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What is a 5 year plan?

The benefits of creating a 5 year plan, how to create a 5 year plan in 6 easy steps, 5 year plan examples.

You may have heard of SMART goal setting (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals), but have you ever heard of HARD goal setting?

Society has been pushing SMART goals since the early ’80s, but a 2020 study found that people who set SMART goals are much less likely to love their jobs , while people who set HARD goals are 53% more likely to love their jobs. 

But, what are HARD goals? HARD goals are defined as: 

  • Heartfelt 
  • Animated 
  • Required 
  • Difficult 

They are goals for which you have an emotional connection, strong visualization, great urgency, and difficulty. 

While there are laudable aspects of SMART goals, the study shows serious problems regarding the ‘achievable’ and realistic’ aspects of SMART goal-setting. 

Methodologies that emphasize creating difficult goals are far more likely to be successful and generate higher employee engagement.

In this article, we’ll show you how to use HARD goals to make a 5 year plan, as well as show you two 5 year plan examples.

SMART goals vs. HARD goals - 5 year plan

A 5 year plan is a personal and/or professional list of goals that you want to achieve in the next 5 years. 

Oftentimes, 5 year plans include smaller, concrete goals, to help you achieve the larger goals on your list. 

For example, if a long-term goal is to buy a bigger house, then a smaller goal might include setting aside a certain amount of money each month to go toward a deposit on a home loan. 

Or, if one of your long-term goals is to be a certified nurse, then a smaller goal might include finding the best nursing program in your area or applying for a student loan.

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One of the best things about a 5 year plan is that it can significantly motivate you to create the life you want to live. Notice we said “create the life “ not just “achieve the goal.” A 5 year plan that works for you will be more effective if you think of your life holistically — how do you want to feel? What values will you be living? — as you create it. 

Whatever the specific goals you have in mind — whether it’s starting a business, becoming certified or developing expertise, competing in an event, having a child, or taking a big trip — a 5 year plan can help you move from dreaming into doing, wish into a reality. 

Here are some other benefits of creating a 5 year plan:

  • It creates a starting point for a career, start-up idea, or personal goal . If you have a goal without a plan, it may not ever happen. But, if you know you want to be a real estate broker by 2026, you’re in a better position to start the process and take actionable steps to achieve that.
  • It helps you stay focused and aligned with your ambitions, rather than your dreams constantly hanging out in the back seat. 
  • It’s a consistent reminder of what you’re aiming toward, and what you need to do to get there. 

The trick is: keep your plan as visible as possible, make sure it’s what you deeply desire, and make sure your goals are specific, measurable, time-bound, and HARD. 

What should be included in a 5 year plan? 

Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Visualize your life 5 years from now, and write down everything you see without thinking or judging . If any fears, doubts, or negative emotions come up, that’s normal. The key is to ignore them and not attribute any meaning to them.

Brainstorming your 5-year plan

Use the following categories to help you write your complete brainstorm. 

How do you want your nutritional health , mental fitness , physical health , and mental health to look in 5 years?

Are you interested in being vegan? Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to start a yoga practice ? Would you like to regularly meet with a therapist? 


Imagine your future professional relationships, friendships, and familial relationships. What do you want them to look like?

Do you want to join a networking group? Are you interested in starting a book club? Do you want to adopt a child? Do you want to take more trips with your partner?

Visualize your financial goals in these buckets: 

  • Bills 
  • Everyday expenses (i.e. groceries) 
  • Flexible spending (i.e. entertainment) 
  • Emergency savings 
  • Goal savings 
  • Investments 

What do you see?

Will you be contributing higher amounts to your 401(k)? Are you planning on saving for higher education? What do you want your emergency savings to look like? Do you want to save for a big trip?


What are your career and business aspirations?

Do you picture yourself leading a huge team or an entire corporation? Do you want to be a digital nomad? Are you planning on starting a blog? 

The truth is, the world of business and how people buy and use goods and services is constantly changing — and fast. Don’t get hung up on roles and titles. Especially if you’re early in your career, you will discover career aspirations and opportunities that don’t even exist today. That being said, spend time thinking about what types of activities interest you, what type of environment you enjoy, what type of impact you want to make day-to-day.

