I'm going put on my career coach hat and ask you to answer one of the most dreaded job interview questions.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I used to help clients answer that question in workshops every week. No one likes it.
Most people will tell you they don't know what they're going to be doing next month, let alone five years from now.
Still, I'm going to challenge you to answer the question thoughtfully.
"But wait," you say, "I'm not job searching. I'm trying to build a craft business!"
You are a business owner, and as a business owner, you alone are in charge of actively cultivating the direction of your company. If you can't see where your company will be in five years, then no one is actively directing the growth of your business. How will you make smart business decisions if you don't know what you are trying to achieve?
Far too many craft business owners fail to ask themselves where they want their business to be over the medium and long term. It's easy to get caught up in the daily tasks of running a business and never develop any larger goals.
Setting goals is crucial.
Goal setting equals planning and preparing for success. Without goals, you have nothing more than a general dream or hope for the future. Goals give you a clear roadmap outlining exactly where you want to go and how you're going to get there.
Effective goals let you see where you want to be over time, so you can lay the right fundamental groundwork and be prepared to take advantage when great opportunities come along.
Success doesn't happen overnight. If you know where you want to be in a year, or three years, or five years, little by little, every day, you can build on all of the skills you'll need to have when the time comes to grab ahold of opportunities.
This kind of success will appear seamless to anyone looking in from the outside. It will likely look as though you're spectacularly lucky. But, in fact, you will know you have been diligently working toward it all along, over time.
What, exactly am I talking about?
Here's a real-life example of how goal setting can help you make dreams a reality.
I have a wonderful friend who currently works as a career coach at a university. She's about five years away from retiring. In her dream retirement, she would be working in a flower shop in Spain.
She knows all about plants. Before she became a career coach, she was a horticulturalist, and she is currently an avid gardener. She's my go-to person when I don't know what to do with plants in my back yard, and she clearly loves it.
In her current work, she deals with a range of students every day. She's very good at talking with people, assessing their needs, and helping them. She'd do a great job helping customers in a charming little shop.
She has everything in place to be well suited for a retirement job in a flower shop.
But she wants to live and work in Spain, and she doesn't know Spanish!
The last time we got together, she told me she had started working on learning Spanish. It's the last major skill she needs to develop to achieve her dream retirement.
The thought of working in a charming flower shop in Spain sounds like a lovely, romantic dream. But, for my friend, it's more than a dream. It's a goal.
She's laying the groundwork now to make sure she has all of the skills she'll need in a few years to make it happen.
Valuable skills that set you apart and help you achieve your goals typically build slowly, over time. Because my friend knows where she wants to be in five years, she's able to work now to put in place everything she'll need to make her dream a reality in a few years.
When she does move to Spain and start working at a charming flower shop, it will look like a stroke of good luck to people on the outside. But, to those of us who know about her goal and see the steps she's taking to lay the foundation, it will look like the culmination of a well thought out and well executed plan.
If you want to have the same opportunity to achieve your home business goals five, or even ten years into the future, then, today, you need to challenge yourself to answer the question, where do you see yourself five years from now?
You need to answer the question fully with depth and honesty, and then create a plan to make it happen.
Dreams are vague, idealized images and hopes for the future we carry in our minds. Writing down those dreams is an early, concrete step toward turning your dreams into goals that become reality.
Writing forces you to think about your aspirations. You'll start to consider and answer questions like:
Getting it in writing makes it more concrete.
It forces you to think through the reality of what it will take to make something happen. You'll confront the truth about what you need to do to make your dream real, and you'll be forced to decide whether you're really willing to commit to the sacrifices it will require.
Writing down your goals also helps you commit to them, particularly if you keep your goals written on a page you can easily refer back to on a regular basis. If you look back at your written goals frequently, you will regularly assess whether you are doing what it takes to move forward.
I've been tracking my own goals in writing in a Bullet Journal. I have business goals for social media posting and article writing, and I have personal goals for managing my home and getting 10,000 steps each day. These are the kinds of goals that require small daily tasks to build into something larger over time.
I'm working on some goals quite consistently, and with others, I'm having trouble keeping up. Tracking them daily, in writing, forces me to regularly and honestly confront my progress. It provides me with information that helps me to improve when I'm not meeting my targets.
You can't lie to yourself when you have your goals in writing and you track your progress in writing.
If you take the time to clarify your long term goals, and write down, revise, revisit, and assess your progress, it will help keep you moving forward. You'll see problems as they arise, and ensure you're moving in the right direction while you take care of the day-to-day needs of your business and your life.
If you're convinced you need to determine where you see yourself in five years and commit your goals in writing, you're ready for the next steps: