I prefer not to have a five-year plan.
In entrepreneurship today, this feels like a cardinal sin. People want to know exactly what you see for myself and my business, every year, for the next five.
But there is a big problem with plans: they are not reliable. Planning means thinking about the future, which for entrepreneurs is synonymous with worrying.
Being totally honest with you, I do not know what I will want five years from now, let alone in two or three years. Of course, I want success, but I am practicing being okay with not knowing at the same time.
To worry about the future causes suffering. What are we to do instead? We must build up our confidence in trusting our instinct by focusing on the present.
The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma
Entrepreneurship is filled with self-doubt; it requires a thick skin so that you can roll with the punches.
So doesn’t it make sense to have a plan to reassure yourself?
In my opinion, it doesn’t. And here’s why: your plan will change. When you fail to hit a milestone, your inner critic will consider you to be a failure.
Entrepreneurship is a roller coaster of soaring highs and terrible lows. Beating yourself up for missing an arbitrary deadline or plan is not just unnecessary, it’s unhealthy.
So what about the alternative, getting a regular job?
Jobs invite security and look like a solid plan on the surface. Working hard your whole career for the same company was a mantra that many generations could count on.
Large companies, however, are subject to market forces that they cannot control. You can lose your job without warning, and therefore this “plan” is not secure, but only gives the illusion of security.
So hyper-long term plans aren’t much use whether you’re an entrepreneur, or working for someone else. But there is a technique we can use instead. What is it?
Let’s find out.
Presence and Confidence
Everything starts with a story and knowing yours is essential. Being my boss was like an insatiable itch; from early on in my life and then career, I simply wanted to create.
I built a t-shirt company, True Rivalry, and was determined to succeed. I received a thousand more “no’s” than “yeses”. All it took was one “yes”, however, for the business to take off.
A big benefit to knowing my story comes in the form of confidence. I know what I’ve done to get to this point, which means I need not worry about the future. I can focus on today instead.
The key to success is to focus on the next twenty-four hours. I ask myself, “How can I do my best in this short time-frame?” The beautiful thing is that come tomorrow, I have the opportunity to do it all over again.
But here’s where it gets interesting. Repeating this process gives you more life experience. And focusing on short-term successes creates confidence far quicker than fulfilling a 5-year plan ever could.
Because of my experience failing and then succeeding with True Rivalry, and now building JPORT Media, I am growing more comfortable with not knowing the long game, or even needing to know. I built two businesses, and I know that I can land on my feet. You can sum up my philosophy like so: With more life experience comes the ability to trust your gut.
The great thing is, you’ve probably been developing this skill longer than you realize. You most likely have failed at something else previously, like a test or a high school sports game, and can draw on those experiences for strength. And I am sure that you can think of at least one person you know who is an entrepreneur, someone who relies on their intuition and instinct to make their decisions.
Trusting your gut allows not only flexibility but also for you to get your product to the market quickly. So many people have great ideas, yet much fewer follow through and make their ideas reality. Those who have cultivated their intuition know that not every idea will be a hit. But these people are relentless and at some point, do succeed.
Having goals with your business ideas is excellent. But worrying about the future will not allow you to be present. You will miss out on what is happening in the here and now, like the growth of your marriage or your family.
Here are my 3 key takeaways for you:
1 – Trust your gut more. You will be amazed at the flexibility that this creates for you and how you can move forward efficiently.
2 – Think more in the short-term than the long-term. We can plan all that we want, and life will still find ways to surprise us.
3 – Don’t let the beauty of being alive right now be crushed by your worry about the future. Staying present will allow you to make the most of any situation. Difficulties are bound to arise. Why create anxiety about something that has not yet happened?
I’ll leave you with a quote from one of the greats:
“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”– Abraham Lincoln.