Stress-Free Living: How To Make an Achievable Five-Year Plan
“If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us.”- Jim Rohn
With a new month upon us, goal setting is one of those therapeutic activities that I’ve learned to utilize in the improvement of my life. We are all full of so much potential, and the key to a happy life is to understand the value of creating your own life. By understanding that you are indeed the master of your destiny, the process of doing everything in life suddenly becomes more enjoyable. With purpose and action, you’ll be able to create amazing experiences in your life from all dimensions.
The key to all good things is to have a plan, and with the appropriate skills to achieve the goals new experiences will unfold. One of the best ways that I’ve found to structure my life is via the utilization of a five-year plan. The process of planning is a mindful exercise that becomes the guide post for the next day, month and years of your life. This plan is applicable for all phases of life. It’s always a great idea to have something to work towards.
What is a five-year plan?
Energy flows where your attention goes. By identifying a long-term strategic plan it will be possible to create the life you desire. A five year plan is the over-arching document that you create for attaining pre-specified goals. It is the ideal process to utilize to create accountability for the life that we are currently living. The interesting thing about life is that the time will pass anyway. What makes it interesting is the quality of the experiences that we gain from the flowing continuum of life. There are a few aspects of life that are universal to us all. These include: career, personal, financial goals and legacy goals. Within the five year plan, you can devise a way to ensure that you are fulfilled in all areas of your life.
The five year plan is something that you can incorporate into various formats:
You can create a portfolio in a folder, where you scrapbook your grander vision, and then have a detailed plan for the accomplishment of each goal. For instance, if you have a financial goal on your vision board, create a plan for what service you’ll offer to your organization or your clients, in order to receive the desire within your specified time frame.
Create a digital version of your five year plan. This can include a powerpoint presentation, along with an excel spreadsheet to document your progress on the action items. If you organize yourself like an organization, you’ll find that you’ll be more accountable and feel more responsible for your life.
With your own strategic document, you’ll feel like you’re really the CEO of your own life. You’ll go to work with more vigour because you’ll have more purpose. You’ll be a more intentional spouse, and you’ll also take better care of yourself because you’ll want to be healthy enough to live your wonderful life. The beauty of five years is that it is a digestible number. As you transition your life in increments of five years...you’ll feel less burdened than envisioning your entire life and its vision. Additionally you can always make changes where you see fit. Variety is always the spice of life.
Creating the perfect five-year plan
Five year plans are an interesting exercise for every one. At every phase of life you can incorporate the five year plan into your existence. If you’re just starting college, create a five year plan for graduation and settling down. If you already have a family, create a five year plan identifying where you envision you, your spouse and children to be in five years. Include everyone in the exercise and make it a family event. Families are teams, so include everyone. If you’re retired...envision exciting vacations, or do things like change your garden design and spend more time in nature. There are always new and exciting things to do at every stage of your life. Life is a daring adventure.
For your creative process:
Identify your starting point. In many circumstances, you can create the plan and it will take you a while to accomplish a few things. You can start taking action in the new month for instance. Everything resets when a new month or year starts, so it’s always a good idea to utilize time baselines such as the start of a new week or month for the accomplishment of goals.
Categories for your plan can include:
Social Activity and Relationships
Acts of Service
Identify the high priority goals for each aspect of your life. Our lives are all different, and the priorities will vary at each phase of life. You will feel the inklings for growth and change, so identify the categories that will work best for you. Identify what action items you’ll want to work on first ( e.g. saving for your home deposit, children’s college expenses, new car, insurance) and the items that would be nice to have as the next priorities in the five years.
Research your desires. From the list above, identify what it will take for you to accomplish the goals. How will you know if you’ll pre-qualify for a home loan? Is this window of time the best time to install that new gazebo? How long will it take to save and invest for your children’s education?
Create the action plan. Our brains are balanced and contain both creative and logical elements within them. Once the vision is identified, and the research is conducted, create a solid plan for the accomplishment of each goal. Much like the steps to baking a cake are sequential, such should be your action plan. Place all of these action items into a project plan and take the time to ensure that the actions are being taken to accomplish the items per unit time.
Take action. As time passes you’ll be able to see what’s possible in your goals and visions. Some items will be accomplishable in the specified time, and others might take a longer time. Re-adjust what you’ll need to readjust and then focus on the action items that can be accomplished in the current five year window.
Samples of a yearly and annual plan are highlighted below to guide you in the process of creating your own five year plan:
SAMPLE YEARLY PLAN
Year 1: Become a project lead at work. Start an online business. Gain a new certification in your field. Now is a good time to get that chartership. Start planning our wedding. Research houses to purchase in two years.
Year 2: Complete a new M&A project. Get married. Move into our new home.
Year 3: Become a portfolio manager. Start our family. Expand the garden.
Year 4: Become more competent in global energy consulting. Go on our first family vacation. Build a greenhouse.
Year 5: Become a regional head of strategic consulting for manufacturing plants. Send our children to nursery/pre-school. Return to full time consulting now that the children are back at school. Expand the house to include a pool.
The yearly plan is a summary of the entire vision.The yearly plan will be the expansion of the one year summaries created above, into dissectable actionable steps. Taking year 5 as the example in this instance. An example of what one month of the schedule will look like is underlined below:
Month 1: Find industry mentors who are in the regional division of the organization. Ask for their mentorship, and indicate that you want to one day do what they do. Understand what it takes to fulfill that role. Start researching schools in our local area. Ask other parents to recommend a good pre-school for our children. The school year starts in September, so prepare to have the children enrolled during this time. Scan the yard and start taking measurements for where the pool will go. We have identified that we can build it on the southern section of the house, where it’s sunny most of the day. Research local contractors and identify who has the best ratings from previous customers.
Continue this expansion for each month of the year. Since the monthly expansions may take time, you can divide the action plan across the year, and create an action plan at the beginning of each month. Knowing what you need to do, you simply identify how to do it, and then take action. At the end of each year, it’s always a good idea to reflect on the plan. You can tweak the steps at the end of each month if you prefer more instantaneous feedback. There are some actions that will take longer than others, so taking the time to assess the progress will help you to remain organized. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to treat yourself at each milestone, so that you stay motivated.
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