Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Why You Need a 5 Year Plan

In 1928, Stalin launched the first of thirteen "Five Year Plans" for the Soviet Union. At the time, the Union was in a state of poverty and disrepair with life expectancy low and infant mortality shockingly high. The idea was that the plans would ultimately lead to a communist utopia in the form of a hugely advanced industrial economy, a "powerhouse" of industry. The plans generally looked to address the shortfalls in the USSR's agriculture, transportation, communication, health, education and many more areas but the main emphasis of these plans was always centred around power and capital goods. The attempt to convert a starving, depressed nation into a western economy brought huge suffering to the people of Russia. In fact, the famine of 1932 which was caused by the disruption associated by "Collectivization" (aggressive land farming) caused the death of millions of people. This fact was vehemently denied until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1990, despite the fact that the census of 1937 revealed a population loss in line with the deaths associated with World War 2 in its entirety.

In 1936, the Nazi Party launched their very own Five Year Plan (this actually turned out to be a Four Year Plan) in order to ready themselves for war. Hitler put Hermann Goring in charge of this plan and awarded him a tremendous amount of power and control over the economy. His decision was to invest in military resource at the expense of civilian economic growth. In short, Goring led Germany into war-readiness.

Why is this relevant to your own Five Year Plan? It absolutely isn't.

I distinctly remember the first time I sat myself down and put pen to paper. It was March in 2011 and I was absolutely lost in life. I found that the path I was headed down had a big bloody "No Entry" sign at the end of it and I had no idea what the hell I was going to do as an alternative. I found this list a few weeks ago and it gave me a chuckle, the outline of it's contents are below:

  • Finish Uni, get bit of paper from Uni, put bit of paper somewhere safe

  • Show bit of paper to get a job (must be able to get a car, afford rent and probably food)

  • Finish TEFL thing (Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification)

  • Use job to save money and go to teach English in Thailand

  • Stop drinking all the time

I don't think that when I wrote this list it was a Five Year Plan and I can tell you categorically that I only achieved 2 out of the 5 simple objectives that I gave myself (I didn't go to teach English in Thailand and I definitely did not stop drinking all the time) but it felt good to staple this to the corkboard on my Uni room wall even if I avoided looking at it when I felt like I wasn't quite on track.

My Five Year Plan is something I use now and is an evolving document. I got a graduate job in IT Sales that I accidentally LOVED, scrubbed teaching English off the list and replaced that goal with "Buy a House". Yes, it took me nearly 4 years to get to contract exchange on my house but if I hadn't sat down and thought about what I wanted back in 2011 I wouldn't have ever started saving.

Things change. What you want now hardly ever equals what you want in 5 years time but the point is that you've created a plan of execution to achieve the things you think you want, and somehow the goals you achieve are always the most important ones anyway.

I hate the sense of apathy that exists in the young people around me. I don't understand why ambition in the 18-25 age group is such a taboo subject. I don't understand why people are averse to consider the fact that in order to succeed (whether to you this means earning the most you can, raising a family, doing the job you are born to do for pennies, or even planning to never have to work a day in your life) you have to plan to execute against something rather than hoping on a wish and a prayer that it will all be gifted to you on a plate. I hate hearing "You are so lucky to be where you are" on a weekly basis. Yes, that will sound conceited but it happens. I don't believe in luck; I've worked bloody hard at getting myself what I want and I'm proud of that.

Tonights' homework; spend an hour writing down everything you want from life. This might be "a mansion and a rich husband". It might also be "A trip to Brighton" or "Dem new Nikes". Hitler wanted world domination, nothing is off the cards. Remove "luck" from your life plan & take a stab at making the very most of the time you've been given.
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