• Vicky Murray

Why I don't believe in 5 year plans

Updated: Jul 2, 2021

How many times have you caught yourself, or heard someone else, saying 'it wasn't meant to be like this'? It doesn't take a global pandemic to throw plans out of balance, you always have to account for that thing I call 'the blank piece of paper'. Have you heard of this before? If you haven't. let me explain it a little.

The blank piece of paper

Like you, I have uttered 'it wasn't meant to be like this' more than once. Largely in the last week where not only is my year looking very different to the one I had planned, but my life also.

For those not familiar with the blank piece of paper, one of my favourite terms (yes, that was tongue in cheek), it is, in theory, the strategy that helps us keep plans on track, or at least able to bounce back when things go awry.

The blank piece of paper signifies the things we can't predict (like a global pandemic) or say, your landlord putting your house on the market in midst of said global pandemic, when you are returning to work and properties are scarce (yep, that happened).

We've all been impacted by COVID-19. It's the blank piece of paper nobody could have predicted. Who would ever have included that in their plans? Similarly, a forced change of circumstance is hard to predict, from house moves to job redundancies or wage cuts linked to said-pandemic. That blank piece of paper still has power.

Power of the blank piece of paper

I love a good plan, but the blank piece of paper theory is also why I don't believe in having a five year or similar plan. It would be lovely if life followed this straight and uncomplicated line, but sadly that's not how life works. What I like to do instead is plan for the bigger picture.

Another term you are likely familiar with. The bigger picture is what we ultimately come back to when that blank piece of paper suddenly starts having words written on it. When sanity can threaten to leave and control seems impossible. The bigger picture reminds us to pause. Take a breath. Recalibrate and work out what it is we need to do to keep moving towards the reality of that bigger picture.

Tips for moving forward with power

Now, this isn't always an easy task, and it's not always one you can complete alone - help is definitely recommended here if needed. For today, I want to give you my top three tips on how to keep the focus on that bigger picture and remind you that I am always here to help you keep moving closer towards it.

  1. Define what that big picture is. Sound simple but so many of us aren't sure what it is. That's ok. Take some time. Sit. Walk. Do whatever you need to get clear on WHAT it is you want and WHY you want it. How will you feel when you have it? Why is it so important above anything else? The power in what you write is what will ground you in times of uncertainty.

  2. Who will you call on if your recalibration needs help? This isn't simply a case of who or where can you obtain extra money or help to move home. From your circle of friends, family, contacts, what strengths do they have that you do not? How could you ask them for help if needed? Who would be there if you needed that help?

  3. It's ok if plans change or your bigger picture does. Yes, you have permission to change your mind, to change your end destination. We are conditioned to make decisions about our whole future at such a young age, we don't even really know who we are at that point. It's only natural that those choices may change as we become clearer on that. And you now have permission to change if you think you need it.

I hope these tips have helped and I'd love to hear how you are using the blank piece of paper technique, so leave a comment to let me know how its working for you.


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