Are you the kind of person who likes to have every detail planned out for the next five or ten years of your life? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants, not knowing what you're doing next week? I fall somewhere in the middle. I've always struggled with creating much of a five- or ten-year plan, because I just don't know where I want to be, and I don't want to get too wrapped up in one plan because I know things are likely to change.
But I love having the details of my daily life planned out so I can manage my time well. I'm not a last-minute planner (just ask any of my friends or family members).
I tend to plan for about a year at a time. There was a time, when I was nearing my graduation from college, and shortly thereafter, that I could only plan about that far in advance. I could only plan out my classes, work, and living arrangements so far in advance. Things were too temporary for me to plan any further out. And I was surprisingly okay with that.
Even though I hadn't expected to embrace that timeframe so quickly, it gave me the balance of structure and freedom I had been looking for. It allowed me to be rooted enough that I felt comfortable making plans for the foreseeable future. And it also gave me the freedom to know I could change things later without feeling tied down.
I loved the flexibility I gained when I realized I don't have to pick one narrow path and follow it for the rest of my life. I can continue making changes along the way.
I feel sometimes like I'm still starting out, still getting my feet wet. But I'm working to build the kind of life I want by working to become the best version of myself. I've come to realize my happiness depends far more on how I live my life than what I do with my life.
I really like the one-year-at-a-time approach. It's a length of time that I can handle. It's far less stressful for me than trying to look at five or ten years at once. It lets me focus on smaller goals that are more attainable. And it prompts me to select a word to focus on each year.
Looking at only one year at a time helps me to focus on the things that are right in front of me, instead of spending all my time dreaming about where I might be in several years' time. It helps me narrow my focus and spend my time and energy wisely. Focusing on just one year at a time allows me to ask myself questions like:
"What do I want to accomplish this year-- personally, relationally, physically, spiritually, vocationally?"
"What steps do I need to take right now to work toward my goals for this year?"
"What things worked well last year, and what things didn't?"
"What's working well for me right now, and what isn't?"
From there, I'm able to make the changes I need and begin working toward my yearly goals. It feels far less daunting than working toward big life goals that I want to accomplish in several years, but gives me ample time to achieve them (usually; sometimes I change them or don't meet them, and that's okay too-- I can reevaluate them for next year!).
What do you think about taking a one-year view of your life? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!
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