A five year plan should look at the next five years of one’s life, and plan out the goals for that time on both a large and small scale. For instance, the large goals or long-term could be “getting promoted to manager” under the career sub-heading, or “paying off my car loan” under the financial section.
Some people may have more concentrated goals, and working on a variety of elements of their life, they may work on one very intensely–like starting a new business, getting healthy, finishing school etc. Having a five year plan can help you focus your goals, understand what parts of your life you want to develop, and make daily choices a little easier to make.
This plan could include goals that are related to your current job or a job you want to have. These plans are great to create while still in your last year of school so that you know what kind of internship to look for, or what kinds of companies you want to keep your eye on after graduation. Small goals could include creating a list of those companies, updating your resume so it’s ready to send out for internship or entry-level jobs, and drafting some cover letters.
The small goals should add up or work towards whatever your long-term goal is–if you want to be an editor at a publishing company, then you could incorporate more reading into your daily routine. Attending conventions or expos in your desired field can also expand your horizons and knowledge-base, as well as providing excellent networking opportunities. Making sure you attend them prepared with copies of your resume and business cards with contact information can really maximize the results.
Most people are familiar with a “bucket list”. This is a list of achievements or experiences that you feel you need to have before you die. Bucket list goals are great to focus on if you’re not sure what your other long-term goals might be yet. This might include seeing all the movies on the AFI Top 100 list, taking the perfect road trip, learning a new language or skill, or experiences like sky diving, climbing a mountain etc. Even taking a look at your bucket list items might help you focus your five year plan or decide where to go with your career. Taking a writers retreat or going on vacation somewhere specific might help with that focus as well.
These goals are especially important to those of us with student loans. Perhaps this could be a plan to avoid taking out the loans in the first place, or plans on how to pay them down aggressively after school is over, or building up your savings so that once your loans go into repayment. Scheduling classes around part time work on campus, at a restaurant or the local mall could all help pay as you go. Making sure you are aware of how much debt you have is an important step in this plan, but always know that no matter how well you plan, unexpected expenses always come up. Your car could break down, you might have to go to the hospital, or there could be layoffs at the job you were counting on. Saving extra or knowing who to rely on when these unexpected expenses pop up can help alleviate the stress and pressure of dealing with them.
This can include meeting and choosing a partner, having or putting off having kids, planning a wedding, or buying a house for your family. Of course some of those goals must be combined with financial goals, understanding savings or loans and mortgages.These goals could include getting out and making new friends, or becoming more social by joining a team or book club. Small steps might start with finding those clubs or teams, trying out a few to decide where you fit in the best, or going out more for coffee, or drinks with friends. Finding a partner might include joining online dating sites, going to mixers or speed dating events, or talking more to people who interest you.
All five year plans should be personal, but perhaps the area you hope to improve the most is more internal. Personal plans can include fitness goals, skin care or nutrition goals, changes in your attitude or dedication to faith or spirituality. While these plans are highly personal, sometimes having a partner to work with helps you stick to your new routines. Finding a workout buddy, or someone willing to come to bible study with you, makes these classes more interesting and gives you someone to talk to about them after they’re over. These plans should include both your final goal, and the small steps you’re going to take in order to achieve said goal. If you want to lose a hundred pounds, or start teaching classes at your church, you can’t dive right in without preparing and building up your skills.
If you have a more concentrated goal, like getting a specific certification, finishing school, or starting your own business, then your five year plan should be adjusted accordingly. Instead of dabbling in different areas of your life, most elements should be focused on this big goal. If you want to become a freelance landscaper, then you should take classes to expand your skills but also learn about running your own business, as well as making sure to keep an eye on your finances. If you want to get married and start a family, then perhaps your career goals might not be as important. Some people want to be financially stable enough to quit their job and parent full-time once children are in the picture–which is often doable but you must be able to plan ahead.
No matter what your long-term goals are, there are always life changes that you can’t expect. Maybe the relationship you thought would turn to marriage and kids falls apart after college, and you have to start over. Maybe you lose the weight you were hoping for and it changes your career goals to include teaching fitness classes or owning your own gym.
There are many resources online that can help you decide what your plan should include and how to organize it–breaking it down into monthly, weekly or even daily steps you should be taking. The most important thing to remember, however, is that this is your plan. If you start on a plan and decide it’s not what you want anymore, don’t be afraid to start over on something new.