Make a plan for five years from now
I loved this message from Elizabeth Gilbert today.
Dear Ones —
So this little quote showed up on my Instagram feed the other day, and it hit me in the guts — like "OOF!"
I can't stop thinking about this idea, so I thought maybe I should share it here and open up the conversation around this concept.
First of all — does everyone understand what the quote is saying?
Here's the simpler translation:
"If you don't have a plan for where you're going to be in five years, then — after five years has passed — you will still be exactly where you are right now."
Holy cow. That's bracing.
A little scary. A little exciting.
Look — maybe you absolutely love your life, exactly where you are right now. Maybe you feel like, "If my life looks just like this in five years, then I will be the luckiest person in the world." If so — awesome! Just keep going just as you are, you blessed soul, and count your lucky stars.
But maybe you can't bear your life where it is right now. Or maybe you feel stuck and you want to shift things for yourself. Or maybe you like your life, but you dream of something new.
If you haven't put some kind of concrete plan in place for how to change things, then it is very likely that five years will pass (more quickly than you can imagine) and you will "already be there” — which is to say, you will still be right here.
So let's talk about making plans.
My wonderful husband always says that our past doesn't matter nearly as much as our PERCEPTION of our future. So let's carefully try to perceive our futures in the best possible light. If you can imagine that your future might hold some promise, some difference, some transformation...then happiness can start to grow, even in this present moment.
What might it take, to perceive a different future for yourself, five years down the line?
I've heard that the only way to make your dreams come true is to begin by writing them down. I do think this is the truth. Writing down your goals and dreams creates a disturbance in the universe — calls down the attention of your guiding spirits. Writing down your goals also causes a disturbance in your own soul — wakes you up, and makes you take notice of your own desires.
So this is my Friday challenge, everyone. Take a moment today and write down exactly where you want to be in five years. Be honest. Be brave. Be ambitious. Be aspirational.
Who do you want to be spending your time with (romantically, or otherwise) five years from now?
Where do you want to be living?
What do you want your health to look like?
What do you want your creativity to look like?
Where do you want to be working?
What do you want to have put behind you by then?
If you are dreaming of an escape plan, what might that escape plan look like?
How much money will it take to make that dream come true — REALLY?
What are you willing to give up, in order to have what you really want?
Do you honestly need all the things (and people) that you think you need, or might there be a smoother, simpler way?
And what steps can you imagine beginning to take right now...to transport you from HERE to THERE.
Because one way or another, five years is going to pass. In half a decade, you will either be standing exactly where you are right now, or you will be standing somewhere completely new. You might even have turned into SOMEBODY completely new. (Biological science teaches us, after all, that five years from now, every cell in your body will have been replaced, and thus you will be a completely different biological entity than you are right now. Talk about a resurrection story! Pretty cool, right? So how about becoming a completely different emotional entity, as well?)
I made my list this morning: WHERE LIZ WANTS TO BE IN FIVE YEARS.
My list surprised me. My list involves getting rid of even more of my material belongings, giving more to charity, and living on a beach. My list involves a lot of travel with the people I love most. My list involves a trip to Japan. My trip involves driving across Greenland, and walking trip along the coast of New Zealand. My list involves writing for a TV show. (WHO KNEW?) Most of all, my list involves a radical emotional shift in the way I handle resentment, forgiveness, anxiety blame and shame — which might mean I need to be doing some serious work on my psyche over the next five years.
OK, then! I'm up for it!
I didn't even know I wanted all these things...but apparently I really want these things.
Now that I have seen it all written down, it has become real. Now I must work toward getting there.
What about you?
Five years from now. Picture it.
WRITE IT DOWN.
Make it real.
I'll meet you in five years, everyone — and we can compare notes!
Pedar and I wanted to move, so we made a plan and made it happen. We had to pay off our cars, our credit debt and fix up the house to sell and we did it. It took about two years of cutting back and really working towards our goal. We know making a plan works.
The last two years we haven't made a real plan. We've just have been getting used to the bigger mortgage and the house projects that come with buying a fixer-upper. My biggest plan was to change jobs, and I did, so that's good! But now, its time to plan again. Without a plan I'm just coasting, not being deliberate, wasting time and energy. It is time to write down where I want to be in five years. Here is a bit of my five year plan:
1. No debt, except mortgage.
We are close to paying off our credit debt and then we need to pay back Pedar's retirement money that we borrowed for house. Thank you, Dave Ramsey.
2. Actually have a savings. An emergency savings and one for living. We've been all right with putting money towards our retirement accounts, but our savings has never had a big hug all these years. We typically wipe it all out with a house project.Then the credit card gets too much attention and the vicious cycle repeats over and over.
3. More travel. On an airplane. Not in a car. Somewhere FAR.
4. Not working full-time in an office. Don't really know what that looks like. Maybe I am technically still working full-time, but I want flexibilty. I want to be home more after school with kids.
5. Complete garden/landscape design. Complete classes. Receive some kind of certification.
6. College plan for kids. Put money away monthly for kids for college. Need to figure that out sooner, rather than later. We're not really on top of this at all.
7. Dance and Sing more. Need to let my freak flag fly. I love dancing. LOVE IT.
8. Be physically stronger. I want to embrace an exercise routine so I can feel more confident. I'm done being a smaller, flabby person. I want to rock some shorts and skirt. I want to feel HOT. I've wasted too many years feeling meh.
9. Plan an adventure. Maybe we take a sabbatical in five years and live somewhere else in the world for a year. We rent or swap houses and just go and experience the world.
10. Share money, time and talents. If I can help anyone with the skills I have, I want to do that more. I have helped with resumes and writing websites. I've helped with the kids schools auction and small projects, but I want to really put myself out there and help others. I want to give more of myself. I want to feel like I am making a difference. I think I will meet so many awesome people if I put myself out there more. I know my time is limited, but I know I can find time to connect and help.