Since you're reading this post on Inc.com, I'm going to guess that you're the type of person who's motivated by shooting for the horizon. I'll bet you've already set ambitious goals and are working hard to achieve them.
However, I'm here to warn you that there's a hidden danger to having ambitious goals.
That danger isn't failure. Heck, you and both know that failure is just a pitstop on the road to success. We all know that if you're 100% committed, work hard, and consistently hone your approach, success is inevitable.
The hidden danger is this: unless you have a plan for how you'll use that success to position yourself for the next stage of your career and life, you can end up squandering your success and find yourself back at square one, or close to it.
I learned this the hard way and I'm going to share that experience with you so that you don't make the same mistake I did.
In 1994, I decided to write a bestselling business book. Was this shooting for the horizon? You betcha.
At the time I had just been laid off from a Fortune 500 firm that had screwed up so badly that its corporate name was resume poison. Everyone I'd worked with was either unemployed or (metaphorically) clinging to the deck rails as the Titanic went down.
In short, I was an out-of-work corporate drone in a down economy. A nobody, really.
Well, since you're reading this on Inc.com, you've no doubt read plenty of these up-from-the-bottom success stories, so you won't be entirely surprised that my book became a bestseller.
Hooray! But... Ooops!
There was only one problem. I had no idea how to use that success to my advantage. I had aimed for the horizon and achieved the seemingly impossible... and then flubbed the follow-through!
Just to be clear, I wasn't totally clueless. I did manage to line up some public speaking gigs, for which I was very well paid. I also parlayed the book into a pretty cool career as a writer and pundit.
However, I missed the BIG opportunity, which was to launch a consultancy based on that book and follow it up with a sequel to keep the momentum going. That could have easily propelled me into the $1m a year bracket.
Unfortunately, by the time I figured out what I should have done, it was too late. I'd lost the momentum. So badly, in fact, that it was fifteen years before I wrote another business book.
Don't let this happen to you! Learn from my mistake!
If you've got ambitious goals--and I'm sure you do--it's not enough to know that you will eventually succeed. That's a given. What's really, really important is that you must also have a solid plan in place for when you DO succeed.