How To Make A 5-Year Plan

I recently shared on my IG that I had been working on my personal five-year plan. I was shocked how many of you asked to hear more about this process. I have benefitted immensely from simple goal setting in both my business and personal life. So I am happy to share how I made my own five-year plan and hopefully some of you will try it for the first time as well!

The reason I love to have a five-year plan and track my progress is because I am the kind of person who very easily gets overwhelmed. I create huge guilt for myself over smaller things like having too many DMs (which I really need to let go of … haven’t gotten to the bottom since before Christmas) or forgetting to send a thank you note or text a friend back. So the big responsibilities like saving for retirement, funding our next adoption and making sure I am spending the right amount of quality time with my family each season can spark explosive levels of fear and panic if I don’t keep on top of them. And when I am spiraling in stress it becomes more difficult to separate important priorities from things that I should either just check off my list or remove from my list altogether. I struggle with feelings that I want to “do it all” and it gets me nowhere. Instead, I think it’s an important practice to step back, evaluate my priorities and then work to keep them at the top of my list.

No one’s life is perfect, but the pressure to create perfection makes it even more difficult. It doesn’t push me closer to my goals. If anything, it wears me thin.

With that said, here’s how I created my five-year plan. It’s extremely simple because I believe the best plan is the one you can keep up with.

Five years is a long time 
If you add it all up, five years is a lot of days … it’s a lot of dollars made and spent … it’s a lot of time to spend working on a goal, even with just a little bit of effort every week or every month. It’s a lot of chances to try again and do better. I believe it’s possible to change your whole life in five years.

Zooming out + dreaming big 
90% of why I need and want to have a five-year plan is because I don’t want to regret how I spend my life. None of us want that!

When I zoom out and try to imagine how I will feel looking back in five years, it’s a lot easier to weed out the unimportant things. So try imagining yourself five years older. What would you be so proud of yourself for spending your time and money on during these years? What would you regret?

Don’t forget how long five years is! Don’t be afraid to dream bigger and set goals that feel borderline impossible to you today. You have time to get there.

For me personally, I know these next five years are going to fly by. Since I have a toddler now and we’re planning to adopt again in that time frame, I feel like I will blink and it will be over. So setting my big goals comforted me and helped me feel more in control … even if it’s in my own mind. It relieved a lot of stress.

Five years, five goals 
Five goals is plenty. This is my personal preference. You can set 20 or 30 goals if that makes you happy, but for me I know I lose focus and achieve less if I keep my plate too full.

I actually only made four goals for these next five years and they will take me ALL five years to achieve.

Three of them are financial goals because that is something I need to be focused on right now. Jeremy and I are probably in our “prime” earning years of our lifetime and we want to make good choices for the future. I’m someone who is only good at saving money when I know what I am saving it for—so having these specific goals is an important step for my personality type to stay motivated.

My fourth goal is personal and extremely simple, but takes focus and work every day. It’s also the one that gives me the most panic because I don’t want to blow it. It’s to give Nova a magical childhood. All parents knows that it is a marathon, not a race … and each individual day can be so exhausting. I can already tell that small habits like planning a fun weekend together, or prepping art projects, or taking the extra 30 minutes to walk in the grass for as long as Nova wants to at magic hour (lol) make a massive difference in the quality of our life and our time together. These are her memories she’ll have her whole life and it freaks me out that I only have one little window of time to make these childhood memories with her.

These goals are not rocket science. They are pretty obvious. But I also feel like they are things I could put off, or regret not working harder at. So that’s why I chose them. There are 100 other things that are also important to me, but I feel like I’m already doing them or able to do them quickly or easily. To me, the five-year goals should be the marathon-type things that you are scared you will neglect.

Break your goals into smaller steps 
The way you will do this will vary per each goal. But take the time to figure out what steps you need to take this month, this season, to be on pace for your five-year goals. Some goals (like my personal goal) don’t need a big list—they are just more of a daily and weekly reminder of how I want to be spending my days.

Other goals, like a savings goal, can be broken down pack check by pack check, so you know exactly how much you need to save each month to stay on track.

I would split the dreaming up of your big goals and the planning of how to execute them into different sessions. Each goal will need a good amount of time and planning as you figure out your strategy. But the first step is just getting the goals on paper.

Keep up with your goals, but also relax! 
Once you have your goals made, you can stay up with them season by season. Some years you may make more progress than other years—nothing wrong with this. But if you keep them at the top of your mind, season by season you can also relax a little more because you know you are taking care of the most important priorities and responsiblities.

Bonus tip
I like charts. A LOT. Make charts for your goals so you can track your progress. When I save up money, I make a big chart and them divide it into smaller pieces. Then each time I make a deposit, I color in a section until it is all the way full. With my time with Nova I made a “summer bucket list” to check off fun things I want to make sure we do together. Whatever your goal is, think of a creative way to track your progress visually. It helps me stay motivated!

I realize this is all pretty simple. But I do hope it is helpful and that some of you will try making your own five-year plan. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just schedule a couple hours one day to be alone and think about what you really want to achieve in this season of your life. You can change your life completely in five years … I mean, my last five-year plan led me to Nova! xx. Elsie

P.S. I asked my friend Elise if she had advice and she has an IG story highlight about this topic as well.

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photo edited with A Color Story Desktop.

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