Create Your Five Year Plan

Where would you like to be in five years?

As we near the end of this year and begin to focus on 2013, it is the perfect time to make a self-assessment as to your long-term goals and what specific strategy do to have in place to achieve those goals. One of the best approaches I’ve seen a number of people take is to develop their own five year plan.

Writing out a five year (some people do ten years) plan will help crystallize your thinking in regards to your priorities. It will also give you a blueprint that you can follow, modify, and evaluate on an ongoing basis. I also find the process to be invigorating simply because I can imagine some of the possibilities and what it would feel like to achieve them. Here are four simple steps to help you draft your own five year plan.

Start with the end in mind. Author Stephen Covey popularized this approach and it makes perfect sense. It is much easier to know how to get there if you have a clear picture of where you are headed. I find this part of the process to be the most fun. Paint yourself a picture of where you really want to be in five years. What does it look like?

I incorporate this process into my business plan, which will work fine for many people. However, I encourage you to consider a holistic approach including your personal goals, as well. Is your goal a promotion, new career or new business? Are you considering additional education or certification enhancements? How about changes in your family life or recreational pursuits (Don’t take up golf. That will set you back five years!)?

I recently watched a movie called Seven Days in Utopia in which Robert Duvall instructs his golf protégé to paint a picture of how he intended to make a difficult golf shot (sorry for another golf reference). Once the young, struggling professional painted his picture, he was better able to make the shot, which involved hooking the ball around a tree. Take your time and enjoy this process. It is your life. Paint that five year picture and hang on to the visual you create.

Develop a timeline. Now that you have your vision of what you look like five years from now, you can develop a realistic timeline for how you will achieve that picture you’ve created. Understand that you won’t accomplish everything at once, and there should be a logical sequence involved. You want your timetable to be somewhat challenging, yet achievable. You should also view your timeline as something that will need to be modified at least annually.

Develop a specific strategy for the next 12 months. This needs to be more detailed in terms of specific action steps that you intend to achieve. I will go into more detail on your 2012 goal setting process in the next post.

Show your plan to someone. Get some feedback from a trusted advisor. This can be your spouse a close friend, colleague or mentor. You’ll get some valuable ideas that you’ll want to incorporate into your plan. Equally important, sharing your plan with someone else helps build accountability into your efforts to achieve your goals. You’ll have someone who understands what you are working towards, and can challenge you to keep moving forward.

Next post. On to 2013!