So, you’ve reached a crossroads. You’re not sure where to go next, but you know you’re not happy with the direction you are currently travelling in.
Creating a five-year plan is a great way to give your life direction and help you start making changes that reflect your life ambitions.
It may sound daunting, but this effective tool will help you re-find your life’s purpose when you’re feeling lost and unsure.
In this post, I will guide you through the steps you need to take to find the five-year plan that works for you.
Benefits of a Five-year Plan
There are a number of benefits to using a five-year plan, including:
- Clarity of goals.
- Measurable targets.
- Creating a clear action plan.
- Reducing stress through clarity.
- Increased chance of success
Creating a Five-year Plan
1. It starts with you
Before beginning your plan, it’s time for a bit of introspection. How can you know where you want to go if you aren’t true to who you are right now?
It may sound daunting to get vulnerable and work out who you are and what you want in life, but it is the crucial first step in creating your plan.
It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers right now, but it is vital to dig deep and get as many as possible.
This means asking yourself what your passions are. Your desires. Your hopes for the future. And the why. Because without that important “why”, you’ll find it hard to follow through on your plans.
If you are struggling with this step, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- What matters most to me?
- If money wasn’t an issue, what would I do as a job?
- What am I good at that I also enjoy?
- How do I feel about my current relationships?
- Is there anything I want to improve in myself?
- Do all these answers come from what I want, or am I being swayed by outside influence?
Once you are clear on where you are currently and what you want for your life, you can move on to the next step.
2. Making your goals
Choose three to five big goals based on your answers in the first step.
Make sure they are specific and realistic. For example, if you choose a goal like winning the lottery or having a sleepover in Buckingham palace, this isn’t exactly realistic, is it? Make sure it is something within your means to achieve in the next five years.
Start each goal with “in five years...” This gives you a timeframe to work with and a trajectory for the next five years of your life. Make sure to include your “why” in your goal to keep you motivated on the harder days.
3. Five years is a long time
Okay, so you now have the themes you want to centre your journey on with your goals.
But as we all know, there is no success without movement. So we need to get specific about the types of action we need to take so we find ourselves where we want to be in five years.
But five years is a long way away, and it’s hard to stay focused so far in the future. That’s why it is crucial to break down your goals into smaller chunks.
So, now it’s time to think of your year-one plans.
What can you realistically achieve by the end of this year that will get you closer to your five-year goal?
And more importantly, how will you achieve your first-year goal? What actions do you need to take that will allow you to reach it?
Do this for each of your goals. Focus on the first year and the milestones you need to hit along the way to get there. Be as specific as you can. The more you can zone in on your goals, the more likely you are to succeed.
4. Breaking it down further
Truth-bomb time. The real secret to any goal isn’t hitting a hole in one; it’s all about the small, consistent actions you take every single day to move you forward. The habits you create represent the person you want to be. The person that aligns with who you truly are as a person inside.
You know what you want to achieve in a year, and you know what milestones you need to hit to do so.
Now is the time to focus on this month. What is a realistic goal to set yourself for the end of the first month that will move you closer to your five-year goal? What small actions can you repeat daily that will become helpful habits on your journey?
Break your goal down into the smallest possible block and start from there. It is much better to start slow and build a habit than to try and do too much too soon, feel discouraged and give up.
So, if your five-year goal is to run a marathon, your first month’s actions may be to buy running trainers and put them on at a specific time every training day. You don’t have to train just yet. Just create the habit of putting the trainers on.
Does this seem too simple? Yes. But that’s the point. It’s about proving to your brain that you can achieve your goals. Start too fast, and you’ll face plant at the first hurdle. Start slow, and you’ll last the distance.
So, spend time working out the smallest component you can start with and make a one-month plan for your goals.
As you gain new habits and progress, your goals and actions will eventually advance.
5. Five-year plans require regular revision
You’ve created your monthly, yearly and five-year goal plan, congratulations! But your work is not done. One of the most ignored features of a goal is to review your progress and adjust your actions as you go.
Ideally, make a quick review of your progress daily or weekly (whichever works best with your schedule) and then do a bigger review of “want went well”, and “even better if”, at the end of each month.
This should coincide with creating your goal for the next month based on how the previous month went. A goal is an ever-evolving entity, and you should react to your journey rather than staying rigid on your goal. Change what isn’t working and adjust where necessary.
This way, you are much more likely to follow through on this journey to a happier you.
Five-year Plan Template
So you know the benefits of using a five-year plan, and also what to think of when creating one, but how will you format this? We’ve created an easy to read template that you could print out or keep on your computer for reference.
Download the Five Year Plan template here.
Simply fill in the targets for each year, from 1 to 5.Remember, whatever your five-year goal is, don’t forget:
It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey, so enjoy the views and learn the lessons life has to offer you on the way.
Why not track your five year plan as you go along in one of our beautifully crafted My Five Year Story Journals. A wonderful way to reflect over the five years, see what you've accomplished and how far you've come.