If you’re feeling stuck about your career goals, consider:

  • Taking career assessments
  • Making a list of various career paths
  • Finding the overlap between things you like and what companies are hiring for
  • Working with mentors
  • Building your network
  • Creating your own job or business that lines up with your interests
  • Listing your passions, values, skills, and interests, then finding or creating jobs that match some parts of the list

If you’re still unsure about your dream job, don’t worry. Go after jobs you’re interested in, learn from them, and eventually, you’ll come across pursuits you’re excited about. Many people also worry if they don’t have a passion. The reality is that pursuing interests and immersing yourself in the work is a good way to discover and develop passion . It’s also okay if you’re multi-passionate and interested in several jobs. 

Personal/spiritual/religious development

How do you want to grow personally and/or spiritually?

Are you interested in starting a home church? Do you want to work with a life coach or career coach? Do you want to meditate more? Would you like to start a gratitude or prayer practice? Do you want to build resilience ? 


How do you picture your future environment?

Are you living in a tropical bungalow in Bali? Are you in a newly decorated and renovated home? Do you have a custom pool in your backyard? Are you living with your family to save money? Are you embracing minimalism?


What kinds of hobbies will you have in the future?

Will you be snowboarding every winter and surfing every summer? Are you interested in joining a soccer league? Do you want to take up cooking or art classes? 


What kind of meaningful contribution would you like to be a part of?

Are you interested in volunteering for a vegetable co-op? Will you be tutoring kids on the weekends? Being a mentor ? Do you want to buy monthly groceries for one of your friends in need until they get back on their feet?

  • Focus your plan
  • Consider potential goals
  • Determine your 'why?'
  • Identify annual goals and create monthly goals
  • Research how to reach your goals
  • Adjust and revisit as needed

Here’s how to use your notes to create your plan:

1. Focus your plan

Take a look at your notes and decide which specific areas to focus on. 

You might decide that you’d rather focus on a few areas, like your health and career, or you might decide that you want to focus on all areas. 

Once you decide, grab a piece of paper for every area you plan to focus on and write the area of growth at the top of each. 

For example, if you decide just to focus on health and money, you’ll write ‘health’ at the top of your first paper and ‘money’ at the top of your second paper. 

2. Consider potential goals

Next, divide each paper into two columns. The left column will be for ‘goals,’ and the right column will be for ‘action steps’ or ‘skills.’ 

Then, decide which goals you want to achieve for each category. Remember that ‘specific’, ‘measurable’, and ‘time-bound’ are positive aspects of SMART goals. That said, the ‘achievable’ and ‘realistic’ aspects of SMART goals can deter you from going after more audacious goals. 

Challenge yourself to leave your comfort zone with HARD goals. 

This doesn’t mean setting goals with no chance of success. But, setting goals with, let’s say, a 50/50 chance of success is difficult and ambitious enough to give you a real sense of accomplishment when you succeed.

For example, on your ‘health’ paper, let’s say you decide to write the following in the ‘goals’ column: 

  • Be more active
  • Increase nutrients 

Then, you might write the following in the ‘action steps’ or ‘skills’ column: 

  • Eat raw and organic fruits and vegetables three times a day 
  • Walk for two hours a day
  • Take a daily multivitamin and add superfoods to morning smoothies 

Next, decide between long-term and short term goals:

How to breakdown your goals - 5 year plan

Review your list of goals. Decide which are better suited for short-term goals and which are better suited for long-term goals. 

For example, you might decide that being a teacher in Peru is a long-term goal while researching places to live in Peru is a short-term goal. You might start outlining your short- and long-term goals with a 30-60-90 day plan . 

3. Determine your ‘why?’

What’s your big ‘why?’ Why do you want to be a Teaching English Foreign Language (TEFL) teacher in Peru? 

Write your reason down and hang it in a place where you’ll see it daily. 

For example, “I want to be a TEFL teacher in Peru, so I can learn Spanish, help students develop their English skills, and fulfill my dream of exploring South America.”

4. Identify annual goals and create monthly goals

First, establish annual goals that will help you reach your 5 year goals. 

For example, if one of your 5 year goals is to adopt a child, then your first annual goal will probably consist of setting interviews with adoption agencies.

Next, break down your annual goals into monthly goals. 

