How To Plan 5-Year Goals In 3 Critical Steps

Woman planning 5 year goals

When I was 18, getting to 23 seemed to take an eternity.

Now that I’m 52, I’m pumping the brakes to 57 because it’s coming way too fast.  (Can you relate?)

But, I’m determined to make the next 5 years of my life the *best* years of my life.

Determination alone won’t get me there, though.  There needs to be intention and purpose as well.

Setting 5 year goals is a great way to plan for a better future that doesn’t seem too far away.  There’s plenty of time to make some life-changing achievements, but it’s close enough to generate some urgency and anticipation.

Some people can get caught up in all the little details of goal-setting (raising hand), but this can hinder the momentum that’s so important when you’re taking action.

Instead, simplifying the process will help you get started faster and make progress quicker.  So, I’ve broken down how to plan 5 year goals in 3 simple steps.  

Download this free 5-year planning guide to help you start setting your goals!


Planning 5-year goals:  First things first

One of the fundamental principles of personal success is taking full responsibility for yourself.

This means *no excuses*.  You are solely responsible for your life and what you accomplish in it.

This can be a tough pill to swallow if you’re not where you want to be.  Personally, I have some “go-to” excuses that seem pretty legit, like I had to raise 3 kids!  I didn’t have the time!  or, here’s a doozy:  I tried, but it didn’t work!

It’s taken me a long time to accept the fact that nothing and no one got in the way of me reaching my goals except for that person in the mirror.

But you know what?  Yesterday doesn’t matter.  Yesterday is long gone and ain’t never comin’ back.  Today I can make new choices.  Today I can choose better.

The future starts today.

So get your mindset in check.  Get those limiting beliefs in a chokehold so they no longer have any power over you.

And take responsibility for *everything* in your life.  No excuses.  You got this.

Step 1:  Dream BIG

The first step in creating a 5 year goal plan is to dream about the future you want.

And not, like, wouldn’t it be so cool to have a million dollars and a big mansion and an awesome job and take vacations in other countries!

That’s a good place to start, but you must get more specific, you must write them down, and you must *envision* yourself living them out.  Step into your dream future as if you’re living it today.

Then look around at your beautiful life and ask your present self these questions:

  • Where do you live?
  • What does your house look like?
  • What’s parked in your driveway?
  • Where do you go to work?
  • What do you do?
  • What does an average day look like?
  • How much money do you make?
  • Where do you vacation in the summers?
  • What hobbies do you have?
  • I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

And, hey, dream big or go home.  You’ve got nothing to lose!  This is *your* personal 5 year plan, so don’t compare it to what others think is “reasonable”.  This is not the time to limit yourself or wonder how it’ll happen.  Put aside your doubts and cynicism, and let your imagination come out to play.

Get out a sheet of paper and brainstorm all the ideas you have for the most amazing future you can imagine 5 years from now.

Don’t hold back!

Step 2:  Map it out

Okay, now you’ll come back down to earth and get practical.  You need to figure out how to get your life from Point A to Point B.

The good news is, you already know where you’re going to end up.  All you have to do is start working backwards.

Do you want to be a millionaire in 5 years?  Great!  How much do you need to save to get there?  Once you have a number, break it down into yearly chunks, then a monthly goal.

Let’s say you already have $250k in your retirement account.  If you’re going to reach millionaire status, that means you’ll need to save up an additional $750k over the next 5 years.

  1. $750k divided by 5 years equals $150k each year.
  2. $150k divided by 12 months equals $12,500 a month.

Can you swing an extra $12.5k a month?  Yowza!

However, if you factor in compound interest at 10%, that number would drop to about $9,000 a month.  The compound interest would make up the difference.

That’s still a lot, though.  So, what could you do?

  • Start a side business to generate more income
  • Downsize your home and apply the savings toward your goal
  • Get rid of your auto loan and drive an old clunker for a while
  • Stretch out your millionaire goal to 7 years, and only have to save an extra $5,000 a month!

Once you have a realistic monthly goal, keep moving backwards.  For example, you’ll probably need to adjust your weekly budget, make a plan to increase your income, and maybe set up automatic transfers out of your paychecks.

Now, you’ve taken that massive 5-year big dream goal and broken it down into practical steps you can take towards it today.

Will your plan be bulletproof?  No!  Will it be perfect and complete and accurate?  Of course not!

You’re going to hit bumps and detours along the way.  You’ll adjust.  Don’t put pressure on yourself to come up with a perfect plan from the start.  That’s impossible anyway, so let that expectation go.

The important thing is to break down your 5 year goals into pieces small enough that you can start taking action right away.

Step 3:  Take daily action

Okay!  You’ve got a vision and a map.  Now it’s time to take the action necessary to move you toward your goal.

Don’t let this step paralyze you.  In other words,

  • Don’t spend too much time thinking about which action to take first.
  • Don’t spend hours on Google, reading about “how to effectively reach your goals.”
  • Don’t second guess your map or start doubting your vision.

Of course, there are probably several small actions you can start taking now toward your 5-year goal.  Just pick one.  And do it.

Don’t overcomplicate the process.  It’s our minds that usually trip us up, tricking us into thinking we’re doing it wrong or missing a step or we’re not ready or yada yada yada.

It’s a process.  And you’ll be learning as you go.

So pick an action, and do it.  That’s the easy part.  The hard part comes when you hit some resistance.

Maybe you get in an accident and total your car.
Maybe your mother gets sick and needs to move in with you.
Maybe you lose your job.
Maybe you get a divorce.

These are all circumstances that can really throw you off track.  You need to decide now – what action am I going to take when I’m faced with adversity?  When my willpower is shot?  When I experience a setback?

Yes, you must plan the practical steps, like making a budget or getting a second job.  But it’s just as important to plan what you’ll do when you don’t *feel* like taking another step.  When you’re ready to give up.

Decide ahead of time how you will handle difficult situations.  Create an action plan for setbacks.

In addition, here are a few practices you can do daily to help you stay on track:

  • Read affirmations that build your belief and confidence in accomplishing your goals
  • Review your goals and remind yourself why you have them
  • Visualize your dream life 5 years from now, and connect with that future person you want to become
  • Read books and blogs, and listen to podcasts and audiobooks that educate, motivate and inspire you toward your goal

These four things alone, if done daily, will strengthen your resolve and commitment into a powerful force that will break through any barrier and overpower any circumstance.

Here’s a 5 year plan example to give you some inspiration:

3 Steps to a 5 Year Plan Infographic

Get your free 5-year planning guide today and start building the future you want!


Where will you be in 5 years?

The only way you won’t find out is if you’re dead – and you can’t really plan that.

You can either plan your life, or just accept life’s plan for you.

You can either be closer than you’ve ever been to living the life you’ve always dreamed of … or still wondering what if?

Which will it be?

I encourage you to take some time to envision your life in 5 years.  Ask yourself questions like these:

  • What do I want my daily life to look like?
  • What new skills will I have learned?
  • How do I want to be helping others?
  • How much income do I want to be making?
  • How will I have improved my health, my relationships, my faith?
  • What will I have completed on my bucket list?

Then start planning.  Not just tomorrow’s to-do list or this summer’s vacation plans.

Be intentional about creating a 5 year goal plan that can give you the life you want.

Take full responsibility and start creating the future you want, today.

This is your one and only life.  Don’t leave it to chance.

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Calendar with text overlay: 3 simple steps to a 5 year plan

How To Plan 5-Year Goals In 3 Critical Steps

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