Do you have a five-year plan? Are you a goal-setter or do you prefer to “muddle through”? For some the idea of making a written life plan is a no-brainer, while for others it sounds like an idea from an alien planet.
Making a plan for the future is a strategy that can help when life feels chaotic and directionless. A five-year plan can help you take steps and get moving in a direction that you want to go. Take a moment and think about your life. Where are you now, and where do you want to be in five years? For many, if not most of the readers of this blog, the plan is “learn to live well with bipolar”. But how does that look in detail, in every area of your life?
Try filling in the following table, setting specific goals for yourself in each area. Start with one-month goals that can be realistically attained – meeting them will give you a boost and a sense of momentum to keep going on your five-year plan. In the box for Year Five, put your vision of how you want your life to be, then go for it! Start working on the steps in each area of life.
|NOW||ONE MONTH||ONE YEAR||TWO YEARS||FIVE YEARS|
Here are some simple examples, just to get you thinking: you will want to write your five-year plan in your own words, of course.
One month: set and establish a regular morning wake-up time and morning routine.
Five years: Active and fit year round. Mastering new things. Health problems stable. Healthy balanced diet and regular sleep.
One month: understand better how my own diagnoses are being treated and discuss my medication needs with my care provider in detail.
Five years: Generally calm. Balanced mood. Not avoiding difficult issues or conflict.
Five years: Maintaining broad group of friends. Getting out twice a week to spend time with friends. Planning and having trips or other activities with people. Spending time with top ten friends at least once a year in person.
One month: Take time to think through and analyze how I have approached romantic relationships in the past, what worked and what didn’t.
Five years: Be three years into a relationship with at least ten more years to it.
One month: Have a meaningful phone conversation with each close family member.
Five years: Spending a week a year with close family. In once a month contact with each member and involved in life of nieces and nephews.
Five years: On track with a savings plan for retirement. Can afford to the things that I want to do. Have repaid the last 8 years of debt to myself.
One month: Request needed accommodations at work.
Five years: One main job with a clear role and future growth but limited short term risk.
Five years: Owning a house that is ample and comfortable but not extravagant, in a location that I choose.
One month: visit one or two local meetings of groups that seem interesting.
Five years: Doing worthwhile things with my life.