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

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Throughout the year, we host events that help women unlock their true potential. (I know, it sounds really corny, right?) I believe that when you're put in the right community of people all looking to connect and collaborate and learn from each other, you're in a unique position to elevate your life.

Our last event invited attendees to act the entire night as the person they wanted to become in 5 years. To me, it was the perfect environment to explore your future opportunities and introduce and speak as if you've already accomplished your goals. I intended for it to be miraculous - and it truly was. (Seriously, check out the gallery here. #Shameless)

At the end of it all, however, we learned from our faithful (and incredibly honest) #ThriveSquad that some people wanted more information on creating that five year vision for themselves. That's when it dawned on me that while I think about my goals all the time (Like seriously, I have goals lined up in increments of 1,5,10 and 15 years. #obsessed) some people are still wondering how they get to that point of even deciding what their 5-year vision is going to be. 

So, naturally, I had to take a step back and think about how I got to this point and how I came up with my 5-year goals. Here is what I came up with: 

 

Step One: The Brainstorm

Coming up with your 5-year vision isn't as simple as picking one goal out of thin air. (If you do it that way, you're realize that you change goals very quickly and are easily distracted by shiny objects along the road to accomplishing your goal.) Instead, take an entire day (or even three) to dig deep inside yourself and ask what you really want out of life. (Yes, your entire life.)

What are all the things you want to accomplish in your lifetime? Better yet, what did you imagine yourself doing as a child? 

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 middle school, 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. As an adult (aka. when reality set in and my parents realized I was good at math and science) I found myself on a path leading my to become a doctor and to be honest, I wasn't sure how I got there. 

Does that story sound familiar to you? If it doesn't, don't worry! Here are a few things that you can think about as you're brainstorming - and feel free to create a list of as many ideas as you want and as big as you want - this is your future, your vision - NOTHING is impossible. 

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 sample questions to get you started: 

  • What did you always want to do as a kid?
  • What's your mission?
  • What's are your values? 
  • What impact do you want to have on other's lives?

 

Step Two: Make a Decision: What do you want to accomplish right now?

I always tell people that they can do anything they want, but the reality is no one (not even Beyonce herself) can do EVERYTHING at the same time. To give your dream the great opportunity to be successful, you much first make the 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 a little (read: incredibly) honest with you: Choose the goal you're best positioned to accomplish right now.

Depending on where you stand in life, there are some goals that you're in a better position to accomplish than others. 

Here's one example from my life: 

Three years ago, I was working three jobs (and still struggling) but I really wanted to catch up with my bills, go to grad school and start a business. At first, I tried doing all three. I was working three jobs, not sleeping and attempting to learn to code and study for the GRE when I could find a pocket of time. After three months, I'd gotten nowhere. Then one day, I simply asked myself "what should I do first?" And it hit me, if I took the GRE, I could go back to school and get a better job. Then, I wouldn't have to work three jobs and I could sleep normal hours and create a side hustle. Once I funneled all of my energy into taking the GRE, I took the GRE and I found myself strutting down the halls of business school the following fall. 

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 over your competition. If you have extra time on your hand, maybe you can spend that time creating a side hustle. 

(Side note: This doesn't mean throw your other dreams away. It simply means take the low hanging fruit, crush it, and then get started on the 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. #FOCUS)

 

Step Three: Outline

No matter what you choose, all of your goals (if they're big enough) will require you to learn some new skills and step out of your shell to do something new. You may even have to re-learn some 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 to reach your goal. Second, you're gaining somewhat of an understanding of the distance in skill between where you are and where you want to go. Third, at this point, 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, don't be afraid of a little research. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • What skills do you need to accomplish your goal?
  • What classes do you need to accomplish your goal? 
  • What relationships will you need to build to help you accomplish that goal?
  • Are there any experts out there that you can learn from? 
  • What will you have to do to accomplish this goal? (Don't skimp on this one! Be very detailed about what accomplishing this goal will take. This will help you in the long run.) 

 

Step Four: Create the big picture

No, unfortunately (or fortunately), outlining what it takes to complete your goal is not the end of the vision. To be honest, it's just the beginning.

Most people that think about their vision for their life are imagining what they want to do with their professional life. I love that more women are placing a strong focus on their career, but that mentality will get make you Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada. #LonelyAtTheTop

Let's be real, a rich life is full of happiness, deep connections with great friends and family and adventure - 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, just 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

 

Step Five: Create the vision.

Now that you have an idea on your 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 and do it today. When you start down the path of accomplishing your goals, you never really know where it could 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. 

Creating a 5-year vision is nowhere near easy. It takes a commitment to trying to uncover what your really want out of life and strategizing on 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 that journey, after having accomplished those goals and 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

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