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How and Why to Develop a Three Year Plan

February 16, 2018

I know that this post is a bit of a departure from our regular content but I find this exercise so constructive, I think it’s worth sharing.   I know that so many of you also run your own businesses, but even on a personal level, this exercise can be very clarifying so I recommend it to anyone, no matter what stage of life.

Just over three years ago, Will and I took a crash course in business.  It was a wonderful, life-changing investment.    The lessons were very straight forward and helped us think strategically about what we wished to achieve and how to get there.    One of the first lessons in the course is to develop a three year plan.    The thought is daunting at first and so it is important to recognize that this is an evolving document, there is no right answer.

The guiding principal is that the more clear your vision is, the more likely it will be to come true.   Perhaps it’s even more difficult to decide what you actually want than it is to get there, although of course that’s not without its hurdles either.  She, the teacher, uses this example:  say you’re designing a kitchen and you say that you’d love it to be white and blue, but you don’t specify whether you’d like it to feel like a French country kitchen or a modern and clean.   You will most likely end up not loving what the designer has chosen, which is why the more specific you are with your vision, the more likely you are to end up exactly where you wish to be.

In ours, we were living in Charleston (we hadn’t moved yet), had a baby, were in a loving relationship with a solid group of friends around, in a financially stable place where we could live comfortably, had a house and an office which we could walk to.   I even imagined the outfits I was wearing, and of course it was way more specific and in depth but I know that this is what we had in mind in March 2014 because I found our exercise when I was clearing out the closet preparing to move into the office.  I couldn’t believe how much of it had come true in just three short years.

Why three not five?  It’s just a more manageable number; we all have changing visions and expectations; this exercise is designed to give you enough time to meet specific goals but not think so far ahead that you’re likely to not be able to predict where you are.

Now, to the exercise, which is spin off from this course which I recommend whole-heartedly:

Write a journey entry three years from today, where are you sitting?  What are you doing?  What’s it like outside?  What have you just done?  What did you do this morning?  What will you do this evening?  What have you eaten today?  What is it you do for work, for pleasure?  How many people do you work with?  What’s the status of your relationship?  Your family?  Your friends? Your finances?  How do you feel emotionally?  How is your health?  And so forth…

The idea is to think through the state of well, everything.  You can even separate it out onto different sheets of paper, say one for each:  family, personal, work, emotions, health, etc.  and do a brain dump in each category to help you distill what is most important.    As ridiculous as it sounds, this exercise helped us decide to move to Charleston (because the warm weather is very important to our emotional state) over Seattle, where we had lots of family support.   We were surprised to draw this conclusion but are very happy where we live.  Of course, introducing a child to the equation has shifted our priorities a bit so now it’s time for us to make a new plan too :)!

5 Comments

  • Reply Faith February 16, 2018 at 8:47 am

    I am completely doing this with my husband. I like the idea of being very specific of what it is we want our lives to look like in 3 years. Loved this post.

    • Reply Lucy Cuneo February 23, 2018 at 12:08 am

      I really love it — hope you tried!! xx

  • Reply sam February 16, 2018 at 10:44 am

    This is so relevant! My boyfriend and I just sat down the other day to map out our 3 year plan. He’s the finance savvy one so he took the lead, but I’ll have to take the course you recommended so I can show up during our next “Financial Date Night” and wow him.

    xo Sam
    http://www.thecurrentclassic.com

    • Reply Lucy Cuneo February 23, 2018 at 12:07 am

      I really really love this exercise, you’re clearly killing it but so fun to work on dreams xx

  • Reply Chelsey Nelson February 26, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    This exercise definitely seems like a great tool in light of that Harvard study that’s consistently referenced in regards to the likelihood that you’ll achieve your goals if you write them down. A 3-year plan sounds so much more manageable than 5 years! Thanks for sharing, Lucy! Seeing how well it’s worked for you (along with your own effort and discipline of course) is inspiring!

    Warmly,
    Chelsey

    http://www.chelseynelson.com

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