Everyone has goals for their lives. The question is, how many people actually achieve theirs? Goals without a plan are just dreams; turning these goals into reality is contingent upon having a thought-out plan. Career experts recommend creating a five-year plan to focus, define, and clarify your goals. If you still aren’t convinced, here are four reasons why you should create a five-year plan:
1. It Begins Your Journey
Having a strategy with goals is the starting point for a career or a start-up idea. If you have a vague goal (wanting to switch from accounting to finance) but no plan, it probably won’t happen. If you want to make that goal happen by 2021, however, you are in a better position to take tangible steps to achieve that. Dream of the goals you want to achieve in the next five years and write them out. Once you draft out your goals, you may realize that some of them are too vague or unrealistic, at which point you can reprioritize your goals based on a set vision instead of idly wasting time. The goals should be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable, and timely).
3. It Creates Focus
Success has to begin somewhere, and focus is the beginning of success. If you’ve been wanting to lose weight for years, but don’t have a plan, it won’t happen. If you’ve outlined the steps you’ll take the meet your weight-loss goal, you’ll find a new sense of focus: and you’ll know where to start. For example, if you want to lose ten pounds your strategies may be: working out three times a week or cutting our soda. Even if you don’t start your plan right away, you’ll know where to start when you do.
3. It Gives You An Edge
Once your goals and plans are written out, they’re easier to manage, execute, and understand. After planning your strategy, the next five years may look overwhelming, but at least you have a plan. Besides, next time you’re in an interview and they ask “where do you see yourself in five years?”–You can answer that question confidently. The core point of planning is this: that you’re taking control of your process into your own hands. Instead of leaving it out there somewhere, in the hands of your boss or “fate”, you have that added advantage.
4. Acts As A Motivator
If you write or print out your plan, hang it somewhere visible like your bathroom mirror, the back of the front door, or a chalkboard. You’ll feel more motivated if you can see your plan because it will remind you of 1.) What you want, and 2.) How you can get there.
Of course, your plan will change as you progress, but it will give you security and purpose as your plans evolve along with your career goals. The proper way to approach your five-year plan is to evaluate, adjust, work, and repeat. If you spend too much time working on the minute details of your plan, you’ll find that critical opportunities have passed you by, opportunities to attend meetings or make connections, so don’t be afraid to evaluate and adjust as you go.
Take Your First Steps
If you want to find new employment or change your professional focus, The American Association of Finance and Accounting (AAFA) has over 50 affiliates in the United States and Canada. Our affiliates have teams of passionate and friendly recruiters who can help identify the best professional fit for you. Contact your local AAFA branch or visit aafa.com and start your five-year plan on the right foot.