A five year planner and calendar on a desk

Self-Improvement Secret Weapon: The Five-Year Plan

Military spouses must frequently make personal sacrifices in support of their service members. But an outdated presumption persists that spousal support and personal pursuits are mutually exclusive concepts. So, what’s the secret weapon for making your own dreams come true, too? A five-year plan can do the trick!

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” A five-year plan allows you to think strategically about your long-term goals and map out the steps that you need to take along the way. Planning helps you sharpen your focus so that executing the process is a breeze – even when you’re on the move. Seeing the steps to reach your dreams on paper can make it all feel more possible. If you have a plan already, dust it off and update it!

How To Make a Five-Year Plan:

  • Identify your big dreams and goals.
  • Research how to make them happen.
  • Break them down into little steps.
  • Tackle one item at a time.

Start by brainstorming. Here are three personal development categories to get you started on your five-year plan:


Have you ever been blindsided by an interviewer asking you about your goals for the next few years? Although it’s a pretty common interview question, it can catch you off guard if you haven’t given it some thought. If you have your five-year plan in mind, you’ll be ready to share your ambitions with potential employers. Plus, this can open you up to new opportunities down the road.

In an interview recently, I was asked about my five-year plan. I shared that I was working on a particular certification and hoped that, in five years, I would have enough experience logged to upgrade my certification to a higher level. I was hired for the original position, but I was also offered a second title and the opportunity to gain experience in that field. Dream big and speak up about what you’re willing to work for!

To map out your career goals, consider the professional path of a peer you admire or research what qualifications are necessary for your dream job. Bonus: You can talk to a Spouse Education and Career Opportunities career coach about your next professional step.

Education, Training and Licensing

Education can be especially daunting because there are so many avenues to take, but it is one of the best ways to set yourself up to accomplish your dreams. Start by figuring out what subject you’d like to pursue. Then investigate what schools offer flexible learning options so that your plan stays on track no matter where you move. You can also consider licenses or certifications that could make you a more competitive candidate for your dream job.

Want help figuring out what education plan works best with your five-year plan? Check out SECO. You can take assessments to identify your strengths, learn more about scholarships and research how schooling fits in with the career that you want. Plus, you can check what education plans lead to careers that move with you.

Health, Wellness and Relationships

It’s no secret that the military lifestyle can be stressful. A five-year plan should include less-tangible goals, too. Philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said, “Life is not merely being alive, but being well.” Your health, wellness and relationships are just as important as any other item in your five-year plan.

Do you want to build more relationships with people in your community? Strengthen your marriage? Adopt a child? Pay off debt? Become a stronger runner? Reach a free health and wellness coach or a personal finance counselor to get started.

Finally, it’s important to remember your big goals but approach those in digestible steps. Prioritize your personal goals and stay resilient with a plan that works with you and the many uncertainties of military life. As they say, making small steps in the right direction can turn out to be the biggest step of your life.

Check out SECO for info on Career and Education.

Check out Military OneSource for info on health and wellness, personal finance and more.

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