This is one my very favorite questions. This question comes from the Strategic Coach program. It’s something all their participants learn to ask very early in the program.
The question: “If we were to get together 3 years from now, what would have had to have happened over that time frame for you to feel like you’ve been successful?”
Don’t answer to quickly.
I know you want to start answering this question right away. You want to tell me the answer with the first thing that pops into your mind.
I’m going to ask you to hold off on the answer. I would like you to think about what it is that’s really important and three years later you can look back with pride. It doesn’t have to be about work, it could be a hobby or something to do with your family. There are no rules about what the “correct” answer is.
Next, find out why your answer is important.
When you’ve taken your time and come up with what you think is a good answer here’s step two: Ask the question why. Ask why this particular thing is important for you to accomplish.
After you’ve answered why once, ask it again and keep asking it at least five times. When you get to a core answer you need to go back and look at the answer to your three-year question. Does the answer to the question mesh with what your original answer is? I bet you just might find that the two don’t fit together very well.
What if your answer doesn’t fit in with your why?
I see this a lot. The first answer to the question doesn’t fit in with the answer to why. Believe it or not, the answer to why is a lot more important than what your first answer is to the three-year question.
Now that you’ve spent time on answering why, go back and revisit the three-year question. Once again ask yourself, “If we were to get together three years from now, what would have had to happen for you to feel like you’ve been successful?” I wouldn’t be surprised if your answer is at least a little different.
Share the final answer with everyone you know.
You’ve now put a fair amount of work into answering your question. You should be pretty satisfied with your answer as well as why your answer is the right one. Now it’s time for you to share this answer with everyone you know.
I’ve learned that I’ve never gotten anywhere without help from others. I bet you’ve learned this also. Sharing what it is that has to happen helps others get on your team. It helps them hold you accountable for the steps that you’re going to have to take.
Put a system in place to track your progress.
Until now you haven’t really done anything. You’ve answered some questions and yes, they are important questions but until you take action, it’s only stuff that’s running around in your head.
I think it would be a great idea if you wrote down the answer to your three-year question, added why it’s important, and then put a system in place to track your progress. When you track your progress you get to make adjustments along the way.
I can promise you one thing. The road from where you are today to where you want to be three years from now won’t be a straight one. You’ll be thrown some curve balls and you’ll get some help from quarters you didn’t expect. Having a clear starting point and tracking your progress are tools that you can use to keep moving forward.
Are you willing to take the plunge? This entire exercise should take you no more than a couple of hours. It might just be the best two hours you’ve ever spent.
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