How to craft a 5 year career plan, How to Create a 5-Year Plan, How To Develop A Five-Year Career Plan: A Step-By Step



How to craft a 5 year career plan, How to Create a 5-Year Plan, How To Develop A Five-Year Career Plan: A Step-By Step

How to craft a 5 year career plan, How to Create a 5-Year Plan, How To Develop A Five-Year Career Plan: A Step-By Step

How is your career progressing? Are you at the right place, doing the right thing? The best answers are possible when you are working your career to a plan. While your daily and weekly task lists help you improve productivity, you need a long-term plan for direction and achievement of bigger goals. This is where a five-year career plan comes in. Prepare one for yourself as a road map to professional success as it helps you crystallise where you want to be, how to get there and what you need along the way. Then use this document to make your annual plans and measure your progress.

Know your ‘why’

Before you set goals, begin by understanding what drives you. This is also known as your ‘why’. What are your reasons or motivations for the academic and career choices that you have made till date? What is the impact you want to create or the future that motivates you? This is not about the material benefits that success will bring, but an emotional connect or reason that resonates with and energises you. Spend time to know your ‘why’ because that will keep you going through the inevitable challenges and setbacks that are part of every career path. Your internal clarity will bring conviction to your career aspirations and the drive to achieve them.

Where do you stand?

Next, create an inventory of your skills and abilities from your current role. What are the areas of improvement and the desired skills for this role that are currently missing from your toolkit. If you step outside your role, what are the competencies that are in demand in the market and your industry? Is the demand growing or reducing over time? How are your peers with similar skills performing in other industries This review gives you a perspective on your current status and it’s context. Separately, review your career journey till date. Which achievements are you most proud of? Where did you find yourself most engaged and fulfilled with your role and work? You can also use online tools on career assessment and career interest inventories to understand your attributes and preferences.

Choose your destination

Once you know where you stand, you are free to choose who you want to be as a person in five years, and where you want to be in terms of role, impact, income and satisfaction. Look for the career sweet spot that lies at the intersection of your talents, interests and market demand. Ask yourself questions around what kind of work you wish to do in five years? Which industry and kind of company do you want to be working in? What kind of accomplishments and recognition do you seek? What contributions will you make? What lifestyle do you aspire for? Write down your future in minute detail or use a tool like a vision board to create a vivid visual that is inspiring and motivating for you. Next, break down your vision into concrete interim goals. Define goals in terms of skills and qualifications you need to acquire, projects or assignments you want to complete, people and organisations you want to be associated with, and the milestones you want to reach or measure over five years. To create realistic goals and schedules, you can use Gantt charts or the S.M.A.R.T. (specific measurable achievable relevant and time-bound) framework.

Choose your path

Once your goals are set, you will find multiple options that lead to them. Map out the path that works best for you and have a plan B in place for contingencies. Ask yourself what resources or tools you need and figure out your plan for acquiring them. Identify the challenges and obstacles you will need to overcome or bypass enroute. Define what kind of person you need to be and, hence, which habits and routines you are creating to become that person. Finally look at your trusted support systems that multiply your odds for success. These include your mentors, managers, clients, partners, colleagues and friends. Map your network based on strength, relevance and involvement of relationships. How will you invest in and engage with these relationships over time to access advice and opportunities, showcase your abilities, and expand your influence? Lastly, breathe life into your planned path by putting it down in calendars or your favourite task trackers, so that you have a set of defined, scheduled and monitored activities that take you to your milestones.

Review and restore

Your five-year plan is not a one-time activity. It’s a living document that you would do well to review at least once a year. When you revisit it, evaluate your progress. What are your successes, failures, experiences and learnings? What new insights have you uncovered and external feedback have you received? All that you learn will help you boost your performance and satisfaction going forward. Meanwhile, along with your environment, you have evolved as a person as well, and can possibly see new opportunities that were not visible earlier. Use this information to change and update your goals.

Take time to celebrate the milestones you have achieved. Appreciate and reward your efforts to keep up your motivation levels. By reviewing, updating and extending the five-year career plan regularly, you keep it real and relevant and thus stay on track for success.



Your career does not exist in isolation and is an integral part of your life that includes your health, relationships, aspirations and spirituality. Hence, your career plan should fit in with and support your life plan. Start with the roles and identities you have in different areas of life and what these need from you.


What are the goals you have created for the next five years within these roles? Are you starting a family? Building a house? Growing a community? Add on the personal dreams that give meaning to your life and help you maintain direction. Some dreams lead you to larger roles and new identities.


List the core values and principles that you hold dear. Understanding your values helps you predict the kind of decisions you will find easy to take and stick to. To help figure this out, revisit the important milestones in your life and why you chose one particular path over all others.


What are the resources you possess that support your life and well-being? These are not just physical or monetary assets, but also your family, community, faith, etc. How will you invest in and grow your resources? Similarly, what are the liabilities that you carry and what is your plan for managing them?


Your life must include a healthy dose of joy through pursuits that serve no other purpose than the activity itself. Make both time and space in your five-year life plan for your passions, hobbies and interests. These enrich your life, add to your happiness and provide energy for your life and career goals.


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