Making a 5 year plan

When working at NCsoft some years ago we had some personal development sessions, and during one we were asked to write down where we saw ourselves in ten years time. It was about a year since my father died, after which I had a sort of primal (but at the time unfilled) urge to have children. I think that was still on my mind a bit, so it's not too surprising that I saw myself in ten years as having a family, owning a home and having a stable job. Traditional, thoroughly unsurprising.

On the day that Trump was elected, to help clear the thick doom cloud of future uncertainty that was hanging in the air that day, I started thinking about positive actions I could take. I thought again about what I wanted to achieve in life. I'd pretty much forgotten about my own original ten year plan, although I'd somehow achieved the things that I wanted, so upon remembering the plan, it was time to revisit. I excitedly enthused Naomi to join in on writing down our life goals right there and then on that day. 
Well, it's New Year and the time to think about the past, the future and where we're all headed in life, here's a summary of how we've made a plan for the next five years.

1. Figure out what you want to achieve in your life.
Imagine you've grown old, and have enjoyed a happy, fulfilling life and done all those things you wanted to do. What were they? A successful career? Children? A loved and loving life partner? Living somewhere in particular? Travelling or seeing somewhere special in the world? Being an expert in a particular field? Being a radiant sunshine of love and happiness for those around you?
Write down absolutely everything you can think.

2. Prioritise.
Once you have an initial list, prioritise all the things, as much as you can. What's most important to you?

3. Define a timeframe.
The first time I did this, it was ten years. But for my second, this seemed too long so I chose 5 years. It can be whatever you want, and makes sense to scale it depending on what you're planning to achieve in the time. 

4. Plan!
What do you want to achieve, and by when? You might want to break goals down in to sub-goals if they're particularly meaty. For this, I drew up a plan of each year over the next 5 years and put goals in each year or put some spanning multiple years. Some of my goals were dependent on others.

4b. (Optional) Compare and merge!
Naomi, Rocco and I are a family and we share goals, so it made sense to compare our plans and merge goals where they align. We also split things out in to categories: family, home and work. Whatever works for you.

5. Don't forget about it.
It's in our living room. It'll probably migrate to the fridge door at some point. You could also set reminders in your calendar to check on your progress. New Year is a naturally good time to do this, but any time is a good time so long as you don't totally forget.

It's a simple exercise, but for us it's helped to bring forward all those things which don't get talked about all that often. That can feel pretty good.