What is something you really want to achieve? What are your dreams for your future?

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If you're not sure, that's okay! This Byte will help you define where you want to be in 5 years and help you create a plan to achieve your dreams.

Defining your goals and developing a plan to reach those goals can help you stay on track and get to where you want to be. Below are steps to help you define your 5-year goal.

Step 1

Think About the Big Picture

What do you want your life to look like in 5 years, realistically? What's important to you?

Here are some different categories to think about:

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  • Career

  • Education

  • Family

  • Health

  • Travel

These are just some examples of categories. There may be others that are more relevant to you.

Take a moment to write down what comes to mind when think about your future. Then, narrow your list down to the top goals that are most important to you.


How many 5-year goals should you create?

Step 2

Break It Down

To make reaching your goal more manageable, set smaller goals for each bigger goal.

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Break down your 5-year goal into smaller ones to keep you on track. Ask yourself the following question:

"What do I need to do in 1 year, 6 months, 1 month, and 1 week to reach my 5-year goal?"

Make sure that each smaller goal ties into the bigger goal. For example, your 1-week goal should be a step towards reaching your 1-month goal. Your 1-month goal should help you reach your 6-month goal, and so on.


5-year goal: Earn a master's degree in psychology.

1-year goal: Apply to a master's program.

6-month goal:  Compile all the necessary items to submit for admission into a program.

1-month goal: Research psychology programs and choose top three.

1-week goal: Contact psychology department at local university.


If your 5-year goal is to run a marathon, which of the following is an appropriate 1-year goal?

Step 3

Stay on Track

You've set your goals and broken them down into smaller goals. Now it's time to think about how you will stay on track. Here are some ideas:

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  • Create a spreadsheet in Excel with your goals and due dates.

  • Write down your goals and put them on your fridge as a daily reminder.

  • Recruit a friend or family member to be your accountability buddy.

  • Download a goal-tracking app on your phone.

  • Create a vision board and display it somewhere you will see it every day.

  • Set reminders months and years in the future on a calendar, such as Google calendar.

It's easy to get side-tracked and lose sight of your goals. Making a plan for how you will stay on target will help you towards reaching your goals.


Which of the following is NOT a good way to stay on track?

Things to Keep in Mind

You may run into barriers. Life doesn’t always go as planned and you may be thrown a few curve balls as you’re working towards your goals (hello, COVID-19 pandemic!). Adjust your plan as needed and keeping working towards your goals.

It's okay to change your goals. Sometimes, priorities change. Maybe when you started your plan, earning a promotion was really important. But a couple of years in, you decided that you'd rather go back to school and not work towards the promotion. That’s fine! If a goal loses its appeal, you don’t have to follow through. Change your plan to fit your needs.

Take Action

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Defining your 5-year goals is like having a road map for your future. It gives you a clear destination and helps you stay on track.

Take a few minutes to think about a 5-year goal you'd like to acheive. What's one thing you can do this week to help you reach that goal?


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