Setting goals and plans are essential for getting from Point A to Point B.
But what is a 1, 5, or even 10 -year plan? It is a goal you have for yourself in future-tense. If you want to be a doctor, you need to have a 1-year plan (what school to attend), a 5-year plan (graduating with a Bachelor’s, attending Grad school) and a 10-year plan (graduating from Medical School and getting your first job). By setting these kinds of goals, you can plan the “in-between” moments a lot more fluently.
Where do you start?
For sake of argument, let us limit this to a discussion about 5-year plans, which are the most common variation. It is easier than it sounds: pick a goal to work toward (or several), and declare that within 5 years, you will be at that point! It is often best to have multiple goals at once to avoid repetition (i.e. you might want to separate relationship goals and career goals), as otherwise you focus too much on one end of life’s spectrum and forget that, while working toward that 5-year career goal, there is more than the career in question that should occur.
For instance, you give yourself the goal of moving out of your parents’ house in 5 years. How do you get there? And how does your relationship with your boyfriend (or girlfriend) fit into the mix? Will they deter your progress toward living alone, or are they in the picture? This is why it is best to separate the two, to avoid skipping over what may be an essential part of your life. In this case, say that over 5 years you will maintain the relationship and move in with that individual together.
Planning your 5 years
Begin by asking yourself a simple question: “How do I move into my own place when I don’t have any money?” Well, that is the point of a 5-year plan: taking a long-term goal and figuring out how to get there! Every goal has steps, and in this scenario, you have two options that seem the most plausible: 1) go to school, get a degree, and get a job, or b) immediately begin working and save up.
To be honest, either of these options would work, but weigh each option of your 5-year plan for validity. If you got a job now, working minimum wage and long hours, would you be able to save up enough in five years to live on your own? Also, consider factors such as, do you currently have any expenses or future debts that may interfere with saving up? Next, examine the pros and cons of both decisions.
If you get a degree (though it may take up 4 of the 5 years of your plan) you stand a much better chance at getting a career going, and would have much more potential for job security and advancement. This is key to a 5-year plan: finding solutions to the primary goal.
The SMART Method
You want to make sure to plan well, but not to overdo it. Use the SMART Method (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and equally Time-Oriented) and realize that overpreparing is just as bad as under-preparing. It is called, “eliminating waste,” and it means limiting your plan to realistic goals.that you know are possible.
Some may think playing the lottery every day will give them good odds at winning sometime in that 5-year period, but at the same time, that is not really following the SMART method! Sure, you could win millions, but what gives you a better chance: a degree and a career, or luck?
This does not mean do not play the lottery. If you spend $2 a day on a lotto ticket, I cannot really judge you, and who knows? You may win! But the point of this argument is, do not rely solely on one method to get from Point A to Point B. Sometimes there are multiple ways to achieve a long-term goal, but you must be smart about it. Do not throw all of your money into the lotto, or the next “get rich quick” scheme, but do not avoid the opportunity either (see our blog on opportunities)
Try It Out!
So, start mapping out your future in increments. Take some paper and start drawing out the next 5 years of your life. Let us know how it goes, and keep us posted on your progress. What is your 5-year goal? How will you achieve it? And what is your 10-year-goal? Let us know!