Create Your Own 5 Year Plan

Originally published 23 Mar 2014

A goal without a plan is just a wish – Antoine de saint-Exupéry

Creating a 5 year plan is the way to achieve your dreams. A 5 year plan creates purpose and commitment. Earlier I have written about my own plans for the coming year (here, review coming end of this month). Having goals for a year fit perfectly with the 5 year goals, they go into more details, as do your monthly and weekly and daily goals. Before you get to thinking, gosh that sounds like a lot of work, let me tell you a few of the benefits that goal setting can have:

  • Decide what is important
  • Separate the important things from the irrelevant or distracting things
  • Motivate yourself
  • Build self-confidence as you achieve goals

Does this not cost me too much time?

Now back to your concerns about time. Each day I take about 5 minutes to write down my goals, a minute during the day to check them off (that always feels great), and again 5 minutes to reflect on what I have achieved that day. The weekly goals (and planning my agenda) take about one hour to complete, and also includes writing a journal entry about the goals. Then 4 times a year I am busy with making or revising my yearly (and if needed 5 year) plans. So the time investment per day would be no more than 20 minutes, i.e. the time it takes to watch the news (and in the words of astronaut Chris Hadfield “there is no news in the truth, and no truth in the news”).

Rule #1 – Focus

This may sound pretty obvious, but having an amazing focus in your goals is how you can 1) decide what is important, and 2) separate the important from the non-important. If all (or almost all) of your actions lead to the achievement of one bigger goal (or mission and vision), only then can you really progress.

To achieve this amazing focus you can do two things. The first is defining your purpose, what is it that you want to have left when you die? How do you want to be remembered? The second is to say “no”, along the road you are presented with many options, most of them will lead you away from your main goal. This can be incredibly difficult, take for instance the case in which you are offered a high paying job that is not perfectly aligned with your main goal, or you have to live on welfare while you are building your own company. Time and time again, the people who can persist through the initial phases of building their dream end up being happier and contributing more to life.

Step #1 – Define Your Mission

All your plans are interlinked, so is your 5 year plan. The 5 year plan sits between your mission and your yearly goals. To define where you want to be in 5 years you first need to define your own mission. To create a mission you must 1) identify your “winning idea”, what is it that you are great at? (your talents) 2) then define the scope you want to have, make it grand and still achievable.

Using a tool by FranklinCovey you can further define and find the parameters that will make your life mission work

  • I am at my best when I can learn and learn others things that make them more effective people that can lead others.
  • I will try to prevent times when I procrastinate and stop learning.
  • I will enjoy my work by finding employment where I can figure out new things, help other people, combine information.
  • I will find enjoyment in my personal life through writing about leadership and working in committees, and taking some time of to relax.
  • I will find opportunities to use my natural talents and gifts such as helicopter view, combining ideas, decision making, leadership.
  • I can do anything I set my mind to. I will build a leadership institute for leaders of all ages and all occupations to take control of their life.
  • My life’s journey is an educated man that combines work and fun and has most things figured out so he can face new challenges, I do this for the people I care about like my family and friends, but also other people who are in need of my help, I do this because I believe that with the right tools people can become the leaders of their own life. The results are that more than 1 million people live a more meaningful life.
  • I will be a person who has a wife and extended family. That I have done everything in my power to help them, that I have inspired them to do more than sit on their asses. That I have a great character.
  • My most important future contribution to others will be give clarity in the struggle for life goals.

I will stop procrastinating and start working on:

  • Change drinking and eating habits
  • Exercise even more regularly with a purpose
  • Be more considerate and take time to reflect

I will strive to incorporate the following attributes into my life:

  • Clear life goal and mission
  • Focus and trust
  • Values and virtues

I will constantly renew myself by focusing on the four dimensions of my life:

  • Eat healthy, take time to cook and discover new recipes. Exercise almost daily
  • Find rest in knowing that I am contributing to life. Reflect on goals
  • Have a meaningful relationship with a significant other and the rest of the people around me
  • Have meaningful conversations and interactions with others

 Step #2 – Define your 5 Year Goals

Your 5 year plan will consist of 9 distinct categories, these range from your professional life to what you are going to do with your personal time. For each ask yourself the question: Where do I want to be in 5 years time? On there are more specific questions per category. And feel free to use my post on brainstorming to help define your goals!

  • Career – Lead a medium sized company specialized in personal leadership. I have developed multiple courses/books/articles/guides on personal leadership
  • Financial – Payed back all my student loans and have been saving 15% of my income, of which the rest sustains a comfortable lifestyle in which I am not bound by worries about money.
  • Education – Know about leadership and can thus lead by example. I have continuously kept learning as a lifelong student.
  • Family – Living with a loving wife who I recently married. Be seen as a trustworthy family member that can give both comfort and help.
  • Artistic – Be comfortable playing the saxophone.
  • Attitude – Never procrastinate or worry about the future and live in the now!
  • Physical – Continue to have my current physical level whilst becoming older. Eat healthy and consume in moderation.
  • Pleasure – Visit cultural sights and meet with friends on a weekly basis. Relax by reading and discussing philosophy. Going on regular vacations.
  • Public Service – Create and execute a personal leadership plan for youth/schools.

Step #3 – Plan the Route to Achieving Your 5 Year Goals

Now that you know the end you want to be at, you can start planning how you are going to get there. For finances, what do you have to do, when to start paying of your loans? Or for pleasure, what can you do today to start enjoying yourself. For each goal you can have a different routemap. Some can be reached quite fast and are more something you like to do, others you will have to fight for to achieve.

Always remember that these goals are not set in stone. Goals can change, you can renegotiate them with yourself. At the same moment you do not yet know what opportunities you may come across. Always be reasonable when adjusting your goals. It helps to have someone else give you feedback. Through this you will know when you have set them too high or low.

Making goals and working to achieve them can be a lot of fun. At the same time the task may seem daunting. I will leave you with a question and a quote. The question: What are your 5 year goals and how are you planning to achieve them? The quote:

If you do not know where to begin, start! – FW

References & Further Reading: