How to Create Five-Year Goals for a Life You Love
Do you ever stop and ask where you want to be in the next five years? Do you have five-year goals? Sure, it’s a common question you might get in a job interview, but it’s also a great question to ask yourself about your personal goals and life plan.
The thing is, not many of us ask, much less plan. Creating a five-year plan may feel daunting, but identifying and developing your five-year goals is a great exercise for personal growth and creating a life you love.
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How Do You Create Five-Year Goals?
Start by taking a look back to review where you’ve been. Reflect on your career, relationships, finances, and how you’ve been spending your time.
Then think about what you want. Not what people want for you. And not what you think you’re supposed to do.
No. I’m talking about what you really want, deep down. What are your biggest dreams and desires? What would you do if you had no limits?
Those are the kind of thoughts and ideas to lead you to life-changing goals.
Write down what’s been working for you – and also what hasn’t. Be unfiltered with this. I like to call these writing rants.
Let it all out – what you feel about your life up until this point, and what you want to keep doing, plus what you would like to change. (rant journal)
Really visualize what you want and just start listing things out. What kind of five-year goals align with how you want to spend your life? Don’t self-edit and don’t judge. And definitely don’t let fear stop you from writing down all of your dreams.
In this part, it’s easy to downplay your wishes. After all, if you don’t aim super high, then you are more likely to achieve the goal. Right?
While there is some truth to that, don’t let the fear of failing hold you back. Be bold and really put yourself out there. Be honest with yourself about the things you want to achieve.
And if you’re worried about what others will think, let that go. No one will read it unless you share it with them (if you choose to do so) – so get the judgy voice out of your head.
Seriously, ignore the fear. Ignore your inner critic. I feel the fear and the inner critic all the time – but I’m learning to simply acknowledge them both and keep moving forward. I believe life rewards us when we take action.
Once you get all of your wishes and desire out on paper, your tablet, computer, or whatever, then from there, you can start to outline the goals you want to create.
Outlining Your Personal Growth Areas
Next, begin taking those big dreams and categorizing them into personal growth areas. Personal growth areas are components of your life such as
- Family and Relationships
- Health and Wellness
- Career and/or Personal Fulfillment
- Balance and Self-Care
- Community and Service
You decide which areas you want to tackle. Look at the areas of your life where you want to make the most impact.
Think about what will move you towards creating the life you want and deserve. (Yes, you deserve it.) Then start listing the goals for those areas.
Setting Your Five Year Goals
Here are some things to think about as you start to outline the goals of your personal growth areas:
Spiritual: your connection to God, how often you pray and/or meditate, how often you would like to attend services, reading spiritual material that feeds your soul, living in harmony with others.
Family/Relationships: your spouse or significant other, family and friends, the depth and quality of your interactions.
Finances: savings, debts, emergency funds, investments, budgeting, retirement.
Health and Wellness: eating habits, exercise, and mental health.
Career and/or Personal Fulfillment: the work you want to do, whether it’s a career or what you want to do in life that will give you purpose and bring you joy.
Life Balance and Self-Care: what you are doing to make sure your life has some balance and you are taking care of yourself.
Service and Community: how you are giving back to others, whether financially, through serving in your community, or consistent acts of kindness.
Make Your Goals Five Year Goals SMART Goals
So you’ve written down your five-year goals. Now what? Well, you have to come up with a plan of action to move toward those goals. You can do this by making sure your goals are SMART Goals:
Specific: make the goals specific and spell the goal out with precise language so it’s clear.
Measurable: the goal should be measurable use a metric to determine success.
Achievable: Goals should also be achievable. (Note: this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go for wildly big goals. To me, this just means breaking them down into smaller goals with actionable steps to get there.
Relevant: the goals should be relevant to your life’s vision and match with your values.
Time-based: the goals should have a timeframe in which you want to accomplish them.
Break Your Goals Down into Manageable Action Steps
Take your five-year goal and think about what it will take to get there.
Here is an example of five-year personal goals broken down.
Dawn decides what she really wants to accomplish for herself in the next five years:
Financial: Save up a downpayment for a dream home.
Health and wellness: Run a marathon.
Service and community: Becoming fully active in the town where she lives.
Dawn will next need to create shorter-term goals and actionable steps to meet these five-year goals.
She will need to think about how she will save money for a home down payment. What amount does she need? It will depend on how much her dream home costs. What will she need to save monthly? Will she need to increase her salary? Make budget cuts? Both?
How she will train for the marathon? What resources will she need? What does her initial running schedule look like to build up endurance? Are there coaches, running groups, or blogs she can utilize to learn as much as possible about training for a marathon?
What ways can she become active in her community and serve others? She will need to start researching what options are out there, making contacts and finding opportunities.
She can start with progressively smaller goals, like one-month, six-month to one-year goals. Then she breaks those down even further with actionable steps and timelines. Let’s take “run a marathon” as an example.
- Five-year goal: Run a marathon.
- One-year goal: Run a 10k.
- Six-month goal: Run a 5k.
- Three-month goal: Complete C25K (Couch to 5k program)
- One week goal: Purchase running gear needed.
- Create daily “to-do” lists to get to the smaller goals. For running, she might have “research best running shoes,” or “read C25K.”
Breaking down your five-year goals and shorter-term goals into manageable steps show you how you can really get where you want to go.
Your Goals and Action Steps Can Change
First of all, in my opinion, it’s okay if you don’t have every single thing figured out. Yes, you want to plan. But also, life has a way of guiding us. So be open to going with the flow and being open to new ideas and goals along the way.
You might be on track to save for your down payment, and decide at some point that you would rather stay where you are currently living instead of creating a massive travel fund so you can see the world.
That’s perfectly fine!
Nothing has to be “set in stone” and you don’t have to have it all figured out. This is a plan and plans can change.
Just start with what you think you need to do and go from there. I think the fear of feeling like we have to have all the answers can hold us back sometimes. Don’t get stuck in the details too much. The plan will come if you just get started.
How to stay focused on your goals
Create a Vision Board
One way to keep your goals front and center is to create a vision board (link.) A vision board, or goal board, is a great tool for visualizing your best life and what you want to accomplish.
Related Post: Create a Vision Board to Reach Your Goals
Write Out Positive Affirmations
Write out affirmations in a journal about who you want to be and what you want your life to look like.
These positive statements will help train your mind to focus on moving forward towards your goals and overcome self-doubt and limiting beliefs.
Focus on Personal Development
Seek out personal growth resources and tools to help inspire you and encourage you. It’s important to fill your mind with the kind of things that will move you forward.
Books, courses, podcasts, blogs some Facebook groups are great ways to continually work on your mindset and fill up with positive thoughts and ideas rather than negative ones. Here some resources that I have personally used that have played a huge role in helping move forward improve my mindset about achieving my goals.
Keep Your Goals Simple
When it comes to the five-year goal plan or the shorter-term goals, I definitely recommend keeping them simple. I also recommend limiting the number of goals. If you try to tackle too many, you can become overwhelmed and lose your motivation.
So while ambition is great, remember to be realistic. Prioritize the goals you want to achieve first.
Once you’ve written out your goals in the SMART format and broken them down into smaller goals, you’re ready to get started. Just keep a daily or weekly list of the steps you will take to reach the smaller goals.
Remember, you can always change your plan. And you don’t have to have all of the answers right away. Just keep taking inspired action, and give yourself grace as needed, and stay positive.