How To Make An Effective Five-Year Plan

Tip #133: Make a Five Year Action Plan.

The Why: The future is terrifying. In fact, when you have anxiety, it is potentially the most terrifying thing in the universe. Even worse than black holes, aliens and a planet without wifi.

Whether you’re coming to the end of a transitional period in your life like college or school, feeling stuck in a job you hate, or simply want something better for yourself, there is no worse feeling than thinking your life is not within your control.

Trust me though, it very nearly always is.

We have within ourselves the power to change, improve, and shape our own existence.  

But we have to believe it for ourselves. That’s the key.

We all have dreams, goals, and ambitions, but often worry that they don’t quite fit into our lives, that we can’t achieve them given our current situation, or that you don’t even know where to begin.

Well, I can guarantee that there is always a way to fit in your drives around your current life. You can take back control.

Make a five-year plan.

Now, of course, this is not to say that you must strictly adhere to it. Things, people, and circumstances can change as quickly as the wind blows. However, it is still worthwhile to draw a sketch of what you want to accomplish and by when in order to make you feel calmer and more grounded in your life’s direction.

Step One – Write A List Of Things To Achieve

No matter how ambitious, unlikely, or plain impossible, write a list of all the things that you wish you acomplish during your next five years of existence.

Whether that be starting that great business you’ve had an idea for, writing that best-selling book, travelling to three different continents, starting a family, or improving your financial situation, write it all down on a piece of paper, on your phone, or on the wall if you feel like.

If you’re stuck for ideas, take some time to honestly reflect on what you want your life to be like in five years, and write down what you think you’d need to do to get to that place.

For instance, say you would like to change careers to go into teaching, write down a list of what you’d need to do to go into that profession; what qualifications or training you’d need, where is the best place to obtain them, and any experience you could get in the meantime to secure a role.

Step Two – Write A Detailed Roadmap

This step is equally important, as it will show you the exact direction you need to take to achieve your goals. This will also give you the motivation to get to where you want to go.

Simply saying you wish to write a book sounds like a long and arduous process, which can make you even less likely to begin. However, breaking up a big project or transition into smaller steps or chunks makes it manageable. For instance, if you say ‘Research x’, ‘Write the introduction’, ‘contact x for information’, you can tick off each stage bit by bit until it aggregates into the finished product.

Step Three – Give Yourself Realistic Deadlines

This is critical to your five-year planning. Saying that you want to have a new business launched in a week is admirable, but also, most likely unrealistic. Don’t set yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations or time-frames.

It’s important to be honest with yourself about how long each stage will take you, given other life commitments and constraints. This will also prevent you from feeling demotvated if you haven’t quite written a novel in a month.

Setting self-imposed deadlines also means that you’ll have enough of a time-constraint to ensure you don’t just procrastinate endlessly, and never get it done.

Step Four – Mitigate The Ways Plan Can Fit Into Your Current Life

While changing careers, beginging on a new path, or starting big projects, it’s vital to ensure that you find ways to fit these into the current life you lead. So, if you need to write a book, but have a job, three children and a Netflix subscription, try and allocate even half an hour in the morning, or during your working day for writing.

There are many obstacles that prevent us from achieving our goals, or getting where we need to be, but there is no obstacle so great that we cannot overcome it. We have to think outside, inside, around and through the box in order to fit our dreams in our lives, but we always can.

Step Five – Make An Excel Spreadsheet Of Each Stage

Make a spreadsheet of all your projects and plans. In the first collum going down, write a project, aim or ambition in each cell, then across from each write out every stage that you’ve got to complete to get to the end goal. Then, as you complete each stage, fill in the stage’s cell with a colour so you can have a tangible way of viewing your progress. Seeing how far you’ve come is always a good motivator.

This means that you won’t forget anything, and have a clear and concise way of looking at your project as a whole.

Screen Shot 2017-10-23 at 15.37.26.png
This is a section of my spreadsheet. It’s a far more simplistic version, but it gives you an idea of what to do.


So, bringing this altogether, it’s important you know that there is nothing you can’t acomplish with the right sort of plan. A managable, step-by-step, unoverwhelming plan to change your life.

You are in control of your own destiny. You are in control of yourself. You got this.

Know someone who may need this?

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