Awesome You Be


   

Petro Taljaard

How to Make Your Five Year Plan

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

If you are not entirely happy with where you are in life just now; if you want to grow; if you want to achieve more in the future, I suggest you draw up a five year plan for yourself. It's a great way to work out what you want and how to get it.

A five year plan is precisely what it sounds like, it includes a vision of where you would like to be in five years together with the actions you need to take to get there. The first step is to work out where you want to be in five years' time.

Where Are You Going?

Begin by identifying which life aspects that you want to change. Here are a number to consider.

Select one or more life aspects you wish to change. There is no need to limit yourself to items on this list, nor should you overwhelm yourself with life aspects to change. Five years may seem like a long time, but there is still a limit to what you might accomplish. So, choose the ones that are important to you. You can tackle the others later.

What Do You Want to Change?

Cartoon: "I used to be a banker and hated it. So, I took a course in assassination and now I'm living my dream."Once you have selected the life aspects you wish to change, you need to work out how you want to change them. It is one thing to decide you want to change your career because you are bored out of your mind and see no likelihood of advancement to a better place. It is another to figure out what you actually want to be doing.

If you are unsure, there are a couple of exercises you can do to work out where you want to go.

Job Adverts

Look at job advertisements on the web, in newspapers or elsewhere and identify jobs that look really great, jobs that you think you would really enjoy doing. Do not worry about qualifications, experience or background you may not have. We'll get to that issue in a few minutes. For now, simply focus on cool jobs that you would love to be doing.

Save those cool job adverts in a file, in bookmarks or by copying and pasting the information of each into a file. Once you've got a collection of job adverts, go through them and identify common points. What is it that interests you about the jobs? Is it the position? The work you would be doing? The travel? The nature of the company? Most likely there will identify a few trends in your selected jobs.

Go through the job adverts again and identify what you would need to do or have in order to be qualified for jobs similar to those you selected. Do you need training? Experience? A sex change? Make a list of the necessary actions. These are the things you will need to focus on acquiring over the next five years.

Who Do You Admire?

Another approach is to think about people whom you admire − or envy − and identify what it is about them that you admire. You do not even need to limit yourself to real life people. Perhaps you are impressed with a character in a novel.

Once you have identified the magic ingredients that make these people admirable, work out what you would need to do to be similarly admirable. You do not want to imitate these people, just work out what makes them special. Perhaps the people that you admire are inspiring teachers and professors. Perhaps they are own their own businesses. Perhaps they are very stylish.

Be careful about focusing on people whom you admire for their possessions. You could, of course, make your five year plan be all about earning loads of money so you can have a great house and a great car. But when you get there, you may find these are shallow achievements.

In any event, once you have worked out what it is you admire in those people, you can also work out what you would need to do to emulate their admirability. For example, if it is inspiring teachers you admire, then you should do two things.  Firstly, talk to some of the teachers and professors you admire to learn how they got to where they are and what makes them special in their professions. Secondly, work out the steps you would need to take to be in a similar position in five years or so. Probably, you will need to do some teacher training. You might also look into further education in a particular subject so that you can teach it well.

Synergies

If  you have selected more than one life aspect to work on, go through each of them in order to determine the actions you will need to take to achieve your goals in each.

Then, review them and look for any synergies. For example, it is possible that your career and financial aims are related. After all, if your aim is to be a millionaire in five years' time, chances are your career will be a key factor in achieving that aim!

Make note of the synergies.

Make It Pretty

Now go through your notes and write up a short vision of where you want to be in five years. Take your time with this step. Indeed, it would be an excellent idea to sleep on your thoughts as well as share them with others for feedback.

Once you are finished, you should have a nice goal statement of where you want to be in five years' time. It should not be long. Indeed, it might only be a single sentence. But it should be no more than a paragraph or a half dozen lines. If it is too long, go through it and decide on which aims are most important to you. If you attempt to achieve too many goals over the next few years, you run the real danger of not satisfactorily achieving any of them!

The Roadmap

Go through your goal statement one item at a time. For each goal, work out what steps you will need to take to get from where you are now to celebrating its achievement. Often these steps will be obvious. Sometimes they will not be so obvious.

If you are not clear on how to get to a particular goal, here's a method I recommend. Get a pad of sticky notes, index cards or small sheets of paper and put them on a table or other surface. Write the goal on one sheet and put it at one end of the table.

Now, just think about all the things you need to do to get to that goal. Do not worry about the order or anything. Just write one action on each sheet.

Once you have written down all of the actions you can think of, organise the actions (each on a separate sheet of paper) to make a path from you to the goal. Review the path. Are you missing anything? If so, put it on a sheet of paper and add it to the path.

Before you know it, you will have a list of the steps you need to take to achieve that particular goal in your five year plan.

Repeat this process with each goal in your five year plan. Once you are finished, take a break of a day or two. Then go through all of the actions and see how they might be combined or organised to make things easier for you.

This will take some time, but it is time invested in your improved future.

The Final Document

You are almost finished. Compile everything into a single document. Print it up and viola! You have your five year plan!

Now, get to work on making it happen. And get back to me in five years to let me know how it works out for you!

Note: this article is based on one I wrote for Report 103 some years ago. You can read the original here.

 

 

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