How To Create Your 5-Year Vision (even when you don't know where to start)

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When we first started Thrive Lounge, we hosted several events in our local community. At one event, people were invited to attend as the person they wanted to be in 5 years. Throughout the night, attendees would visualize their future by speaking as if they'd already accomplished their goals. 

At the end of the night however, we learned that many people struggle with visualizing their future and wanted to know HOW to create that five year vision in the first place.

That's when it dawned on me that while I think about my goals all the time, (I have goals lined up in increments of 1 ,5, 10 and 15 years. #obsessed) some people are still struggling to envision their 5-year goals, let alone anything further out. 

Heck, a lot of people are unclear about their vision for this year.

So, I took a step back to think about how I created my 5-year vision.

Here is what I came up with: 

 

STEP ONE: THE BRAINSTORM

Creating your 5-year vision isn't as easy as picking a goal out of thin air. (If you do it that way, you'll realize that you’ll end up changing your goals very quickly and very often. You will also be easily distracted by shiny objects.)

Instead, take an entire day (or week) to ask what you want out of life and write all of your ideas down.

Feel free to create a list of as many ideas as you can think of. BIG ideas - this is your future, your vision - NOTHING is impossible. Write everything down.

Just do me one favor, will you? As you're brainstorming, ask yourself one important question: 

WHAT WOULD I DO IF THERE WERE NO RULES?

Here are a couple more sample questions to get you started: 

  • What did you always want to do as a kid?

  • What's your life mission?

  • What's are your values?

  • What impact do you want to have on the world and other's lives?

  • What do you want to be different than it is today?

Growing up, I always wanted to be a member of Destiny's Child. (Moment of honesty: I even wrote a letter to Beyonce telling her about my singing abilities and asking her to create a "Children of Destiny's Child" girl group. I WAS DEAD SERIOUS.)

In elementary school and junior high, I spent my afternoons creating dance routines and singing in my room. In high school, I spent my free time writing songs and doing performance poetry. When I thought about my 5-year goals, I definitely wanted to get back to singing, dancing and writing. 

 

STEP TWO: MAKE A DECISION: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH RIGHT NOW?

You really can do anything you want, but the reality is no one (not even Beyonce herself) can do EVERYTHING at the same time.

To give your dream the opportunity to be successful, you must make a firm decision to pursue that dream - and only that dream - until you have reached the goal.

OK, I hear ya screaming at me "That's too hard! I am multi-passionate and have several interests! I can't choose just one!"

Rather than tell you something generic like "do what makes you happy" or "pursue your passion" I'm going to be honest with you (like incredibly honest):

Choose the goal you're best positioned to accomplish right now.

Depending on where you are in life, there are some goals that you're in a better position to accomplish than others. This doesn’t mean that you can’t eventually do them all, but you have to pick one to start with

Here's an example from my life: 

Three years ago, I was working three jobs (and still struggling to make ends meet) but I really wanted to catch up on my bills, go to grad school, and start a business.

So….I started doing all three.

I had pretty much stopped sleeping in order to start a blog and learn to code. When I could find a tiny pocket of time, I studied for the GRE. (all while still working my three jobs).

After 3 months, I had gotten #nowhere.

Then one day, I simply asked myself "what should I do first?" And then it hit me. 

If I took the GRE first, then I could go back to school and get a better job. With a better job, I would have enough time to sleep AND create a side hustle.

Shortly after this revelation, I funneled ALL of my energy into studying to take the GRE. That fall, I found myself strutting down the halls of business school. 

Think about your specific situation... 

  • If you have young children, you may not want to pursue a goal that takes you away from home.

  • If you have worked in a certain industry for five years, you have unique skills that will give you a competitive advantage in reaching a goal related to that industry.

  • If you have extra time on your hands, maybe you could spend that time creating a side hustle.

This doesn't mean that you have to throw your other dreams away. It simply means to grab the low hanging fruit, crush it, and then get started on your next goal. Being multi-passionate is a beautiful thing, but pursuing six goals at the same time means that each of your goals only get's one-sixth of your focus. It’s hard to be really successful only using one-sixth of your effort.

 

STEP THREE: OUTLINE

All goals (if they're big enough) will require you to step out of your shell a bit and do something new.

You may have to learn new things or re-train your brain to think a different way. (Don't worry, it sounds scary, but it's not. We all evolve everyday - this just means your evolution to your next move will be intentional.)

The next step in figuring out your vision, is outlining what it will take to get there.

Through creating an outline, you are doing several things. First, you're researching what it will take in order to reach your goal. Second, you're gaining an understanding of the distance between where you are and where you want to be. Third, you are breaking down your big hairy audacious goal into smaller bite-sized goals that are easier to accomplish. (More low-hanging fruit. :) 

To get started on your outline, ask yourself these questions: 

  • What skills will I need to accomplish this goal?

  • What classes do I need to take?

  • What relationships will I need to build?

  • Are there any experts out there who I can learn from?

  • What will I have to do in order to accomplish this goal? (Don't skimp on this one! Be very detailed about your action items. This will help you in the long run.)

 

STEP FOUR: CREATE THE BIG PICTURE

Most people think about their vision in terms of their professional life. I love that more women are placing a strong focus on their career, but that mentality will make you Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada. #LonelyAtTheTop

Let's be real, a rich life is full of happiness, adventure, deep connections with family and great friends - in addition to monetary and career success. So take some time to brainstorm on what you want out of the other areas of you life

To get started, write one sentence about what you want to you want your life to look like in each of these areas: 

  • Family

  • Hobbies and Creativity

  • Personal Relationships

  • Exploration and Adventure

  • Self-Care

  • Money

  • Career

  • Spirituality

 

STEP FIVE: CREATE THE VISION

Now that you have an idea on the big goal that you want to accomplish as well as the secondary goals, let's put it all into one, solid paragraph. (Pro tip: Try for 3-4 sentences - and it's OK to revise it a bit.) Keep revising until you get it down to only the most important elements that you want to include in your life. 

 

STEP SIX: BE OPEN TO CHANGE

While I don't like to be ambiguous, I will break my own rules when I have to. When you start down the path of accomplishing your goals, you never really know where it will take you. Be open to new opportunities coming your way - as long as it is in line with your values and will still take you in the direction of your life's mission. You’ll lose focus if you take every opportunity that comes your way, but there also may be some pretty cool ones that you shouldn’t pass up.

Creating a 5-year vision is not easy. It takes a commitment to trying to uncover what your really want out of life and thinking about how to get it - without neglecting the other important areas of your life.

At the end of this activity, take a second to imagine what your life would look like at the end of your journey. After having accomplished the goals that you went after, ask yourself one question: "Am I happy?" If you've answered "YES" then you did it right. If not, try again until you're happy with your vision. 

Happy Dreaming!
xoxo

 

Ready to Start Living Your Dream Life Now?

1. Get clarity on your next big goal with the FREE Big Vision Reflection Checklist

2. Take a FREE personal development class on CreativeLive.

3. Design your dream life with the Vision Board Planner, our step by step guide to creating vision

boards that work.


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Create A Vision Board That Works

Download the FREE Big Vision Reflection checklist to build a vision board that will help you create MIRACULOUS change in your life. Enter your email to subscribe to the newsletter and grab the freebie:

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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her workbook, The Vision Board Planner, gives women a step-by-step guide to create a super effective and life-changing vision board.