Rethink Your Five-Year Plan

December 10, 2018


Developing strong habits, creating plans to go after our dreams, and fully committing to our goals are key aspects of creating lives and work we love. On the flip side, a need for control and certainty, over-planning, and having strict ideas of how things “should” happen are not ingredients for real and authentic success. Unfortunately, these habits can unintentionally affect how we approach our goals by leading us to become preoccupied with the future and develop a sense of rigidity in how we approach life. It’s important to consider the mindset you have when planning your future, especially regarding the infamous “five-year” plan, to ensure you’re setting yourself up for success that truly serves you.


Rather than subscribing to a rigid five-year plan, you can support your planning with the following perspectives to ensure that you fully enjoy the process and are open to new ideas for growth:


Always be Inquiring

Ongoing self-reflection and self-awareness are crucial in paving your own path to success. The reality is that that who you are now may evolve and change significantly in 5+ years, which means that what feels right for you may change as well. When you regularly check in with yourself and evaluate how your circumstances are serving your interests, you can pivot your planning and decisions to ensure that you’re pursuing opportunities in alignment with what you really want instead of an outdated vision from 5 years prior. Give yourself permission to change your mind as you discover new insights and opportunities along your journey.  


Let Go of Certainty  

Clients sometimes come to me in a state of paralysis where they know they can’t stand their jobs, but they won’t leave until they feel completely certain that another job is the right choice. There is no such thing as absolute certainty other than what you choose to believe. If you find yourself pursuing safe choices or choosing to remain stuck in the name of “certainty,” all you’re facing is fear, which is perfectly normal in uncertain situations. However, don’t let fear hold you back and keep you waiting forever for 100% assurance of your future outcomes. Fear can be very sneaky by presenting what appear to be rational, logical, and safe approaches to decision-making. Don’t be fooled by this. Thank your fear for trying to protect you, and tell it to take a backseat, because you’re the one driving your future. 


Reconsider your Attachment to the Outcomes

Many times, we pursue goals with such fervor that our entire sense of happiness and self-worth rides on success of the outcome. This is a “high involvement, high attachment” approach to goals. While we’re committed and dedicated to moving forward, we are doing so with controlling energy, anxiety, and rigidity that ultimately can self-sabotage both our success and peace of mind. Instead, let go of this strong attachment to the outcomes as your source of validation, and practice a “high involvement and low attachment” attitude with your goals. In this way, you’re just as committed to yourself, but your identity and self-esteem are not dependent on your success. You may feel a sense of disappointment when things unfold differently than planned, however you don’t view yourself as a disappointment and instead see the deviations in your plans as ideal opportunities to learn and improve as you move forward.   


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