Why 5 years?

Why not 3? Or even where you see yourself one year from now?

Conventional wisdom says that we have to have a plan for the next 5 years. But maybe we don’t really have to.

What if your dreams are so big that you don’t know how you are going to accomplish them? What if they are so big that you should take great care in who you share your dreams with?

And how can we see where we will be in 5 years when we can’t even plan for the year ahead with great accuracy? This is why I can’t answer you if you ask me whether I’ll remain in Australia for work after I graduate. Well, see how it goes.

It’s not that I don’t plan things. But most things just don’t allow you to plan so far ahead.

Shorter planning cycles

On one hand, Ursula Jorch advocates a 12-week planning cycle for new businesses. On the other hand, Jason Fried and Davis Heinemeier Hansson, founders of Basecamp, recommend a 6-week project cycle in their book.

Of course, some projects will stretch across months or even years, such as construction projects. But if businesses can have such short planning cycles, why do we think we need a 5-year plan for ourselves individually?

I think a better way would be to have a shorter period for concrete plans. It could be for 6 weeks. Or it could be for 2 or 3 months. The ideal duration probably varies from individual to individual. It might even change according to your circumstances. Personally, I think 1 month is ideal.

Where are you heading towards?

However, having a vision for your life is not the same as having a plan for your life.

A vision points you in a certain direction. A plan tells you what to do in the future.

A vision can help you to learn what to say yes and no to as opportunities come your way. A plan might keep you stuck when opportunities do come your way.

I think that you would need to have a general idea of the direction in which you are heading. And this general idea could be for a longer timeframe. Whether you want to imagine your life for the next 5 or 10 years, it’s up to you. You could even imagine multiple possibilities for your life.

Maybe you want to be contributing to a few different causes throughout your life, whether it’s climate change, poverty, inequality, or corruption. Perhaps you dream of being part of the fight in these issues. But you don’t know how to. Maybe you don’t have to choose only one. You could do them all, as long as you keep in mind that you probably can’t do them all at the same time.

So instead of thinking about what you will be doing in 5 years, maybe think about where you are heading towards. Who knows what kind of opportunities you will attract when you remain crystal clear on your vision, yet remain flexible on what you do?

Instead of worrying about where you will be in 5 years, think about what’s the next step that you can take? Maybe an opportunity coming your way next week can change the trajectory of your life forever?

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