5 reasons to ditch your 5-year plan — and what to do instead

While I’m likely to find inspiration everywhere I go, there are three main places that fuel my creativity: bookstores, libraries, and museums. Deep in dusty paperbacks or in the hallways of my favorite artists — these are the places where my deepest impressions are made, and they are where my ideas about the world are found. formed. But I recently found a new source of revelation: my therapist’s office. And my latest life-changing perception of note-taking? After all, I don’t need a five-year plan.

I used to have a clear timeline of what I wanted my life to look like. Specific achievements correspond to daily deadlines that mark when the “mission” must be completed (Type A, I know). The goals are all the usual doubts: write a book, get married, get X position in X career path. While I still want those things for myself (and working towards the goal). Goal #1), which my therapist said caught me as I pondered the fear and pressure this pursuit placed on me: What if you pause the big picture?

Featured image by Belathée Photography.

Image of Claire Huntsberger

I immediately felt hesitant, even defensive. How will I motivate myself? How do I wake up every day and get work done without a clear roadmap to reach my goals? After taking a deep breath and feeling the emotions running through me, her offer suddenly made not only sense but also something like… permission. Being allowed to release the control I thought I had over my future and giving up on a five-year plan had me stuck in a fear of failure.

This goal setting structure is everywhere. I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked to share my five-year plan during job interviews, dates, and even when I made new friends. It’s a question that always seems to be on everyone’s mind, but in an ever-changing world, the plans I had for myself five years ago have drastically changed.

Below, I break down the shortcomings of a five-year plan and share helpful tips for setting goals that will help you feel refreshed and renewed every week, month, and year.

Picture of Danielle Sabol

First of all, what is a 5 year plan?

I’m glad you asked. If you haven’t faced the usual interview question, tell me where do you see yourself in five years, this is the lower level. Whether personal or professional, your five-year plan lays out what you want to achieve and where you want to be once that timeline is up. Of course, people also make 10-year and even 15-year plans, spanning a multi-year period with perhaps higher and longer-term goals.

According to BetterUp, a professional coaching platform, five-year plans often include “smaller, specific goals, to help you hit the larger goals on your list.” So your five-year plan can look like a series of larger goals (buy a house! Start a business! Grow your social media following!) and outline smaller, yes Actionable will help you get there.

The idea is that by writing down your five-year plan, you’re laying the groundwork for the career and life you want. And it is true that when your goals align with your values, you are well on your way to living your best life. Dream it, do it, make it come true.

Photos of Belathée Photography

My Problem with the 5 Year Plan

I must emphasize: Nothing originally wrong with the five-year planning mindset. As I wrote above, it can be an effective way to get you from Point A to Point B. What I have, however, is the unrelenting pressure we put on not just the players. Young professionals but also teenage students must know what they want. themselves before accumulating much experience or opinion.

And because I’m part of the millennial “job-hopping” generation, I know well that expectations have changed. As Emily He, CMO of Saba talent management solution, shared with Daily Business NewsResearch shows that college graduates today will have dozens or more jobs by the time they turn 30. She goes on to add that we enter this decade not knowing what we want for ourselves — instead, this is a time to learn, explore, and grow in ways we may never have. foreseen just a few years ago.

“You don’t have to see the end in the first place — you can’t have.”

Amy Ann Cadwell

And while this sprawling room of discovery may lead us to assume we will one day have things “found,” I have news to share – we won’t. But that is the beauty of life: the more we see, the more experiences we accumulate, the more our curiosity is aroused and our interest stimulated. Because of this, inevitably, many questions always arise.

The beauty of embracing the unknown

Earlier this week, I opened one of my favorite newsletters, Daily good things, to discover an inspirational quote that will set the tone not only for my day but for the direction of this piece. AmyAnn Cadwell, founder and CEO of The Good Trade, writes, “You don’t have to see the end at the beginning — you can’t.”

Her words spoke through my thoughts with a lucid reverberation, repeated with their full sincerity and meaning. They vibrate with the same permission that I have been given by my therapist, and although it may be obvious, it is a significant difference from the false belief in their total control. ta.

With that in mind, I decided to switch to a softer approach. It allows me to be in control of the flow and shape of my goals, but it also creates space for changes and inevitable shifts in the direction of our path and journey. So while I don’t know what my dream life will be like 5 years from now, here are the steps I’m taking to make that dream come true today.

Photo of Steven Simko

3 ways I pursue my goals with kindness and compassion

You are journaling in the future

Camille helped me start my “Future Friends” journal with one issue that was particularly striking and inspiring in her newsletter, Breathing space. In it, she encourages you to dream without boundaries, envisioning what your life would be like if you could live your day using only what’s important and meaningful to you. She asks you to think about these four questions:

  • Where are you?
  • What are you doing?
  • Who stayed with you?
  • What does it feel like?

This level of visualization helps you set your sights high, but learn to keep your expectations loose. As Camile shares, it’s the perfect antidote to those moments when you feel disconnected, distracted, or like you can just use a little direction to direct your focus. me. I find that instead of focusing on some unknown future, the exercise is like a gentle nudge that connects us to present reality.

Photos of Kristen Kilpatrick

Hot girl walking

Is it funny how a niche social hashtag can become a hot trend in just a few minutes? In this case, of course, I’m referring to the so-called “walking girls” – a movement started by TikTok that uses their daily walks to visualize and reflect on what makes them feel. see … hot. And fortunately, in 2022, this definition goes beyond the old-fashioned, look-specific meaning.

Instead, “hot” is a state of mind and hot girl walking, as coined by TikToker Mia Lind, means walking four miles while listening to an inspirational, shared-spiritual podcast. about your attitude, build your goals, and reflect on your “hotness” (whatever makes sense to you). Now that’s the wellness routine, goal-forming that I can achieve.

Picture by Jessica Attie

Boarding Vision

There’s nothing new here, but if you haven’t joined the visual boarding craze, take solace: it’s never too late. While there are many reasons to love it, I especially like this goal-setting method because of its basics, its tangible nature. The teen in me loves the idea of ​​spending an evening parking in front of her favorite show, flipping through magazines, and pasting in more inspiring, eye-catching pictures, words, and quotes. a collage to let my eyes drift. go to every time I need a little motivation.

While you might be tempted to move this process over to Pinterest, give it a pause before going digital. What I like about the visual analog panel is that you are selecting images from a limited supply. And when you think about it, that’s a bit of what life is like, isn’t it? You work with what is presented to you. Plus, the process is inspiring, creative, and exciting — like any journey in life is possible.

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