Why you should have a five-year plan

A journal reading "goal, plan, action" next to a clock.

How it helps with career development

When thinking about a five-year plan, the thought of what you are doing in 2025 can be terrifying! Maybe you’ve just started college and you have no idea what you are going to major in. Or perhaps you are about to graduate, and the stress of finding a job is eating away at you.

The reality is that goal-setting is proven to make you more successful. A Harvard business study found that “the 14% of people who have goals are ten times more successful than those without goals”.

A five-year plan has to be strategic and well thought out. Here are some ways you can help develop your plan:

  • Imagine your life five years from now and write everything down. Create an unfiltered list. You might be surprised by what comes to mind. This will help start the plan as well.
  • Ignore all the voices and reasons in your head telling you no. These will not only bog you down but are detrimental to your mental health and reaching your goals.
  • You can have more than one small goal, but your five-year plan should only have one main goal. For example, getting a Ph.D. degree.
  • Take action! There is no way to make your plan happen if you don’t implement it. This might mean having a monthly to-do list, or even a daily one. It might mean sacrificing social time, fun activities, or vacations. But later, it could mean more time to do those things, and more opportunities to enjoy life.

A five-year plan should include your career, but it should not leave out your personal life. If you want to buy a house, get a pet, have a baby, or travel, you should be realistic about those goals and how they fit into your career. You never want to take on too much at once, so be aware of where you are allocating time. There are only so many hours in the day, and you never want your physical health to suffer.

Taking all of these things into consideration, a rule to live by is using SMART goals. SMART goals stand for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Keeping all these components in mind will allow you to create the best five-year plan possible.

Last, but not least, remember, the plan can always change but the end goal should stay the same.

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