Why a Five-Year Plan is Useless

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samnewyearsWhether it was in an interview or somewhere else, we’ve all heard the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years.” My immediate reaction is to look for a barf bag, because, come on now. How many times have you been able to plan out exactly where you would be in the next five years?

Make a Plan But Be Flexible
A five-year plan is a ridiculous concept, because – simply – life happens. There’s nothing wrong with having goals and wanting to accomplish things, but you have to recognize that stuff happens that may not fit into your plan. Good and bad things happen, and opportunities arise that you might want to take advantage of that could take you in a different, better direction. Tip: If you really like the idea of a five-year plan, set a series of goals that will get you there, but be flexible on how you get there.

Five Years May Be Too Long
What are you waiting for? Think about the goal you’re putting at the end of your five-year plan and then re-think it. Why do you have to wait five years to accomplish it? Can you fast track it? There’s very little in this world that takes a set amount of time to accomplish if you are willing to work harder and smarter to make something happen. Tip: Don’t put artificial time limits on something that you really want. Find a way to do something more quickly and suddenly your five-year plan is your two, or one-year plan.

You Can’t See the Forest For the Trees
When you get so caught up in the details and small steps needed to complete a big, overarching five-year plan, you might actually be sidetracking yourself by spending a lot of time on the details. While you’re executing one step after the next, your big goal and what you really want could be morphing, but you’re stuck on all of the little pieces of your original goal. Tip: If your big goal is a moving target, adjust the small steps often.

We’re all about goals and plans, but don’t be afraid to change directions, think creatively and revise your plan. Life happens – embrace it!

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