My 5-Year Plans


So far, you have looked at your skills, environments, people, and core story. You have looked at how you might combine interests and build skills. You also have looked at how your own beliefs might be part of the challenge.

Now will we will be building stories for you for your future. This can be a much more expansive exercise, but we’ll get started with some core questions for you to play with.

Yes, play.


Your Next Five Years

Print out the worksheet at this Link on Three Maps of Your Futures – design and reflection (from the Designing your Life book).  The intention is to start with a 5×3 grid, 5 across and 3 down.  You can make it fancier, but this is the core construct.  

Above the top, write the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.  These will represent the next 1-5 years of your life, with 3 scenarios.  Please plan to spend at least 5-10 minutes on each row.

Row 1: Your Most Likely Path…from What You Can See Now

In the first set of boxes, within the top row of five boxes, please write out what will happen in your life over the next 5 years if nothing changes from your current pathway. You can be as detailed as you like, and can take it to another piece of paper to work on.  Put elements of each future year in the boxes across — the next year in the first box, two years out in the second box, etc.  

You can write, draw, doodle, etc.  You can move it to a larger set of boxes or write somewhere else before moving it in.  The overall concept is to put at least something in each box going across.  

Does it have to be already locked in?  No.  But if your life takes the path that you’d most expect right now, what goes into each box?  Is graduation there? Moving?  Travel?  A new apartment?  Starting a business?  Family activities?  Dating?  Graduate school?  Touring or music releases?  If nothing extraordinary happens, what are the elements of your future plans.  For some folks, this is a very difficult exercise as they tend to map to graduation and then to plant seeds then that might grow in different directions.  If you have that decision path, where you see a split, feel free to mark that potential split.  


Row 2: A Backup Plan…One Possible Pivot

In the next set of boxes, write out what your five-year plan will be if that first plan can’t happen for some reason. If you can’t perform, for example, what might be your backup plan? If you can’t launch your business? If you can’t get that creative role you plan on?  It doesn’t have to be practical or ready.  For some people, this is harder than the first row, as they are very focused on a single journey and have been told that you have to commit 100% to a creative or professional career.  It may mean moving elements out 2-3 years, or moving some forward.  It might be a very different start that may take you another direction or two . . . or three.

Row 3: No Barriers and Unlimited Resources

In the last set of boxes, write your five-year plan IF MONEY, RESOURCES, AND TIME WERE NO OBJECT. If you had all the money you needed to make your plan work, and other resources were available, what would you actually want to grow and plant over the next 5 years?  You may want to move year 5 to year 1, or take a very different journey.  What do you want to test?  What challenges do you want to overcome?  Who do you want in the next 5 years of your life — partners, colleagues, family — that you can design in intentionally?

Now, no one will be coming to make sure you do any of this.  🙂  How big a stretch could you envision your world becoming with the best support, resources, and removal of blockages?  

Writing Reflection:  How was this exercise?  What was different about the 3 rows?  Did writing Rows 2 and 3 make you think differently about Row 1?  

Writing Reflection: What are elements of any of the 3 Rows that you could now research and meet people to test?  What do you need more information about, either through research or time, to help move these items ahead and into your future life?  

What are the differences between your 3 five-year journeys?

What really limits you?