The Power of Foresight: Why Planning Ahead Is the Most Important Part of Long-Term Success

Without knowing where to go you will never arrive there

Did you know that successful chess grandmasters often plan their moves 10 or more steps ahead, showcasing the power of foresight in achieving victory?

As some people say life is like playing chess. It’s a little more complicated but it’s also about making moves, making decisions, and reacting based on the moves of other people.

We tend to be motivated by immediate satisfaction:

  • good entertainment by watching Netflix
  • chocolate if we are in a bad mood
  • drinking coffee or Coke to boost ourselves
  • spending money immediately on “things you deserve because you worked hard”

These bad habits can be prevented:

  • By planning ahead.
  • By not even having the option for immediate satisfaction.
  • By having a vision of long-term success.

Before we go ahead I want to remind you that nobody is perfect. And you can still have immediate satisfaction and bad habits.

That’s ok.

But don’t we all want to improve our lives and want to be successful?

Then we have to change something!

Planning ahead and following that plan is the key to it.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”

Benjamin Franklin

Start with Figuring Out What Success is for You

Before starting to plan you actually have to figure out what your goal is and what your successful life looks like.

Take a moment and write down your perfect day in the future when you achieved your goal.

Make the vision as vivid as possible with people, smells, feelings, and conversations.

If this is hard for you, then start the other way around: What do you not want to do in your successful life?

That’s usually easier.

Depending on what kind of visual person you are you can write down a vision statement or create one with pictures. 

With visualizing your goals and dreams you will trick your mind into thinking you are already there.

I know what you think now: it’s not possible to get rich or successful only through thinking! That is true!

But the first step is to change your mindset and your thoughts. If you don’t believe you can achieve your goals then you actually never will.

By keeping your goal in mind and establishing a positive mindset toward it you will see:

  • opportunities to achieve your goals
  • connections with people you can use
  • solutions instead of problems
  • learning moments instead of problems

Because you can change the way you see the world and life.

You cannot change the world and what is happening outside of you. But you can change how you see interpret and perceive the world.

And this is why visualization and a change of mindset is a big part of success.

“Hold a picture of yourself long and steadily enough in your mind’s eye, and you will be drawn toward it.”

Napoleon Hill

Analyze Your Goal

Goals based on SMART

Now that you know what you want to achieve and what it looks like I want you to figure out the details.

First, there is bad and good goal setting.

A bad one is: someday I want to have my own boat.

You can go and buy a boat tomorrow. Not a good one, but you didn’t say that.

A good goal is based on the acronym SMART:

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Attainable
  • R = Realistic
  • T = Time-bound

Let’s specify the boat goal with more details:

“I want to have my own [insert specific model number] yacht which costs 300000€ to be in the harbor of Monaco on my 40th birthday.”

It’s specific, it can get measured, you can achieve it, it’s realistic and you have a time when you want to have it.

Analyze your goal based on the SMART tool and also research what you have to do to get to your goal. Find rules, restrictions, or fees you have to stick to.

For example, one of my goals is to become an architect. In Austria, to get that title and to plan my own projects, I have to have a Bachelor’s, Master’s, 3 years of work experience, and then I have to do a big exam. Those are the rules and I have to follow them to achieve my goal.

After you finished specifying your goals, you continue to do the actual planning.

“A goal without a plan is only a dream.” 

Brian Tracy

Planning Ahead Every Step

This is a hard part because you don’t know what the future holds.

Be prepared to stay flexible with your steps and also your goals.

To start the action as fast as possible, we have to plan the steps we have to take.

  • Research what you need for your future job.
  • What skills do you have to learn?
  • What habit changes do you have to do to become your future self?
  • What kind of person do I have to become to get the people I want and need in my future perfect day?
  • What parts of my perfect day can I already add tomorrow to my daily routine?

Maybe you can find a role model who did what you want to do already and you can take the same steps at the beginning. Don’t just copy the entire process because it’s never the same.

As soon as you know what skills you need to have for your dream life, you can start improving and learning every day.

Investing in yourself and your future is always the best investment.

Write down all the steps you figured out you need to do. Put them in a calendar based on when you should do them. 

Evaluate the steps based on things you can and cannot change. If you want to open a company with your friends, worst case they don’t want to anymore or they are terrible to work with. 

Be aware of the possibilities of unexpected circumstances to plan alternative steps if changes happen.


Of course, there is more to say and figure out but this could take an entire book.

In the end, a lot of people ask: what then?

I know what my future self looks like but I don’t know how to start or how to make the steps.

My answer:

  • Start small
  • Improve everyday
  • Consistently take steps by implementing habits
  • And then don’t stop!

Even though planning is a big part of success, don’t get lost in it. Too much planning is a waste of time.

Just like visualizing your goal will not make it true, only planning also doesn’t.

It’s important to figure out the first small steps and then you can take action. 

Action and then consistently working on your goals will make you successful. By planning ahead you will know which steps to take and when. This will help you to overcome procrastination and to make well-thought decisions.

“I accumulated small but consistent habits that ultimately led to results that were unimaginable when I started.” 

James Clear

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(c) Karina Ahrer

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