Goal Setting – How to Make a 5 Year Life Plan That’s Worth Your Time and Effort
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Goal setting and developing life plans.
Sounds about as exciting as doing your income taxes, right?
But if you want to get more from your life, if you want better or different, then you have to incorporate change.
You have to plan for something better. Read on for tips on developing a five year life plan to help you to start living the life you desire.
It’s another year.
Where has the time gone?
If you find yourself looking back on the past year and wondering where it went, or more importantly, why you have unmet goals from this past year, you’re not alone.
As popular as New Year’s resolutions are, it seems that breaking them is even more common.
Whether it’s lack of time, resources or determination, or one of a million other reasons, we’re experts at resolution-breaking.
So, what’s the secret to keeping New Year’s resolutions? Simple – just don’t make them.
While it sounds good and all to set goals for the upcoming year, simply saying to yourself, “I’m going to lose weight” or “I’m going to start a business” or whatever it is you want to accomplish, is just not enough.
Resolutions come at a time of year that’s often emotional (good and bad), stressful and fraught with an idyllic perception of what the holidays should be.
We may feel pressure from others (or more likely from ourselves), or guilt over things we’ve done or have failed to do that incite us to declare a change in the year to come.
But once the holiday/end of year atmosphere changes and we go back to our usual routines, keeping those goals becomes much more difficult.
If you’re serious about goal setting and making some real changes in your life, you must treat your desire with the significance it warrants – you must make it a priority.
Don’t settle for the usual resolutions. A five-year plan – one that is properly made and executed – can make a huge difference in your life and the lives of those around you.
And not just in five years, but in the years leading up to then, and especially in the years after.
It’s worth taking the time to be more intentional about what you want your life to be. If you’re not sure how to start, consider the following steps:
1. Define Your Goals And Your “Why”
Before you can make any kind of progress, you must first know where you’re going.
Think about what you want your life to look like in five years.
Where will you be?
What will you be doing?
What will you look like?
Who will be there with you?
Answering these questions and more will give you a basis for your goals and help you to decide and subsequently focus on exactly what you want.
Obviously, no one can predict the future or what may happen between now and then, but for now, think about what your ideal life in five years looks like.
Once you have that established, start listing your goals. What do you need to do to get to where you want to be, and what needs to change between now and then? Be as specific as possible; this will help you in the long run.
At least as important as what you want to do (and arguably even more so) is why you want to do it.
If you don’t have a ‘why’, then what’s the point of doing anything? Your motivation to meet your goals is what will sustain you when everything else says quit.
Wanting to start a business to make some extra money or to eventually develop it into a full-blown enterprise may get you going, but fulfilling a lifelong dream and being a good example to your kids will keep you going. Establish specific goals and remember your whys.
2. Set Both Short and Long Term Goals
If you concentrate only on accomplishing your five-year goals, it’s likely you’ll get overwhelmed and quickly fizzle out.
Once you have your large, big-picture goals established, begin to break them down into smaller goals.
These can be goals set for each year, twice yearly or even monthly.
Setting these short-term goals is important for two reasons.
First, it allows you to see progress more quickly from specific tasks that you can begin right now.
Second, by building up an accumulation of smaller goals early, you demonstrate to yourself that, yes, you can do this and you are on your way!
It’s encouraging. This is especially helpful if your plan is more complex, like starting a business.
Remember, too, to keep your goals reasonable.
Saving enough money to move to Europe in three months is simply unrealistic for the average person, no matter how thrifty you may be.
And, if you try to do too much too soon or incorporate too many changes at once, it’s likely you won’t get much traction and will fail to make real progress toward your goals.
That can be highly discouraging, to a point where you just want to forget the whole thing.
By setting measurable, achievable tasks that you can begin to do right now, you will consistently move closer to fulfilling your desires, which is great encouragement to keep you going in the right direction.
3. Incorporate Flexibility
Let’s be honest.
The only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability.
We can make our plans down to the letter, but things can happen at any moment to derail us and we can be left with the sinking feeling of, “What do I do now?”
This is not to be discouraging – just the opposite.
It’s extremely important that you prepare for the possibility (more like inevitability) of interruptions, distractions or setbacks.
No one likes feeling blindsided, and if you have already acknowledged that the unexpected could happen and allowed for such circumstances, you will be caught much less off guard.
I cannot overemphasize this.
Many a dream has been discarded or plans given up because of obstacles that could’ve been anticipated or overcome, if the determination to do so was already there.
Will unforeseen changes alter you timeline?
Probably. Will obstacles make it more difficult?
But when your goals and dreams are a priority, it’s okay.
Difficulties and hurdles are simply minor detours on your journey, and must always be thought of that way.
Your ability to navigate the ‘detours’ well can make all the difference in whether, how and when you arrive at your desired destination.
4. Surround Yourself with Motivation
There’s really no substitute for motivation.
It’s the thing that fuels us, drives us; what gets us out of bed in the morning and gives us the strength to do what’s needed to be where we want to be.
Motivation is different for everyone, but it can include things like inspiring quotes or biblical scriptures, images of those that inspire you or are part of your vision, little mementos that remind you of where you want to be, a poster or a note from a friend or one of your children, or possibly a vision board with a combination of any or all these things.
The point is that whatever you choose as motivation, touches you in some way and fuels that flame inside.
Find what it is that catches your vision and your imagination and keeps them focused on your goal.
The people in your life can also be a source of motivation.
However, there may be those with whom it’s best not to share your plans. Some family and friends may be well-intentioned, but when faced with the potential of your goals, plans or intended life changes, be negative or critical rather than offering positive feedback because they lack the experience, confidence or vision to see what you see.
If you have people like this in your life (and you probably know just who they are), it may be better to refrain from sharing your entire plans and vision with them.
Negative, critical words from others can be deadly to a dream.
Confide in individuals who understand you, who get you, or in those who may not, but will still totally support you.
As harmful as negative words can be, positive words and encouragement are exponentially more powerful and beneficial in keeping you going when you need it most.
5. Start Today
There’s a quote that says, “A year from now, you’ll wish you would have started today.”
So true, right?
What do wish you would’ve started a year ago?
Two years ago?
Five years ago?
Today you have the chance not to have to contemplate that in a year, or five years.
You may not be prepared to take a major step, but do something.
It’s surprising, too, how just making the slightest of moves in the right direction can get you started on a great path.
So, do this….Set a goal to spend just 15 – 30 minutes a day working on your vision.
Some days you may not meet it, but other days you may well exceed the time.
Find what works for you, but don’t wait.
Each day is another day to bring you closer to the life you desire.
Although it may seem intimidating at first, a five-year plan is totally doable!
Yes, it takes effort, thought and maybe some time that you don’t think you have.
But everything worth anything usually requires some sort of sacrifice.
And in the great scheme of things, some time and intentional thought devoted to improving your life is not so bad.
And the results of your investment are so worth it.
Serious goal setting isn’t for sissies.
It also isn’t for those that have no real passion or vision in life.
But it is for those that have dreams and desires of being and doing better.
It’s for those that have a vision for their lives that stretches beyond mere survival and day to day living.
It’s for those who want to do more, to be more and to make a difference.
It’s for YOU.
But you can’t be more or do more unless you take that first step.
You’ve got this.
Give those dreams a chance to become reality.
Start making and implementing your life plans.
A year from now, you’ll be so glad you did.
Is this YOUR year?
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