Do you have a 5 year plan or do you think it’s a waste of time?. When you read this, you’ll see exactly why it’s such a great idea that can really change how you live.
Let me ask you a couple of questions…
When you look back to 5 years ago – where did you think you’d be right now?
Are you where you wanted to be now from 5 years ago?
Do you even know where you wanted to be 5 years ago?
This may be really hard to answer – as we change so much in 5 years.
Unless you are really aware of what you want in life, you’ll more than likely get bogged down with the day to day routine, and the bigger things just get tackled as and when they come up (if at all).
You’ll just end up somewhere, whether you wanted to be there or not…
Here’s a quick example –
A family has to move house, as they have recently found out they are expecting a child and their home is just not big enough for them any longer. Moving wasn’t in the plan, so they haven’t saved a deposit and will end up paying a larger mortgage than they may have needed to if they had known they would be moving. This will make it harder for the mum to be off work for as long as she’d ideally have liked. They have just redecorated their current home and now that money has been wasted when it could have been put towards the new house instead. If only they’d thought ahead a little more….
Not having a plan is a very REACTIVE way to live – and a 5 year plan changes all that so you can be PROACTIVE and take back control.
THE BENEFITS OF A 5 YEAR PLAN
Creating a 5 year plan can pay dividends for where you end up after that time.
- It helps to create focus on what your priorities are
- It helps you say no to things that won’t help you reach your goals
- It shows you where you need to change things, what’s possible etc…. so you don’t end up overwhelmed and unable to achieve it all
- It gives you motivation to get where you want to go.
- It helps you track each year whether you are on course, whether things need to change to another course – and you can take control properly
- You’re more likely to achieve what you want if you are planning to get there…
Of course, there will always be things that crop up unexpectedly – that’s life – but on the whole, the major life changes and the smaller ones too, can be tracked and achieved with some forward planning.
SO, HOW DO YOU CREATE A 5 YEAR PLAN?
5 years is a great amount of time to look at at a high level at your life.
It’s not too far in the distance, but far enough for larger things to be achieved.
To get a 5 year plan that works for you, what I suggest is to get a picture in your head of the life you want to be living in 5 years time, and then set small targets/goals along the way that are manageable for how you live.
STEP ONE – GET A PICTURE IN YOUR HEAD
Be as detailed as you possibly can. Dream a little, but also be realistic. You may be surprised at how much can be achieved in this time frame though…
Ask yourself some questions (I always relate things back to the 5 areas of life “S.M.I.L.E” to ensure balanced plans) such as:-
- Will I be in a relationship?
- What will my social life be like?
- MANAGING THE HOME
- Where will I live?
- What will the division of housework be?
- What will I be responsible for?
- What will the family look like? (children / pets / extended family etc…)
- What do I want from my working life? Be my own boss, start a business, work for someone else, stay at home mum etc….
- Where will the household income come from?
- What will my free time involve?
- Do I want to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill?
- How will I look/feel?
- Will I be doing things for others? Charity / Volunteering / Caring for others etc….
You get the idea!
I find that making this into a picture in your mind can really help to identify what’s important to you – and one way of doing this is to literally create a physical picture!
There are a couple of ways to do this that work really well: –
- If you have a Pinterest account this is a great way to do it as you can pin any images from around the web that inspire you – and create your own virtual board.
- Another way to do it is to simply cut and stick images from magazines and catalogues – use a large piece of card and get creative.
Once you’ve got your inspiration then you can clearly see where you are heading.
You now have a long term plan to aim for – and more clarity over what’s important to you.
This is an amazing way to identify the priorities in your life as well – as you may think of loads of things you want to have achieved within the next 5 years – but some will clearly stick out as more important to you than others.
For instance – you may be a stay at home mum presently – and your 5 year plan may include going back to work, or even starting up your own business so that you can work from home and around the school run.
Or you may have put on weight over the past few years, and your 5 year goal is to lose a certain amount of weight and get fit again.
Or possibly you may want to have started a family, moved house, moved country, changed your current job etc….
The list really is endless – but your 5 year plan will probably have some big life changes within it.
STEP TWO – SET SMALLER MANAGEABLE GOALS ALONG THE WAY
Of course, without any “doing”, you won’t get to where you want to get. It’s not a magic trick, and it does require work on your behalf, but it’s SO worth it.
- I always get a large piece of paper and split it up into 5 sections – 1 for each year of the plan.
- On the bottom – write down what your planned goals are.
- Then, work out what steps you need to have done to get to where you want to be. Some things may be dependant on others, and some may already have specific timeframes attached to them. Be as specific as possible, and give yourself the smallest tasks possible (this is because small tasks can more easily fit into your time and larger ones will almost always be pushed aside once day to day life takes over).
- Lastly – add in a timeline for each task so that you get things done within those 5 years – and then ADD THESE DATES TO YOUR DIARY. Only scheduled things get done in life – NEVER leave to a TO DO list alone, as this is not a proactive way to get things done if you have a timeline around them.
Let me give you an example: –
Your 5 year plan may be to have moved house, had a baby and left work.
They would need to be done in a certain order – probably 1. MOVE HOME, 2. LEAVE WORK (MATERNITY LEAVE), 3. HAVE A BABY
Your high level plan would look like this: –
- YEAR ONE – Get house ready for selling – declutter, do DIY jobs etc… and save for the move
- YEAR TWO – Look to sell and move at the end of this year.
- YEAR THREE – Save as much as possible for leaving work – budget well so you can enjoy maternity leave without money worries
- YEAR FOUR – Carry on saving and leave work just before having a baby
- YEAR FIVE – Be on maternity leave, and go back to work by the end of the year
Obviously this is all dependant on you and your life, but you get the idea!
You can go even further and set monthly tasks etc.. – and you can start to see that things are possible, or identify where there may be issues.
For example, you may really want to have a baby in 2 years from now, but you can see that you won’t be ready financially – so you may want to rethink moving house.
It’s so freeing to be able to see an overview of your life, and really start to work towards what you want – and I really hope that you enjoy making your plans!
KNOW THAT THINGS CHANGE…
There’s one last thing to note though – NOTHING IS SET IN STONE.
What you may want in 5 years now may completely change by next year.
For instance – you may not have wanted a family as yet, you may not even know your future partner – but things happen and you may meet someone and be married by next year – and your plans may now include starting a family sooner than you had previously thought.
Of course your long term plans will have to adapt to fit into your change of life.
What your 5 year plan does though is it gives you a sense of focus.
You may have to put some plans on hold only for a few years, and change your expectations somewhat – but keeping a track of your 5 year plan will keep your focus on what’s what.
ARE YOUR 5 YEAR PLANS IN SYNC?
I can’t write a post about plans without considering the other people in your life though.
Remember to share this with your partner if you have one – or anyone who you share your life with – as it’s crucial that your goals are complementary (no good you striving for living abroad in 5 years time if your husband is assuming you are going to be in the UK and has a career progression planned that means he can’t move elsewhere – you will never both achieve what you want and this could cause resentment further down the line).
Keep talking, and you should be able to agree on things…
Creating your 5 year plan (and sharing it with those closest to you) is the first step to achieving what you want from life – whatever it may be…
Why not have a go today and see where your imagination takes you – there are no limits and you may just surprise yourself with what you find yourself wanting – how exciting!