Sunday, June 14, 2015

5 years of glowing and evolving... and how to Make a 5 Year Plan

It's hard to believe... but we are celebrating the 5th year anniversary for Baum-kuchen this month. 

We have heard from many people that  5 years is a milestone for a business. If you can survive the first five years..., you might be able to go for another five. I am so thankful for our last five years (both ups and downs...) and truly hope that we get to have a go at another five years and more with our Baum-kuchen. 

In last five years I wrote nearly 1000 blog posts, opened our first online store, did a series of pop-up shop at local markets (remember those 5 am set up at Rose Bowl Flea Market??), and moved out of our living room/garage operating shop into a real brick & mortar shop/studio. We are continuing to share more artifacts we love with so many amazing customers around the world, are constantly inspired by a creative community locally as well as virtually... and let's not forget that we have become a family of four. 

Frido and I constantly talk about the idea of 5 Year Plan (more like 5 year dream to my mind) so I looked back my old journals and things I wrote down 5-6 years ago on my "5 year plan" (like "opening a shop" and bunch more). 

As we pass this 5 year milestone this month, I asked Frido to share how to craft an authentic 5 Year Plan. I hope you can take away some ideas from his advise and apply to your today and tomorrow. Because we really do believe that dream happens when we set our minds to it (and write it down on your favorite notebook:) 

p.s. I promise I will do another story about what is currently on my 5 Year Plan for Baum-kuchen soon... xo


How to Make a 5 Year Plan by Fridolin Beisert
To get started in the creation of a 5 year plan it is important to understand the difference between a goal and a planA goal is a specific target that you want to accomplish and a plan is the way in which you will reach that goal. For example if your dream is to own a coffee shop then technically this would be your goal. The way that you would go about realizing that dream (such as mastering the craft of coffee brewing, finding a suitable location and funding, buying the equipment, etc.) would constitute as the actual plan. Since these two terms are inseparable I will refer to them collectively as being part of the 5 Year Plan.
tip 1: Set precise goals
The first step in creating a 5 year plan for yourself is to set precise goals instead of vague ones. A vague goal is difficult to achieve because you can not easily measure when you have reached it. When I ask my students about their goals 5 years from now (post-graduation) I often get responses such as: I want to work for a big company and be able to travel. This would be an example of a vague goal. We go through a process of Vision Calibration which is one of the strategies that I teach in my creativity class at Art Center. In that process we ask why? to reach more conclusive answers. This often unveils much more distinct motives that we use to set more precise goals.
For example, some students want to work for a big company because they want to spend the first few years after graduation to pay off their loans. Others want to work for a big company for the personal growth opportunity that they see. We calibrate their goals accordingly to reflect these new insights.
tip 2: Ask why
Likewise, we look at the second part of the response (“…and be able to travel) and ask the same why? question to get to the core of their goal. Here the responses can again vary greatly. Some have never been outside of the country (and would like to live in Europe) while others like to experience new places (and would like to travel on business).
The insights that are gained help them in finding exactly which kind of companies they would be targeting and more importantly how to strategically build their portfolio and work experience towards the position that they want to obtain.
Setting very precise goals are vital to help in crafting a great 5 year plan as they allow you to know exactly where you are heading. 
tip 3: Reach for "little" more
The second step is to set goals that are slightly out of reach. Again, when I do this exercise with my students I often get responses such as I am planning to graduate and start working. For most students (unless there are special circumstances in place) this will happen automatically and thus it is not necessary to have that as part of their plan.
To help them discover their true goals I ask them: What is your vision for your future, 5 years from now? This unlocks responses such as I want to have my own business that designs and sells lifestyle products or I want to be lead interior designer for private jets. Keep in mind that we often go through a few rounds of iteration to reach a goal that is truly reflective of their own personal vision. Also, 5 years is far away enough to have big dreams yet close enough to actually make them reality.
There are often a few variables to consider in crafting a great 5 year plan. You need to decide if the plan is focused only on your current career or if it involves switching careers. You also need to think about personal versus professional goals. All of these considerations become important when it comes to setting priorities in life that can get you closer to your goals.
tip 4: Focus on what steers you closer to your goals
Generally speaking, to start implementing your 5 year plan only do what steers you closer to your goals. If you are like most people, your current schedule is magically filled with all sorts of obligations, all with different priorities attached. There is often very little or no time left. Try to identify what is most important and least important to you in your current schedule. Then, replace the least important tasks with steps that will get you closer to your goals.
Take classes and workshops that relate to your plan, identify and talk to people that are currently doing what you are interested in, read books and articles on your topics and actively pursue your dreams.
tip 5: Keep your "day job"
One last thought: Keep your day job until you are ready to make a big change in life. It is a 5 year plan which is plenty of time to make big changes. Do start with the implementation right away though. If you are dreaming of that coffee shop: Make coffee. See if you like doing it. See if your friends like tasting it. Offer it as your contribution to the next fundraiser. Have a small booth at the local farmers market. Get feedback from customers and make your product better. Open a small permanent stall within an existing business. Open your own business. 
By doing so you will find a way to turn your 5 year plan into your reality! GOOD LUCK!
text by Fridolin Beisert / Creative Strategies


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