For example, if your annual goal is becoming a TEFL teacher in Peru, your monthly breakdown could look like this:

  • Month 1: Research reputable TEFL programs and set online appointments with TEFL advisors to decide which program you like best
  • Months 2-3: Take your TEFL course, study for exams, and write essays
  • Month 4: Take your final TEFL exam and wait for your certificate 
  • Months 5: Edit your resume and look for a short TEFL internship
  • Month 6: Intern with a TEFL academy and ask for feedback from your mentors
  • Month 7: Create a lesson plan portfolio and start looking for jobs
  • Month 8: Set up job interviews 
  • Month 9-10: Land a job from one of your interviews and buy your plane tickets
  • Month 11: Move to Peru, find a furnished apartment, and get to know your neighborhood
  • Month 12: Start work at your new job as a TEFL teacher 

5. Research how to reach your goals

Next, research the best ways to reach your goals. 

If you plan on moving to Peru, are there some YouTube channels you can check out with tips on how to move? If you plan on creating a start-up, can you meet with some start-up experts that can mentor you? If you plan on learning how to bake macarons, is there a French macaron cookbook you can buy?

6. Adjust and revisit as needed

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. While the 5 year plan is designed to help you stay focused and persist despite bumps and detours, sometimes the unexpected is you.

As you start working on your goals, you may realize that your interests and passions don't quite align. This is where self-directed learning can help.

Plan for periodic review, reflection, and adjustment as part of life. If your long-range plan still feels right, zoom in to your monthly goals. Decide if your monthly goals are working or if you need to adjust them.

For example, you might find that trying to conduct online interviews with a Peruvian academy is impossible. So you could decide to fly out early to meet directors in person instead. 

You may also decide that creating weekly or even daily goals is essential to hitting your monthly goals.

Revisit and revise your plan as often as needed (at least once a year). You might be surprised at how fast you reach some goals while other goals might take a bit longer than expected.

Here's an example of a 5 year plan for a student interested in being a Certified Public Accountant (CPA):

5 year plan example #1

Here’s a personal 5 year plan example for someone interested in becoming fluent in Spanish:

5 year plan example #2

Creating a 5 year plan is one of the best ways to see your dreams come to life. 

At BetterUp, we love seeing individuals reach their fullest potential and achieve their dreams. Request a demo today to find out more.

Shape your future with a coach

Unlock your potential and achieve your 5-year goals with personalized coaching tailored to your aspirations.

Maggie Wooll, MBA

Maggie Wooll is a researcher, author, and speaker focused on the evolving future of work. Formerly the lead researcher at the Deloitte Center for the Edge, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from Princeton University and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Maggie is passionate about creating better work and greater opportunities for all.

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Essay on My Plans After Graduation

Students are often asked to write an essay on My Plans After Graduation in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on My Plans After Graduation

My goals after school.

After I finish school, I want to keep learning. I plan to go to college and study to be a teacher. I love helping others and think teaching kids would be a great job for me.

Traveling Dreams

I also dream of traveling to see new places. I want to visit different countries, learn about other cultures, and make new friends from around the world.

Helping My Community

Lastly, I want to give back to my community. I hope to volunteer at local places like libraries or animal shelters, because I believe in making the world a better place.

250 Words Essay on My Plans After Graduation

My future steps.

After I finish school, I have many ideas about what I want to do. First, I plan to take a short break to rest and think about my next steps. This time will help me relax after all the hard work in school.

Further Education

I am very excited to keep learning. So, I plan to go to college. I want to study subjects that interest me and can help me get a good job in the future. I will choose my courses carefully to make sure I enjoy what I am studying.

Getting a Job

I also plan to find a part-time job. This will help me learn new skills that are not taught in school. It will also give me a chance to earn my own money and learn how to manage it.

I believe in giving back to the community. I plan to volunteer at local organizations. This will allow me to help others and make new friends.

Staying Healthy

Lastly, I want to stay healthy and active. I will join a sports team or a fitness club. This will be good for my body and mind.

In conclusion, after graduation, I look forward to learning more, earning some money, helping my community, and staying healthy. I am ready for these new adventures!

500 Words Essay on My Plans After Graduation


After I finish school, I have many ideas about what I want to do. Graduation is a big step that means I am growing up and can start making my own choices. In this essay, I will share my plans for what comes after I graduate.

Going to College

First, I plan to go to college. College is a place where I can learn more about the things I am interested in. I want to study subjects that will help me get a good job in the future. I also want to make new friends and learn about different cultures. College will help me become smarter and more ready for the world.

After college, I want to find a job that makes me happy. I hope to work in a place where I can use what I learned in college. I want to help people and make a difference in the world. I know that finding a job can be hard, but I am ready to work hard and be patient.

