Whether you aim to work toward a long-due promotion or get married, you need to have an explicit action plan defining all your short- and long-term goals to stay focused in life. One such method to record your targets is a five-year plan, which is formal, realistic, and attainable.
Draft your own five-year plan through this beginner-friendly guide.
What is a 5-year plan?
A five-year plan helps you realize a dream by shaping a path to success. This plan lets you establish a clear vision of your goals and assess your progress.
Five-year plans often include:
- Goals with deadlines.
- A timeline with action items.
- A system for measuring progress.
- Categories for goals in different areas of your life.
The benefits of creating a 5-year plan
Whether you have clear dreams or are stuck, making a five-year roadmap lets you decide how you aim to act to achieve your targets. Here are a few common benefits:
- You gain clarity: If you feel lost, a five-year plan helps you find your next steps. It pushes you to write down specific achievements to tick off in a set period, create action items around them, and accept what is and isn’t possible. You also identify what success looks like for each goal.
- You design a roadmap: Penning down a clear and detailed five-year plan helps you focus on the actions you need to take to reach your goals rather than identifying the dream.
- You feel motivated: Five-year plans let you monitor your progress, and as you achieve your goals one after the other, you’re motivated to set new ones and raise the bar. Before you know it, you’ll be checkmarking your long-term goals.
- You make better decisions: When you guide yourself with a clear plan and action items, you think twice about your choices and ensure you’re aligned with your goals.
How to make a 5-year plan
There’s no specific time to start making your five-year plan. Even if you shift or decide not to use it, documenting can be a grounding task. Plus, you can use this five-year plan for future goal-setting. Here’s how to start:
- Introspect: Take a moment to brainstorm what you want for yourself in the next five years. If it helps, break your life into categories, such as your personal and professional life, finances, health, hobbies, or education. Personal future goals examples may include getting a promotion, buying a house, or traveling the world.
- Put pen to paper: After you visualize your future self, write down your primary five-year goals. Separate them for each area of your life such as personal, professional, or financial –– add headings for areas you wish to change or improve and jot down your goals. Look at the lists you’ve created. If you think you’re taking on too much, scale back. Narrow your list down until you have a realistic number of goals.
- Decide how to measure success: Determine a few metrics to assess goal completion. Pinpointing these success milestones will help you with the next step of creating action items for each goal.
- Break your goals into tasks: Let’s say one of your five-year goals is to run a marathon. Break this goal into smaller objectives, such as running a 5K, 10K, and 26K. But when setting specific tasks in your action plan, get even more detailed. How will you train? Do you need to change your diet or schedule to achieve this athletic goal? Write answers and seek guidance from experts to take the first step.
- Set a timeline: Add deadlines to your targets and more finite time frames to your action items. For example, estimate when to run your first race as you train toward the bigger goal. Then, set specific dates for your training actions.
- Step back: Review your strategic plan and ensure it doesn’t look overwhelming. It’s better to have fewer goals in the beginning rather than taking on too much and feeling discouraged when you can’t achieve everything.
Different types of plans
Put all your plans — personal and professional — into one document. You can also make focused five-year plans for each area of your life you want to work on. Here are some plan ideas:
- Personal: A personal five-year plan includes goals for your relationships, hobbies, travel ideas, and living situation. For example, you may want to move to a bigger apartment, travel to Turkey, or propose to your partner.
- Professional development: Whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelancer, or employee, make a professional five-year plan. If you aim to launch your tech start-up, perhaps this looks like making a five-year strategic business plan. If you want to switch career paths but need a graduate degree to be eligible for roles in the field, set educational goals, such as earning a master’s degree.
- Health and wellness: If it’s time to take a hard look at your habits, improve them. Some health-related five-year goals examples include making more regular visits to your doctor, quitting smoking, seeking a therapist, or trying to add exercise or stretching to your day.
Stick to your plan with the help of a coach
Drafting a five-year plan is the first step to making huge strides in your life. But fulfilling all those action items and holding yourself accountable won’t be easy. That’s where coaches can help.
While a life coach supports people looking to make changes in several areas of their life, more specialized coaches help individuals focusing on a particular niche such as health or business.
And, if you need help creating your five-year plan, coaches facilitate exercises that help you identify areas of dissatisfaction in your life and formulate a route forward. You can always seek their services every step of the way. They’ll hold you accountable and cheer you on.