A recent tweet from Dr. Amanda Bittner launched a discussion about five-year plans (with special H/T to Dr. Mirya Holman and her #MHAWS initiative!). I noted I was happy to share some resources I had organized a few years ago for a workshop on developing a five-year plan, and got a ton of requests. After sending out about a dozen emails, it hit me that it might be better just to put it all in one place! I found all of these resources from poking around on the internet, and can take no credit for coming up with the ideas. I’m grateful to others for sharing their ideas and work online!
I’d like to note that not everyone might be in a place in their careers/lives where a five-year plan makes sense. You might be in a transitional period – just defended, on the job market – or you might have a very clear path at the moment (one more year til you submit a tenure packet). But if you find yourself exiting a transitional period and not sure what to do next (e.g., starting a new job, recently promoted, etc.), a five-year plan might be right for you!
I’d also like to point out that I think it’s important to put personal goals on your plan as well. That could be financial goals, family plans, moves, travel/vacations, or other activities/hobbies/events that you want to make sure you include in your life.
Finally, it’s important to recognize all that you have accomplished already. It can be easy to focus on all that needs to/could still/must be done. And that becomes exhausting. A five-year plan should be revisited at the end of each year so that you can account for what you’ve accomplished and potentially recalibrate for what comes next. It serves as a great time to reflect on how much you did do during the year, instead of focusing on what’s left on the to-do list.
You can see an example of how I’ve formatted my own plan here. (Ed. note: I’ve removed my personal goals from the list for sharing, but you should include specific objectives!)
To get started, feel free to peruse this list of resources:
Nice ideas for a “total life” 5-year plan
SMART goals, career plans, and other helpful templates
Blank SWOT template
Personal goal setting tools (Not endorsing any of these specifically – and they’re more general, not necessarily career-related – but the tools can be helpful for those goals require daily or weekly attention, such as writing.)
You can find a template for a quarterly planner here: 5 Year Quarterly Planner
Using the S.M.A.R.T. framework to think through your goals is also helpful!
Good luck planning!