Your First 100 Days: Setting the Five-Year Horizon

When I first started planning for the year ahead by first looking back, then doing some vision work, then setting goals for the coming 12 months, this look at a 5-year horizon wasn’t part of the work. Having spent a good portion of my career writing or facilitating 3-5 year strategic plans, I’d seen the majority of those plans sit on shelves collecting dust after the first 12-18 months. So I decided to limit my personal planning to that shorter timeframe.

Last year I realized what was missing, though, was the kind of far view/near view that’s like driving on the highway, shifting eyes between the next mile marker and the horizon.

So I added something that was helpful for me and that might be helpful for you, too. If you’d rather stick to year ahead planning only, just come back on Friday. Deal?

(Just tuning in to this series? Welcome! Here’s the scoop: I’m giving followers here a free walk-through of a course called “Your First 100 Days,” a structured approach to help turn ideas into action. The first post in this series is here.)

This exercise has two sheets that look like the images below. You can also, of course, use, blank paper.

First, fill in the blanks. And if you’re anything like me, that second sentence is a doozy.

Once you get past the idea of being five years older, jot down down notes about what you want to have done by the point you reach that age. Thinking of it that way – what you want to have done, not what you want to do – frames it a little differently from how you may have done in the past.

What do you want to have accomplished? How do you want to feel? What do you want to be?

Five year goals might sound like:

Five years from now I want to have …

…made peace with my past

…gotten a college degree

…written a book

…become fluent in another language

Yours might sound different from those examples, but what they should have in common is a similar timeframe. They should be things that will require more than the next 12 months.

Remember, the only person who will see this work is you. Be brave.

On the next sheet (also works with a blank sheet), jot down goals for the 3-5 years ahead. Tomorrow’s work will be to cull from the list, so write down as many as come to mind.

Enough for one day (night)?

Awesome. See tomorrow.


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