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Future-Proofing Your Goals: Exploring the Benefits & Pitfalls of Long-Term Planning


long-term plans for life coach and career coach

Do you plan long-term? Be it creating a 5-year plan or a 10-year plan?  If so, why? If not, why not?

 

I believe having some sort of long-term plan, or vision, can be a good thing, however, not at the expense of flexibility and changed priorities.

 

So what should you do in terms of planning long-term? I’ll explore the benefits of long-term planning and some of the drawbacks to it to see if there is a middle ground somewhere that can allow for both long-term planning and flexibility.

 

Benefits of long-term planning

 

  • Direction. Long-term planning provides a solid direction and vision. It’s easier to get to where you’re going if you know where to go.

  • Motivation. Having direction, and a long-term plan, can increase motivation and commitment as it can provide a sense of purpose.

  • Development. Typically, planning long-term encourages personal and professional development. Whether that’s starting a new hobby or brushing up your skills in a course for your career.

  • Strategy. Long-term planning facilitates the breakdown of goals, monitoring of said goals, better allocation and utilization of time, money, and energy, and creating contingency plans.

  • Curbs instant gratification. Long-term plans encourage making choices for the future as opposed to short-term needs or desires. “Short-term pain for long-term gain” as the saying goes.

 

Drawbacks to long-term planning

 

  •  Missing information. Planning long-term is typically based on assumptions we make about the future. The challenge is your dream job might be in a line of business you haven’t heard before (changing technology, etc.). Also, there tends to be missing information about ourselves of what we like and don’t like and how this evolves over time.

  • Outgrowing priorities or preferences. Yes, you can review a long-term plan and make changes, however, typically people stick to their long-term plan which can keep them doing things they wanted to do a while back but not today which can lead to frustration. It could also potentially compromise short-term performance and success.

  • Frustration. Adhering to a long-term plan, and distant goals, can cause frustration and stress if you either outgrow your goals, if progress is slow or obstacles arise.

  • Rigidity. As alluded to in earlier points, long-term plans can foster rigidity and overcommitment to plans. This makes it difficult, for an individual or an organization, to adapt to unexpected changes or be open to new opportunities (e.g., shifts in the market, advancing technology, etc.).

  • Complacency. Sometimes long-term plans lead to complacency if organizations or individuals assume the plan will guarantee success without continued effort or adaptation.

 

With the last points, you might be tempted not to plan long-term but, again, I believe it’s good to have a vision. This said, I believe it’s also important to periodically check-in and re-evaluate your vision based on more information. I’m not just talking about a changed market, for example. I’m also talking about changed values and needs. I’ve developed a habit of tweaking my personal and professional life based on my check-ins and re-evaluations.

 

If you see your long-term plan as a guide versus an unwavering commitment, you might be able to balance vision with flexibility, ensuring your plans remain relevant, aligned, and effective over time.

 

If you need help creating a long-term plan that best fits your needs or help with a plan you feel you’ve been too rigid with that’s not working out, fill out the form on my website to explore next steps.

 

Best,

Gorett

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