I also dream of traveling to new places. Traveling helps us see new things and learn how other people live. I want to visit different countries, try new foods, and speak new languages. I think traveling is a good way to learn, and it can make me a better person.

Helping My Family

My family is very important to me. They have helped me so much, and I want to give back to them. After I graduate and start working, I plan to help my family with money and other things they need. I want to make them proud and show them that their support was worth it.

Saving Money

Saving money is another big plan I have. I want to save money for things like a house and to have a family one day. It’s important to think about the future and be ready for whatever comes. I will try to be smart with my money and save a little bit every time I get paid.

Staying healthy is something I want to keep doing after I graduate. This means eating good food, exercising, and going to the doctor when I need to. Being healthy helps us do our best in life. I plan to join sports or go to the gym to stay fit and strong.

In conclusion, my plans after graduation are all about growing up and taking care of myself and my family. I want to learn more, work hard, travel, help my family, save money, and stay healthy. I am excited for the future and ready to start this new part of my life.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

  • Essay on My Personal Ethics
  • Essay on My Parents Is My Hero
  • Essay on My Mother My Hero

Apart from these, you can look at all the essays by clicking here .

Happy studying!

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5 year plan after high school essay

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Ten 5-Year Plan Examples (For Inspiration)

5 year plan examples and definition, explained below

A 5-year plan is a strategic outline that sets forth objectives, strategies, and actionable steps intended to be implemented over a five-year period. Its purpose is to achieve long-term goals, and is used by a wide range of people and organizations – from governments to businesses to individuals and couples.

Your plan should provide a clear roadmap and framework for achieving long-term objectives by breaking them down into actionable steps and milestones.

Begin crafting your 5-year plan by setting clear, specific, and measurable goals, then break them down into yearly, monthly, or even weekly actionable steps, ensuring each action aligns with the ultimate objectives and adjust as needed for flexibility and responsiveness to change.

How to Create a 5 Year Plan: Rules to Follow

Creating a 5-year plan involves a structured approach to identifying long-term goals and breaking them down into manageable, strategic steps. Here’s a generalized guide:

1. Define Clear Objectives Start by crystalizing your long-term aspirations and aims into defined objectives, ensuring that each goal adheres to the SMART criteria – being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This foundational step provides a clear vision and purpose for your 5-year plan, acting as a guiding light throughout its duration.

2. Develop Actionable Steps Translate your long-term objectives into actionable steps, subdividing them across a logical timeline with distinct targets set for each year. This dissection of your overarching goals into smaller, tangible steps makes the goals seem more achievable and manageable and will help you to assess your progress along the way. You should have short-term goals that you can get started on immediately, which may be stepping stones along the way.

3. Implement and Monitor Embark on the journey by starting with the immediate or short-term actions that you set out in the previous steps. An ongoing monitoring process is important to ensure you are on track. Monitor on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, or quarterly) and make adjustments whenever needed to keep yourself on track.

4. Seek Feedback and Improve Continuously Actively seek feedback from mentors, peers, and professionals in your field, utilizing their insights to refine your strategies. Cultivate a mindset of continuous learning and be ready to adjust your path based on the knowledge and skills you acquire along the way. Maintain a growth mindset and stay adaptable to changes and new opportunities that may arise. Ensuring consistency in your actions and staying persistently focused on your objectives will build momentum towards your goals.

5. Celebrate Milestones Regularly acknowledge and celebrate achieved milestones, as this not only provides a motivational boost but also ensures that you’re recognizing and valuing your progress. One of the big upsides of having milestones in your 5-year plan is that you can measure progress by watching milestones tumble as you progress. Celebrate it!

Remember, periodic evaluations of your plan’s effectiveness are crucial. It’s vital to stay willing to modify your goals and strategies based on the insights gained during the implementation phase and any evolving external circumstances.

5 Year Plan Examples

1. recent highschool graduate.

Goal: “Within 5 years, I will achieve an entry-level job in my career of choice. To get there, I will need to excel at university and graduate with a strong resume.”

  • Year 1: Enroll in higher education, secure part-time work or an internship, and join related clubs for networking.
  • Year 2: Focus on specialized courses, gain practical experience through internships, and attend industry events.
  • Year 3: Assume leadership in campus organizations, initiate career-related projects, and enhance your professional portfolio.
  • Year 4: Complete degree, gain advanced experience via internships, and start a comprehensive job search in the desired field.
  • Year 5: Secure entry-level position, seek continuous learning opportunities, and explore potential career advancement pathways.

