All of this planning that we do; the lists, calendars, planners, they all come down to the same thing. We are trying to not live in reaction to life. That’s what it really does come down to. When we plan, we are saying to ourselves and the universe, “I have no intention of just taking life as it comes. I know what I want, and I’m going to get it. Here, then, are the steps I intend to take, to get it.” That’s why we love planning.
And so we make our plans. We make plans based on what can we do this year, and what can we do this month, this week, today, right now! And that’s where the universe gets back at us. Right now is out to get us.
Surprises don’t wreck your plans for the year, they wreck today’s plan. (Unless it’s a pretty damn big surprise.) You’ve got this best laid plan for your time, and it goes awry.
Maybe if it happens once, you’re okay. You bounce back the next day like it’s no thing. Maybe you’re able to use the advice from last week to jump right back into things.
Or maybe not.
When life has happened too many days or weeks in a row, that’s when you need your long game plan to keep you steady. Knowing where I’m going is the thing that’s helped me the most when the days are too short by far.
Wait, you don’t have a long game plan? Well, then we should make you one.
Tools you will need
Okay, this is totally up to you. I wrote my 2016 five year plan in Evernote, but last year I wrote it out on paper and decorated it with washi tape.
Step one- Daydream. Where would you want to be in five years, if everything went just as you wanted it to. Personally, in five years I’d like to be writing full time.
Step Two- What’s it going to take to get there? Be realistic. My dream is hard. I make a decent amount of money at my day job, and I’ll need to make a lot more than I’m making now writing to even go back to part time. But, that’s why it takes five years, not one.
Step Three- Take inventory of where you are right now. Are you making any progress toward this goal? What is it? No judgements, this is just a check in.
Step Four- This is a fun step. Figure out where you’ll be in five years if you keep doing just what you’re doing now. I honestly don’t mean this to be a criticism! There are probably lots of things you’re doing now that will lead to great things in five years if you keep at it. For instance, let’s say you’re currently spending thirty minutes a day writing. Well, what could you have done in five years? Quite a lot, I’d imagine. Probably at least three books.
But take an honest look at the end result of that list. Will you be satisfied with yourself in five years if that’s where you are?
Step Five- Break down your goals over the next five years. Personally, I intend to write five new Woven novels, publish three to four books a year, and pay my rent with writing money. That’s it, just my rent. That’s the goal for the next five years.
More than that, though, think about where you really want to be in five years. Do you want to still live where you’re living? Do you want to work where you’re working? I don’t. The house is nice, but I have dreams of living in Pittsburgh and writing full time.
Step Six- What do you need to change about how you live? That’s kind of what this comes down to. Where you are now is a direct result of how you’ve lived up until today. You’re not going to get somewhere different by living the same way. Maybe you need to work harder at your writing. Maybe you need to start saving money,(me). Maybe you need to get your work out more and stop being scared of that.
Step Seven- This doesn’t have anything to do with writing, but I’m turning thirty this year and I’m starting to worry more about my health. How old are you going to be in five years? I’ll be thirty five. I’m starting to consider what I need to do to be healthy in thirty five years. Take my vitamins, get exercise. Do yoga so I can still tie my own shoes. Attend my doctors appointments, and quit ducking them like a punk.
So, your actionable item for the week is to make your own five year plan. Don’t make it just for your writing. Make it for your life.
Then, don’t get bogged down by your weekly lists. It’s okay if things didn’t go according to your plan. Keep your eyes on the long game, because that’s the one that matters.