5 year plan

In five years I will still be married to my wife.  Our four children will be 16, 15, 12, and 11.  We will still be living in our current house, but we’ll have a new deck, new windows throughout, and a new driveway.  I (or my business) will own five rental houses, which will provide a good chunk of our needed monthly income.  We’ll own a minivan or similar vehicle capable of transporting all six of us, and a smaller vehicle for short trips.  We will have no debt other than our primary mortgage, and we will have sizeable equity in our home.

OK, your turn.

This little exercise will tell you a lot about yourself and your goals.  Answer these basic questions for yourself.  Be realistic, but don’t be afraid to dream a little, either.  Anything reasonable is great.  I’m a mid-30s kind of guy, so my five-year vision might be a little different than yours.  If you’re just starting out, you might dream of things like higher education, a place of your own, or settling down with that special someone.  If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, you might dream of shuffling off the 9-to-5 and sailing around the world, or taking the grandkids to Disney World.  Whatever it is, commit it to paper (or electronic bits).

Now, do you think you’ll make it?  What if you could reach your five-year vision in three years?  Or, what if you could do twice as much in five years as your vision states?  Would that be worth something to you?  Would it be worth doing something crazy like, oh, I don’t know, skipping one meal out each month?  Or one less soda a day?  Could you cut back on driving or other energy bills?

Chances are good you know somebody who never spends any money, someone you think of as “cheap.”  When you’re out buying your third iPod, they’re listening to the radio.  When you’re showing off your new ride, they’re putzing along in their 1998 Rust Bucket.  Chances are also good that this person has thought about their own five-year plan, and is working to make it happen.  Five years from now, when they are happy and debt free and you are still in the same position you’re in now, it’ll be their turn to laugh.

Or maybe they won’t laugh.  They won’t notice you because by then, they’ll be on to their next five-year plan, and probably a ten-, twenty-, and 100-year plan.  Think big.

This article originally appeared in the October 1, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.
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