WAHM Guide: How to Create a Five Year Plan – and Actually Make it to That Five Year Goal

Back in the days when I was young, single and living in the city, my life revolved around…well…me. I wasn’t accountable for anyone else – and my long term plans reflected that. Once I met Ricky, that started to change. When we started planning for a family, we started really planning for our family’s future, which was a much bigger – and scarier – undertaking than I ever thought it would be. Now that we have a little one in our life, I realize how important it is for us to have a long term plan in place.

Here’s the deal with a five year plan: it sets achievable goals for your family’s future. It helps you to achieve financial and personal successes in a step-by-step manner. But sometimes, setting – and achieving – those successes isn’t as easy as it sounds. Here’s a five step plan to help you get started. It’s not a fully in-depth plan of action, because something like that varies based on what you’re looking to accomplish. But it will help you start thinking in terms of short-term goals to reach long-term success. Which is something that all of us should strive for!

1. Start by writing down your goals. Be realistic with how you and your family work. Where do you want to see yourself in five years? Keep in mind that one person’s five year vision may be drastically different than your own. This step is the best way to start the planning process and will ensure that you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to the direction your lives are heading in.

2. Create a generalized plan for how you can get to that five year goal. It doesn’t have to be anything too detailed – the details can come into play on a smaller scale later on. What you want to do is set smaller goals for yourself over the course of the five years. For example: if your family plan involves having more children in the next five years, with you ultimately becoming a stay-at-home-mom by the end of that five year mark, what steps do you need to take to get to that point? Look to see if there’s a financial benchmark you need to get to. Perhaps you need to downsize – or maybe you have certain career goals that you’d like to accomplish before that point. No matter what you think the steps are to getting to your goal, lay them out on paper in chronological order. A plan of attack – even at this generalized level – will help you achieve your plan.

3. Think about the next year. Now look at the goals that you need to achieve within the next 365 days to move that much closer to your five year goal. Specifically, what steps do you need to take to make it to each success point on your plan? Looking at your year in terms of more specific milestones to meet will help you to break down your weeks into tasks you can accomplish. For example, let’s say you’re working full-time for one company while building a home business on the side. If your five year goal is to be only working for your home based business, then your one year goal is probably to hit a certain production amount {in terms of dollars}. Planning the steps for achieving this goal – by budgeting the amount of time and resources you’ll spend on your home based business over the course of the next year – is key to making that goal happen. You can also set monthly or quarterly goals for yourself to stay on track. You should be re-evaluating this step about every three months.

4. Plan out your month or week accordingly. For me, I find it easiest to make a plan at the beginning of each week. I start by looking at the previous week. Whatever I didn’t accomplish gets re-evaluated: is it an important task? If so, is there something I need to change about the execution to get it done this week? Then I think about what I need to get done over the next seven days to achieve my monthly goals. I make a list and work on getting through as many things on that list as I can throughout the week. This helps me prioritize my time better: if I know that I have four projects to complete this week that will take x amount of time to complete, I’m better able to designate a certain amount of time to spend on them – and since the amount of working time I have is limited to certain hours {when I have child care or when la babe is napping}, I know that I’ll be more productive to make the best use of that time.

5. Know that sometimes, the plan is going to change. Life is busy – and sometimes life will throw a hitch into your plan. THAT’S OK. You just need to re-adjust your plan to fit your needs. For example: after RJ was born, I needed to change how – and when – I was able to work. My schedule now revolves around a four month old’s schedule. I won’t lie to you and say that it was an easy transition, but we’ve adjusted – and we’ll continue adjusting our work schedules as our little man grows and changes as well. Along with that, our short term goals have also shifted. Before we found out we were pregnant, we had plans for the Spring of 2013 that no longer work with our lives with an infant. Sometimes, your plans have to get put on the back burner for a while. It doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually happen, it just means you have more pressing goals to accomplish right this second.

Tell me in the comments: how do YOU plan for the long term?

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