Some business owners prefer to stick to shorter-term goals because they believe it’s more realistic than trying to envision a future on or even two decades away. However, that short-term focus is likely to keep those business owners well and truly in their comfort zone, unable to break free of their own restraints and, therefore, unable to push the limits of what they’re capable of.
There are three primary benefits to business owners considering at least a 10-year goal if not a 20-year goal:
A compelling and clear goal provides exceptional motivation and a transparent pathway to the future. Setting the long-term goal makes it possible for the business owner to work backwards, creating a real roadmap to get there. Business owners that don’t do this tend to focus on what’s next. This will get them somewhere but it won’t propel them towards their goal. Focusing on the ultimate goal lets owners set milestones and even deadlines so that, rather than focusing on what’s coming towards them, they can focus on what they want to move towards.
Setting a long-term goal changes the questions that business owners ask themselves. It’s natural for people to as themselves what’s possible. But the answers to that question are almost infinite, barring any physical limitations. Instead, business owners should start with the goal. Then, instead of asking what’s possible, they will start asking what’s required. And that’s a question with concrete answers, giving business owners a practical way to move forward.
The subconscious mind processes information 24 hours a day and many times faster than the conscious mind. It retains a complete memory of everything the person experiences and drives most decision-making processes. It’s the reason a person will constantly see a certain type of car after deciding to purchase that same type, for example, and it’s the reason people have great ideas in the shower in the morning that relate to something they’d previously been working on. Harnessing the power of the subconscious means people can train it to support their long-term goals.
If not directed in some way, the subconscious simply processes on anything and everything you’ve seen, heard, thought about, watched on TV and so on. If, however, a person starts training their subconscious by showing it their goals every morning, they are directing it to process those goals. Once this becomes a habit, opportunities will start to appear and events will occur that are relevant to those goals. It’s not magic; it’s science. Training the subconscious will help empower business owners to be alert to opportunities to achieve their goals.
Setting clear and highly-motivational goals will help business owners achieve whatever it is they want to achieve. For example, if a business owner’s 20-year goal is to have a $10 billion company, then they can start working backwards from there to ensure every action they take from now on is explicitly geared towards achieving that goal.
So, they may determine that, to reach the $10 billion goal, they’ll need to have a company worth at least $5 billion in the next 10 years.
Working backwards, they understand that, to hit that milestone, they’ll need to be running their own company with significant growth potential in the next five years.
To achieve that goal, they’ll need to learn how to run a company, so they may set a short-term goal of gaining a university degree or MBA in the next three years.
That means they’ll need to apply for their chosen program within the next six months, which means they’ll need to research any prerequisites for their course and ensure those are in place within the next two months.
And so on, until the person has a plan for the next week and even the next day, with all activities specifically chosen because of their power to propel the person towards their goal.
Without that clear 20-year goal in place, the same highly-capable person may aimlessly drift from opportunity to opportunity without ever realising that their choices aren’t leading them anywhere in particular. They may achieve what they consider to be a modicum of success but, without a clear barometer for what success could mean, they may not ever fulfil their true potential.
Setting long-term goals isn’t just important for business success. For true happiness, it’s essential for people to incorporate their personal life goals into their business goals. For example, the person who aims to have a $10 billion company may not be planning to run that company in terms of day-to-day activities. Instead, they may want to use that company to achieve other life aims such as helping a particular charity or supporting a certain type of lifestyle, giving them time to spend doing the things they love with their friends and family.
In fact, it’s often the more personal goals such as achieving a certain lifestyle or contributing to society in a particular way that can be the most motivating. Just running a $10 billion company may not be that meaningful to someone compared with achieving that lifestyle, for example. So, for these people, the ultimate goal may be the lifestyle. Then, working backwards, it becomes clear that they’ll need to own a $10 billion company to achieve that lifestyle, and so on.
Regardless of what motivates the person, the key is to set a long-term goal and then start working towards it today.
Andrew Laurie is an entrepreneur, CEO, and elite business coach.