I love to make plans. I love to set out the steps, sketch out a timeline, and fill in all the details. Then, inevitably, I jump right in because I'm too impatient to let my plan unfurl. But recently, I was introduced to the idea of the two-year plan.
Let's say you want to make a big change in your life, maybe a new career, new relationship, or you want to go after some life dream. Quite often fear prevents us from moving at all, and then sometimes we decide "if not now then when?" and take the leap anyway. Two months later, we hit a stumbling block and fall flat on our faces. Plan aborted, dream shattered, back to square one.
Now, what if we did the unthinkable and created a two-year plan? What if we outlined the steps we'd need to take and backed into them, giving us a safer jumping off point to start from now.
I realize this isn't a new concept, and yet it's amazing how quickly we forget such a simple notion, so in case you need a refresher, here are some things to consider:
1. Take some time to think about what you really want, but more importantly why you want it. There are no wrong or right reasons for having a desire, but knowing what your reasons are can help you navigate the inevitable roadblocks and make decisions.
2. Have a contingency plan. In many cases, particularly if you're considering a career change or following a big dream, this is going to be a financial plan. How are you going to support yourself until you can get your plan up and running? And if you can't commit to your goal while maintaining your current job, how are you going to make enough money to keep you going for the next two years? Again, no right or wrong answers, but you need to know that you're going to live off the wealthy widow next door, or take a part-time job that will give you time to work the plan.
3. Break down your two-year plan into smaller steps. Start with big milestones and then break down the steps you'll need to meet them. I set annual and monthly goals, and then break them down into weekly tasks. I find that evaluating my progress at the end of each month helps to keep me on track.
4. Be flexible. "The best laid plans..." as the saying goes. Things happen, realizations strike, and goals change. Just because you've made a beautiful two-year plan doesn't mean you have to see it through, no matter what. Be honest with yourself. If things aren't working out the way you expected, it's okay to change the plan. It's your plan after all.
5. Be patient. Oh, if my mother could see me writing this. But, as someone who's turned leaping before looking into a fine art, I know of what I speak. Trust your plan, trust that it will unfold in its own time, and trust that a little patience now could save a lot of pain later.
So, what are you waiting for? It costs nothing to make a plan. And once you break it down into small steps, you may just find that launching your plan is not nearly as painful as you'd thought.