I hired a coach a little over two years ago. I wanted her to evaluate my work product and provide feedback. Specifically, I wanted to know if I should keep the day job? I thought I was asking her to answer a simple question—was I good enough to take a shot?
I think she found the whole thing to be a bit amusing.
Our first session concluded with an unconventional assignment: Write down a five-year plan for your business/life. Where do you want to be five years from now?
Simple. I had drafted numerous business strategy documents. My five-year plan included goals, milestones, activities, progression, and financial metrics. I was proud to turn in my homework assignment so we could get this out of the way and on to the good stuff.
Upon review, and much to my dismay, I was asked to redo the assignment. My coach felt that my document lacked vision. There was no clarity around how I was going to live my new life as a speaker. Instead, I had turned the assignment into a financial planning exercise. My grade for the first draft was an incomplete.
In the ‘do over’ I was instructed to specifically craft a day in my life—but five years into the future. Where was I? Who was I with? What was I doing? What did all of that feel like?
I was clearly out of my comfort zone. In earnest, I began to really consider where I wanted to go and why. The more I thought about it, the more clarity I had around my future. I came up with insights that fueled both my passion and purpose. For me it was a ‘Jerry McGuire Memo‘ kinda moment that lasted most of a weekend.
My coach and I reviewed my revised five-year plan. I am happy to report that I passed the exercise with flying colors. My second attempted revealed an entirely new set of considerations. Now I needed to align my daily activities to support the five-year plan and it was abundantly clear that the current path wasn’t going to produce the desired five-year outcome. Big change was imminent. This is the hard part.
To initiate change and hold myself accountable, I shared the five-year plan with a few people inside my circle of trust. I realized that making your plans public means you are accountable to people you respect. Progress towards your desired result is now expected. Fear and procrastination have an adversary. I had improved my support network.
Change starts inside each of us. It starts first with awareness. Followed by action. A good way to practice change is to write down your goals. The simple act of writing them down, alone, can be a catalyst toward big progress. Refer to those goals often. Life evolves all the time and plans will change, but it is good to have a starting point.
Where will you be five years from now? Start with a written plan.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.