Can achieving your long-term goals happen by accident? Is it tempting fate to plan your life five or even 10 years ahead?
No and no, says executive coach Stacey Ashley.
Some long-term planning is healthy for everybody, Ashley believes. For those with big dreams, it's essential.
“People who have clear ideas about what's important and their goals are optimising their chances of achieving them,” Ashley says.
“Lots of people drift along and sometimes wonder how they ended up where they are.”
Business coach Andrew Sparks says clients in planning mode focus on three key things: career, relationships and health and fitness.
Long-term goals in these areas give life direction and purpose, Sparks says.
Four high achievers share their plans.
Mitchell Harper, co-founder of Bigcommerce:
Back in 2003, Mitchell Harper had one big plan: “To build a hugely global, massively successful company.”
Fast-forward 10 years and he is at the helm of e-commerce software vendor Bigcommerce and on the BRW Young Rich list.
Harper believes in mapping the road ahead; a passion he shares with his role models, the world's best known IT entrepreneurs, Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs.
“Those guys had long vision – 20 or 30 years,” Harper says. “Most people can't look more than five years ahead.”
Harper uses a framework borrowed from organisation expert Anthony Robbins to set his goals, which are then broken down into weekly task lists.
Plans for the next decade centre around balance – expanding Bigcommerce, building a strong family unit with his wife and their first child, due in September, and being more philanthropic. Harper volunteers at an animal shelter and plans to spend more time mentoring other young entrepreneurs.
2. David Conry, founder of Youngcare:
David Conry's life has been inspired and shaped by tragedy and challenges of a kind no one plans for.
A decade ago, he was beginning to find his wings in a sales and marketing role when his first wife Shevaune was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Conry relocated to Brisbane and became her full-time carer. When, in 2005, Shevaune's needs could no longer be managed at home, Conry was horrified to learn that an aged care facility was the only care option available.
His response was to establish Youngcare; an organisation dedicated to supporting young people with high care needs. The charity has 30 apartments in Queensland and a Sydney project in train.
“What I've done with Youngcare, I couldn't have envisaged it would be part of my life but circumstances dictated it was. Looking back on eight years, it was a wonderful experience,” Conry says.
Conry has announced he will step down as Youngcare chairman at the end of June.
Plans for the next decade include spending more time with his wife and their three sons and developing his career as a business consultant and advisor.
3. Lorna Jane Clarkson, founder of Lorna Jane:
Lorna Jane Clarkson has spent the past 15 years turning her exercise-wear business into a chain of more than 130 stores. She's also one of the country's most successful online retailers.
Clarkson says she's a planner – but not the type who needs to know exactly how she'll get there before she sets out.
“I'm more of a head down, put one foot in front of the other and make it happen, sort of girl,” she says.
“I've always lived by the belief that if you have a dream you only need a big picture plan to drive you forward.”
Her big picture for the next decade involves more of the same – growing her empire and spreading the active living message globally.
4. Emma Isaacs, founder of Business Chicks
Emma Isaacs has grown her women's networking group Business Chicks from 250 members to 28,000 nationally in just eight years.
Success has come on the fly thus far, Isaacs says.
“I've always had a long-term vision and can manifest what I want my life to be like in a decade's time, but I'm guilty of not necessarily stepping out a plan for how to get there,” she says.
“Now that I'm inching towards my mid-30s and have a family of my own, I've started to think a lot more about planning how I'm going to achieve my long-term goals, instead of just winging it.”
The goals list includes taking Business Chicks international, adding to her brood at home (she has three children under five) and building sufficient wealth to indulge her philanthropic ambitions.
“Last year while on a trip to Uganda, two Business Chicks members stood up one night and announced they would give $1 million to the charity we were there visiting and I thought, 'in a few years time, I want to be able to do just that too',” Isaacs says.