If you’re contemplating your career path and where and what you would be doing in the future, you may want to consider making a 5 year plan. A plan comes in handy when you want to achieve certain goals or develop certain skills to be where you want to be professional. 

A plan, regardless of type, sets you in the right direction and minimizes wastage of time and resources. 

In this article, you will learn about steps that will help you develop a viable 5 year plan, its benefits, and some helpful templates and examples. 

But first, you need to be clear on what a 5 year plan is and all that it entails. 

What is a 5 year plan?

A 5 year plan is a strategic long-term plan to achieve either personal or professional goals. It is a detailed plan that includes ambitions, milestones, and timelines. There are separate goals for each part of the planner’s life such as career, personal, relationship, or financial goals. 

A 5 year plan is a concrete plan that steers you in the desired direction. It has small goals for you to accomplish first in order to achieve the big picture goals. 

For instance, your long-term goal is to buy a big house. In that case, a small goal could be to start saving some money every month. 

Similarly, if you see yourself as a digital marketer, in the long run, you may consider enrolling yourself in a business school or doing diplomas in the area of your interest. 

Now that you have learned what a 5 year plan is, the next step for you is to understand how to make one. The next section will take you through guided steps to come up with a comprehensive 5 year plan. 

Why 5 Years?

Are you wondering why people make 5 year plans and not one or ten? Well, 5 years is a long period but not too long. It is long enough to give you ample time to lay down a roadmap that will help you reach important milestones and achievements. However, it isn’t that long either that you procrastinate and lose track of time, goals, and motivation. 

Goals planned to achieve in a year are short-term and far easier to accomplish. It is the 5 year plan that requires vision, comes with roadblocks, requires brainstorming and tweaking here and there. As a consequence, they are more rewarding. A 5 year plan can sometimes seem impossible to achieve but it is an anchor that keeps one determined and motivated to turn their dreams into reality. 

How to make a 5 year plan?

A plan, whatever it may be, has to be actionable and achievable. It should have realistic attainable goals so that you are able to achieve them in a specific time frame without any major obstructions. The goals should be measurable as well so that you can evaluate where you stand and how far are you from your target. 

With careful planning, you can formulate an attainable plan for yourself. The steps below will help you create a 5 year plan in a jiffy. 

Consider your goals 

A good starting point is to analyze your current situation, that is what you’re currently doing. Are you enjoying your work? Do you want to continue doing the same or switch gears?

Based on your analysis, evaluate where you want to be in the next 5 years. 

You don’t have to be specific at this point and can simply jot down broad goals that you can narrow down further. If you’re confused about what you want to do in the next 5 years, you can start off by making a list of things that motivates or makes you happy. 

Whatever your goals are, make sure they are SMART which are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable 
  • Realistic 
  • Time-bound 

Write your reason for pursuing a goal 

Once you have identified your goals, you need to back it with sound reason and logic. For instance, if you are a junior HR associate and see yourself as an HR business partner in the next 5 years, you should be able to answer the reason behind it. 

Is it because the field interests you? Do you want to work on the strategic aspect of HR? 

It is important because if you’re not clear about why you are doing what you are doing, you may not have the drive to see it through. Moreover, having concrete answers here could help you crack interviews too.

Evaluate your skills and experience 

Now that you’re confident in pursuing your goal, it’s time for you to evaluate your skillset. Do you have what it takes to accomplish your 5 year plan?  Is there a new skill that needs to be added to your plate?

Make a comprehensive report of knowledge, skills, and experiences that you have accumulated over the years. See how it can help you in making a breakthrough. 

You also need to identify what additional skills, knowledge, and experience you require to climb up the ladder. But there is a prerequisite to it. Find out in the next section. 

Conduct a thorough research 

It is advisable that you carry out extensive research before deciding on what new skills to acquire. 

Browse the internet, speak to mentors or professionals in the field, consult colleagues and friends. Another resource that can be helpful is LinkedIn. Linkedin is the hub of professionals who have been working in their respective fields for years. Connecting and networking with those on the same career path as yours can help immensely. What is better than getting the wealth of information from the horse’s mouth? 

Create a monthly and annual plan 

Keep in mind that your 5 year plan is a long-term plan and may seem impossible to achieve if not broken down into goals that are smaller in scope and scale. 

