lose the ability to be nimble when an opportunity arises. To me, it is more important that you are clear on your mission, your focus and target audience – because then you are less likely to get pulled off track.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have operational plans and I’ve found putting my goals down on paper, makes it more likely that I will achieve them. It’s like setting off on a road trip, you are more likely to reach your destination if you’ve set out knowing which direction you are headed.