2. Teaching College Student

Goal: “My 5 year goal is to be an employed educator in my preferred subject of teaching. This requires me to graduate with a quality education degree, gain valuable teaching experiences, and network with educators and professionals.”

  • Year 1: Enroll in related training and coursework, join education-focused clubs on campus, and look for volunteer opportunities in educational settings.
  • Year 2: Narrow down a focus in your preferred subject, get practical training through tutoring or assistant teaching, and attend educational conferences or seminars.
  • Year 3: Engage in student teaching placements, initiate a project or research in your area of interest, and start networking by attending education career fairs.
  • Year 4: Complete degree with a focus on courses relevant to your preferred subject, gain further experience via internships or student teaching, and prepare for teacher certification exams.
  • Year 5: Pass the teacher certification exam, secure a teaching position, and seek professional development opportunities for continual learning and growth.

3. Business College Student

Goal: “In 5 years, I aim to secure an entry-level management position in my desired industry. I’ll need to graduate from a strong business program, gain practical work and leadership experience, and build my professional network.”

  • Year 1: Enroll in pertinent business courses, seek out internships, and join business-oriented clubs and organizations on campus.
  • Year 2: Focus on core business classes like finance, marketing, and operations, and secure summer internships. Attend networking events and workshops.
  • Year 3: Pursue specialized business courses based on your area of interest, take on leadership roles in campus organizations, and work on a project related to your chosen business sector.
  • Year 4: Finish degree with high grades, pursue an industry-aligned internship, and begin building a comprehensive job search strategy.
  • Year 5: Secure an entry-level business position, start networking within your chosen industry, and pursue opportunities for continuous learning and career advancement.

4. Young Couple in their 20s

Goal: “In 5 years, we aim to be financially stable, advance in our respective careers, and perhaps start a family. This will require careful financial planning, professional growth, and personal development.”

  • Year 1: Outline joint financial goals, start saving a certain percentage of income, and take roles that offer career growth.
  • Year 2: Focus on upgrading necessary skills for job advancement, look for investment opportunities, and start discussing and planning for family expansion.
  • Year 3: Check progress against career goals , increase savings and investments, and incorporate family planning into lifestyle decisions.
  • Year 4: Evaluate career advancement, reassess financial standing, and prepare personally and financially for the potential addition of a family member.
  • Year 5: Consolidate career positions, ensure financial stability, and consider starting a family, based on personal circumstances and readiness.

5. Married Couple in their 30s

Goal: “In 5 years, we aim to have substantial savings for downpayment on a house, secure strong positions in our respective jobs, and raise a well-adjusted family. This will require continuous financial planning, career progression, and balanced family life.”

  • Year 1: Re-evaluate financial goals and plans, remain committed to career advancement, and take proactive measures for work-life balance .
  • Year 2: Implement changes to career paths if needed, continue regular savings for house and emergency fund, and ensure a healthy balance between work hours and family time.
  • Year 3: Evaluate career growth and make adjustments as necessary, increase savings for the house purchase, and start considering suitable neighbourhoods/schools for family life.
  • Year 4: Secure strong positions in chosen careers, maintain a growing saving fund, and begin house hunting while ensuring the emotional and educational needs of the family are met.
  • Year 5: Finalize the savings for the house down payment, ensure job stability, purchase a house, and aim for a balanced family life with time for personal and professional growth .

6. Couple in their late 50s

Goal: “In 5 years, we aim to transition smoothly into retirement, secure our financial futures, and spend quality time with our loved ones. This will require financial planning, health management, and nurturing personal interests.”

  • Year 1: Evaluate financial standing and retirement savings, work to finalize career commitments, and pursue healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Year 2: Work on increasing retirement savings, plan succession in the job, and start exploring interests that could be pursued post-retirement.
  • Year 3: Review financial plans with a financial advisor to ensure a comfortable retirement, begin passing on important career responsibilities, and develop further hobbies and interests.
  • Year 4: Smooth transition out of working life, finalize retirement funds, and invest in health by joining wellness courses or activities.
  • Year 5: Fully retire, manage retirement funds wisely, retain active social life through hobbies, interests, and family, and ensure regular health check-ups.