First, set annual goals that will help you reach your 5 year plan. For example, if you see yourself as a digital marketer in the next 5 years, your first annual goal will probably be to familiarise yourself with digital tools and knowledge. 

Next, you will have to break your annual goal into small monthly goals. Monthly goals will be short-term, attainable and of course, time-bound. 

Revise your plan as needed 

The pandemic has made us realize that life comes with unexpected twists and turns. It is all about uncertainty and unpredictability. However, one should be prepared to face whatever comes along. 

As you move ahead with your 5 year plan you may realize that there are certain aspects of it that are not working as expected. As you start working towards a certain goal, you might realize that it is not where your passion and interests lie. There is absolutely no harm in it because that’s what life is all about, right? Unexpected circumstances. 

You may also realize that breaking down your monthly goals into weekly goals helps you achieve your target or prevents you from swaying away from the directed path. 

Therefore, it is a good practice to revise and revisit your plan as and when needed. You would be surprised to see how far you have come and what other changes you can bring to speed up the process further. 

Benefits of creating a 5 year plan

A goal without a plan is just a dream. In order to fulfill that dream, you must have a plan because it gives you a perspective and direction to look to. A 5 year plan will help you transform your dreams into a reality. It comes with several benefits that will surely inspire you to make your own. 

Provides a starting point 

Whether your aim is to become an HR business partner or have your own start-up, devising a 5 year plan will give you a good starting point to begin your planning. You can write your goals and take tangible steps to accomplish them instead of wasting time. 

Creates Focus 

A goal without a plan is just a wish. You can only call it a goal once you have a plan in place. A plan creates focus and that is the gateway to success. When you are focused on accomplishing your goals you stay aligned with the plan, revising and reviving it every now and then to make it work better. A 5 year plan will constantly remind you of your ambition and will prevent you from going astray. 

Easy to execute 

Once your goals and ambitions are written out in the form of a plan, it becomes easier to execute and understand. You may still not have a clear path in front of you but you at least know where you have to reach. Moreover, it prepares you for the most dreaded interview question “Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?”. 

Gives Motivation 

If your 5 year plan is hung on your fridge or anywhere with clear visibility, you will stay determined and motivated to keep working towards it. The plan will keep reminding you of 

  1. What do you want to accomplish?
  2. How do you want to accomplish it? 

Needless to say, your plan will keep changing as it passes through different phases but it will give you a sense of purpose to wake up to do something productive every day. 

As mentioned earlier it is advisable to reevaluate and revise your plan as and when needed. However, focusing too much on minute details may cost you time and some golden opportunities 

Boosts Confidence 

The pandemic has changed our lives considerably. Industries and businesses which were doing well before have taken a toll while the underperforming ones have risen to new heights. If you’re someone who is anxious and stressed about switching careers or progressing in your existing career, then a 5 year plan will destress you partially, if not completely. 

When you have a plan in front of you, you at least know what you want and where you are headed. You are obviously not aware of the curveballs that life will throw at you in between but you feel confident enough to pursue your goal. And that is sufficient to get the ball rolling. 

Example of a 5 Year Plan Template 

An example of a 5 year plan is::

Objective: To become a digital marketer 
Year 1 Enroll in an MBA program 
Year 2 Research on digital marketing tools  and concepts such as Google Analytics, Google Trends, SEO, SEM, PPC
Year 3 Learn how to use digital tools, do some certifications 
Year 4 Apply for an internship in the field 
Year 5 Apply for a job in the capacity of a digital marketer 

There is no best template to formulate a 5 year plan. You can go by any that suits your needs or you can make your own. Templates need not be too complicated and can be as simple as the one below. 

Although it is a good practice to break down annual goals into monthly goals, it is totally up to the planner’s preference. You can even break your weekly goals into everyday goals depending upon the scale and complexity of the goal at hand.  

Annual Goals Monthly Goals Weekly Goals 
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
Year 4
Year 5

Have you mapped out your 5 year plan already?

A plan defines and clarifies goals. Turning goals into reality is contingent upon having a well-devised plan. If you’re looking to advance in your career or switch careers altogether, you need a comprehensive plan to make it a reality. 

There’s no fixed way or process of developing a plan. You can make one as per your own preference depending upon your end goal. You don’t have to go into minute details of each step, however, you should keep changing and refining small goals here and there to make it work better for you.