I have read many books on the benefits of long term planning for your future. And I do agree with some of what is written. However, most of what I have read has no academic researched support. A bold statement to make, perhaps not.
I am the world's greatest fan of making lists, setting goals and having plans. Lists help to keep us focused, help us to remember things we would otherwise forget, and help us to relax at the end of the day knowing that we have our list ready for tomorrow.
Similarly, goal setting is something that research supports. We are more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down. Doing this lodges the goals into our subconscious and gives us momentum.
Plans are different I believe, particularly long term plans. In my humble opinion, the longer the plan the greater the chance of failure. Why, because things change. I am yet to meet anyone who has stuck to a long term personal plan beyond five years.
Here is what I prefer to do;
1. Instead of having a detailed long term plan, have a long term goal. Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years?
2. Break that goal down into chunks – how am I going to achieve my goal by planning the smaller steps.
3. Make a list each quarter of how you are going to take each smaller step.
Although in theory you have still set a long term plan, you have included the flexibility to change your long term plan as things around you change. Additionally, you won’t be disappointed if you fail to adhere to your original plan.
By all means write lists, set goals, and have a long term plan. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t meet the long term plan as you planned it.