Do you start your annual planning now? When you begin, do you first look at last year’s goals and results and adopt the same or a revised version for the coming year?  Do you figure out the year-end milestones for projects and set your target there, even though the project ends four months later?

Do you look out two years (or more) to crystallize a longer view?

I was with a team last week, building a team purpose, shared accountabilities, stakeholder maps…and, of course, goals. I was struck by a common theme at the end of the meeting. The longer-term goal work was “useful, interesting, and provocative.”  While challenging because who knows what’s possible or what might change between now and then, it’s an energizing activity for really smart people.

It’s so easy to keep our heads down and build the plan out for the next calendar year. But, the best results don’t usually occur from January 1st through December 31st. The best, most empowering results occur over multiple years.

There are at least three concrete benefits from taking the time to think forward:

  1. Your goals are likely to be bigger and bolder, creating new energy.
  2. You can more easily “pull the thread” backward from future to this year’s goals, ensuring you are getting the right things done.
  3. Capabilities that are required will be more evident, allowing you to acquire of build those capabilities before you need them.

After my work with the team, I pulled out my 10-year strategic plan (yes, I’m a nut about planning).  I made some adjustments, reminded myself of some work that is not fully underway, and felt energized by the long-view.

Is it time for you to start looking out to the future?