Info-entrepreneurs, represented by the Association of Independent Information Professionals, stand out as innovative, forward thinking, and client focused information professionals. This series of posts delivers future ready solutions and strategies from current and past presidents of AIIP. As industry thought leaders they have much to share about staying ahead of the curve and delivering cost effective solutions to clients worldwide. In this insightful series of postings readers will learn how to create a job for life by listening for opportunity, watching for changes, stretching to acquire new skills, finding a balance, planning for the long term, and drawing on your strengths. — C.S.
by Marcy Phelps
At a recent meeting of the I-25ers, a group of independent information professionals located in and around Colorado, we had an interesting discussion about staying focused. We all agreed it’s really hard these days, with the many hats we wear and the ever-increasing rate of change in our lives and work, to make decisions about whether or not to take a new direction.
In my nearly 12 years of running a business, I’ve found that long-range planning is the key to developing a path and staying on track. And it’s not just for business owners. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, planning and setting goals for the next 5 to 10 years provides focus in our lives and milestones for success. It will also keep you sane.
We’re constantly juggling our varied job functions. Business owners, in addition to being researchers, knowledge managers, or consultants, also take care of an assortment of administrative, financial, marketing and other tasks on a daily basis. With cutbacks in the workplace, we’ve taken on additional roles and responsibilities – while trying to make sure our careers and our jobs are future ready. Having a long-range plan keeps you on target for each of your many roles.
It’s also easy these days to get distracted by the latest new toy or way of thinking. Technology develops at an ever-increasing rate, and ideas spread in an instant. It’s difficult to know what you should or should not pursue. Your long-range plan becomes a measure for how it all fits in with your life and your goals.
Long-range planning requires some time to think about where you want to go and how you’re going to get there. Block out a morning or afternoon, shut off email and other distractions, and find a place to work where you’ll be most creative.
Here are some tips for getting started with developing your personal and professional long-range plan:
Think big – It’s OK if you don’t reach all your goals. Go ahead and dare to dream. Visualize what you want your life to look like in 5 to 10 years. What kind of work do you want to do? At what level do you see your business or career?
Think about how to get from here to there – Consider what skills, resources, etc. you need to accomplish your goals. Should you take a class, join an association, hire a coach, or sign up for mentoring? What will it cost to carry out your plan, and how will you pay for it?
Put it in writing – Don’t ask me why, but there’s something about committing something to paper (yes, pen and paper!) that sets things in motion. Trust me on this. When confronted by something new, take out your plan and see if it aligns with where you want to be and what you want to become.
Stay flexible – While your goals keep you on track, be open to new opportunities. You can’t plan for those out-of-the-blue job offers or disruptive technologies (who knew five years ago that we’d be tweeting with clients?). Again, use your plan as a guide.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this Future Ready 365 blog, it’s that we are the ones who control our futures. It just takes a little planning to get on the right path and to stay focused. The investment you make now will pay off in the future.
Marcy Phelps is the owner of Phelps Research, a provider of research and analysis to support business planning. She served as the AIIP 2009-2010 President and is the current Chair of SLA’s Advertising and Marketing Division.