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How To Create an Achievable Five-Year Plan

Have you ever been at an interview or a social gathering and someone randomly asks you:  
What’s your five-year plan?” or “where do you see yourself in five years from now?” 
And you offer them the response of “Um, I’m not too sure, I haven’t really thought about it…” 

It seems that everyone around us has some sort of direction as to where they’re headed or where they see themselves in the next five years or so, but we can’t even think past next weekend – YIKES! 

When creating a five-year plan, where do you even begin? Should you make realistic and achievable goals. Where do you want the next five years to take you? 

Setting a five-year plan can help you feel accomplished.

Wait, What Is a Five-Year Plan? 

A Five-Year plan is a list of goals and achievements which you want to reach within the next 5 years of your life. Your goals and achievements can be personal or professional, depending on what you want to change in order to help you visualize your future. 

Usually, your plan will consist of smaller concrete goals to help you achieve the bigger goals on your list of goals and achievements. 

For example, let’s say you wanted to become a qualified heart surgeon (big goal). First, you should apply for universities that offer medical degrees with a clear path into your chosen career (small goal).

So, Why Should You Create a Five-Year Plan? 

Sometimes, our goals and desired achievements seem like a distant dream, slightly unrealistic and probably unattainable, right? 

Well, that’s because we need some sort of plan to turn our dreams into reality. By providing specific timelines and measurements we can keep ourselves accountable for our future ambitions.  

A five-year plan allows you to dive deep into your current lifestyle, clarify your future goals and help you determine whether or not you would be content with your progress in the plan. 

Your plan can be a rough idea of where you want to be a few years in the future; however, we recommend that you put your pen to paper and try to be specific and realistic with your aspirations. 

Those that make plans, take action”

Brian Tracy.
Making loose but guided plans can help you stay on target.

How To Create an Achievable Five-Year Plan:

Step 1: Determine what’s important to you

If you’re already wanting to create a five-year plan for yourself, you must have an idea of what you want or don’t want from your everyday life.  

You could be unhappy in your current job position and want to change your employment status, or maybe you visualize yourself leading a completely different lifestyle to what are now. 

With a five-year plan, anything and everything is relevant. The reason behind the plan is to better yourself and to picture your progress throughout time. 

For a five-year plan, you want to be thinking about important and life enhancing goals you’ve thought or dreamed about for a long time.  

The term HARD goals can help you form long-term and challenging achievements that can help you strive for success when creating your own five-year plan. Hard goal is another term for your desired end goal. 

H.A.R.D. Goals can help you reach your long-term targets!

Read now: Goal Setting: Striving for Achievable Yet Challenging Goals 

Here are some examples of different categories that your HARD goals can fall under: 

  • Personal Goals: health & fitness, habits, education, mental wellbeing etc. 
  • Family and Friend Goals: making more time, building your relationships, your family status (marriage, separation or children) etc. 
  • Financial / Career Goals: renting/buying a house, paying off debt, work promotions, increased salary, job transfers, employment status (unemployed, employed, self-employed) etc. 
  • Fun Goals: scuba diving certification, skydiving award, growing a sustainable vegetable patch, traveling around the world, attending a live festival etc. 

You can also work with multiple categories for your five-year plan, we recommend splitting your future goals and achievements into separate categories in order to keep your objectives clear, concise and straightforward

Split your H.A.R.D. Goals into achievable categories.

Step 2: Be Specific, Yet Realistic

Now that you should have a rough idea of where you would like to be within the next five years, you should begin to think about your desires in a specific, yet realistic way.  


Specific and Realistic: “I’m going to learn how to drive a car, with two lessons a week, in January 2022 and I’ll aim to pass my test 6-9 months later”.  

Unspecific and Unrealistic: “I’m going to learn to drive a car at some point in the next five years and I’ll probably pass my test straight away with only a few lessons”.  

It’s hard to know how to be specific on a five-year plan, you might want to just “be a better person” – but what does a “better person” mean to you? Would you like to make more time for your family and friends? Or you could want to become more eco-friendly with your plastic waste.  

Figure out what your goals mean to you. Generalizing goals, like becoming a better person, won’t help you to visualize and understand what changes need to be made for your long-term success.  

Remember, when it comes to setting realistic goals, plans change and not everything works out exactly how you imagined. So, make sure that when you’re refining your realistic goals, make them manageable and allow room for error or for the course of direction to change.

Step 3: Break Your Goals into Months and Years 

Start with your big goals; the reason as to why you want to start a five-year plan, your end goals. 

Big goal example: Buy a 2-bedroom apartment in London 

Place your big goal at the end of the time line, and figure out smaller and more tangible goals to hit to enable you to reach closer to your end goal.  

Small goal examples:  

1. Pay off debt 

2. Reduce Monthly outgoings (become more budget conscious) 

3. Find an increased salary  

4. Save a deposit  

Remember to be specific with your small goals too. By listing: “pay off debt” as a small goal, it isn’t specific enough to ensure your plan will work. When making short term plans use the SMARTER acronym: 

– Specific 

M – Measurable 

A – Achievable  

R – Realistic 

T – Time-bound 

E – Evaluate 

R – Readjust 

Assign your smaller (or short-term) goals into months and years, giving you time-bound milestones to reach throughout your five-year plan. Keeping yourself accountable, regularly, will ultimately decide how far away you are from reaching your long-term goals – that’s the reason why you decided to make a five-year plan, remember? 

Read now: How to Build Effective Short-term and Long-term Goals 

Create a calendar to help you keep track of your goals!

Step 4: Adjust and review accordingly

Life is pretty crazy sometimes, isn’t it? 

It’s full of the good and bad, ups and downs and all of the life changing moments. While we want to set SMARTER targets to achieve our HARD goals, we need to realize that not everything is always picture perfect and straightforward.  

You might find that the path you have chosen has changed throughout time, and that’s completely fine! 

You should review your goals monthly to not only see if you’re achieving them, but to change them if they’re not relevant or possible to complete. Here’s an example of goal changing from someone wanting to become a digital nomad, making a full-time income from travelling the world: 

Original goal: In September 2021, travel to Dubai to meet with X brand for a collaboration. 

New goal: In September 2021, postponed trip (due to COVID-19), set up a video conference call and work with X brand virtually.  

Revisiting goals and adjusting them will help you stay focused on the outcome of your five-year plan. You can modify your goals at any stage of your life progress. You may even find that some of your goals are being reached fast, while others take longer than you originally expected.  

Read now: Why Tracking Your Progress Is Important 

Tracking your progress can help you stay motivated!


So, where do YOU see yourself in five-years from now? 

It’s critical to remember that, although it can feel as if everyone around you is succeeding and on-track with their goals, that may not be the case. However, having a life coach could help you to see things from a better angle.  

Read now: What is a Life Coach and What do They do? 

Your only competition is yourself and you should only dictate your future yourself. With a five-year plan, you can begin to see where you were and how far you have come with your achievements.  

Read now: Imposter Syndrome: What is it and How to Overcome it 

Become a five-year plan professional with Ceed – Speak to us today to see how we can help you to create your perfect five-year plan. 

Learn More About Ceed

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