“So, tell me, where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” I’m sure many of you have heard this question before, at family gatherings, out for dinner with friends and most commonly while in an interview. The answer to this usually entails parts of life such as climbing up the career ladder, getting married and having a family. While all these things are important, have you ever sat down and properly thought about where you would like to be in five years, including all the achievements and experiences in between?

Most believe there are benefits to creating a structured five-year plan, while others argue that it adds stress and pressure to their already busy lifestyle. This article explores the benefits and drawbacks of developing your own personal plan and will make you consider whether one would be useful for you.

One of the main advantages to having a five-year plan is that it helps you find out your purpose by asking yourself ‘why do you have the objectives you do?’ It’s important that you look at each of your aims and goals and make sure your goals are relevant to your true intentions. For example, your aim may be to become rich but the reason for wanting to become rich may be to go on more holidays, so your true goal is to travel.

It enables you to refine your goals by figuring out your objectives and exactly why you want them. This is where the SMART measurement comes in useful, this method encourages you to make objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. With the Career Development Centre in University of Waterloo states that a plan of action will provide the necessary inspiration needed to achieve your future objectives.

Implementing a 5-year plan will also help motivate you to take action in achieving your goals. Breaking down each part of the plan into a quarterly or yearly basis will help you stay on track and work towards turning each goal into a reality. It will also help you to get advice from different industry experts on how to achieve your goals, you can ask for advice on certain parts of the plan, how to achieve them, if there is anything to add and so on.

One of the main disadvantages to creating a plan is no follow through, this means the time and effort that has gone into it has been a waste of time. Or even worse, there could be a follow through, but the reality, facts and assumptions of the plan have been too unrealistic for it to work. This can be demotivating as some people become too consumed with making the plan work.

Others argue that five years is too long of a time period, with the New York Time’s Virginia Heffernan revealed that around 65% of today’s grade school students grow up to work in jobs that didn’t exist during their childhood. So, if the working world can develop and grow in short periods of time, how is a person meant to stick to their original five-year plan without changing their mind or developing themselves. Therefore, every year you should review the plan and make any changes.

The five-year plan method definitely has a mix of lovers and haters, but after weighing up the pros and cons, what’s your thoughts? Do you think it will help boost your motivation into making your dreams a reality or does it become more of a hindrance than a help?