7. Early Career Professional

Goal: “In 5 years, I aim to be in a leadership position within my industry. This will require professional development, networking, and a strategic approach to my career progression.”

  • Year 1: Set clear career goals, seek mentorship, and start building a strong professional network.
  • Year 2: Pursue opportunities to advance skills, whether through on-the-job training or further education, and deepen industry connections.
  • Year 3: Take on more significant responsibilities within your role, start attending industry conferences, and pivot your career path if necessary based on market trends.
  • Year 4: Seek roles with increasing responsibilities, continue professional education to stay updated, and expand your influence within your professional network.
  • Year 5: Secure a leadership role in your industry, continually update your skill-set to stay competitive, and solidify your position within your professional network.

8. New Business Goals

Goal: “In 5 years, our cafe will be a profitable, beloved local establishment, having expanded to a second location. This will require dedicated work in customer service, marketing, and business strategy.”

  • Year 1: Have a strong start with rigorous staff training, dedicated customer service, and an aggressive marketing plan to establish the brand.
  • Year 2: Consolidate operations through the refinement of offerings based on customer feedback, intensify local marketing efforts, and aim to break even financially.
  • Year 3: Enhance customer loyalty through reward programs and community events, initiate a profit-making plan, and start considering expansion ideas.
  • Year 4: Achieve a consistent profit margin, continue focusing on customer satisfaction while building a strong presence in the community, and start finalizing plans for a second location.
  • Year 5: Expand to a second location, ensure both cafes are profitable, and continuously work on the upkeep of quality, and customer engagement.

9. Mentorship Goals

Goal: “In 5 years, I aspire to have positively influenced numerous individuals in their personal and professional development. This will require continuous learning, networking, and enhancing my mentoring skills.”

  • Year 1: Understand your mentees’ needs, develop personalized mentoring strategies, and also focus on continuous learning.
  • Year 2: Improve mentoring skills through workshops and certifications, increase your network of professionals and keep up-to-date with industry trends.
  • Year 3: Offer mentees opportunities for exposure and growth within your network, seek feedback on your mentoring, and adjust strategies as necessary.
  • Year 4: Nurture long-term relationships with mentees, measure the impact of your mentoring, and seek new mentees, if capacity allows.
  • Year 5: Expand your mentoring practice by possibly writing a book, starting a blog, or hosting workshops based on your experiences and successes. Be proud of the positive impact you’ve made and continue refining your mentoring strategies.

See More Goals for Mentorship Here

10. Retirement Goals

Goal: “In 5 years, I aim to be comfortably retired, leveraging my savings for a stable financial future, and enjoying my interests and hobbies. This will require smart financial handling, health management, and personal development.”

  • Year 1: Finalize retirement savings and plans, tie up loose ends at work, and identify hobbies and pursuits of interest for your retirement years.
  • Year 2: Begin to transition out of work life and into retirement, adjusting your lifestyle to match your post-retirement budget. Start to engage more actively in hobbies and pursuits.
  • Year 3: Officially enter retirement, reorganize your finances as needed, and continue to invest time in personal interests and social activities.
  • Year 4: Ensure your funds are being managed wisely based on your lifestyle, maintain a balanced schedule with activities that bring you joy and keep you healthy.
  • Year 5: Continue to monitor financial status and adjust spending as needed, stay active by finding new hobbies and interests, and seek opportunities for lifelong learning and growth.

See Also: 10 Year Goals Examples

Before you Go

To get started with your goalsetting, I recommend using the SMART Goals format. Here’s a printable template I’ve provided for you:

smart goals template

Get the Google Docs Template Here


Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ Social-Emotional Learning (Definition, Examples, Pros & Cons)
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  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ What is IQ? (Intelligence Quotient)
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Home — Essay Samples — Education — Graduation — Life After High School: Setting Goals and Exploring Career Options


Life after High School: Setting Goals and Exploring Career Options

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Published: Sep 7, 2023

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The importance of setting life goals, the significance of career exploration.

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Essay Samples on Plans After High School

Plans after graduation: exploring career opportunities beyond college.

Rethinking Higher Education Every year in the United States, another wave of young men and women graduate from high school to begin their adult lives. Each one tries to decide what they want to do for the rest of their life. The culture, and most...

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College Dreams of Pursuing Criminal Justice

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Continual Growth in Life After High School

Celebrating My High School Journey First off, I have to thank everyone that has helped me achieve the goals that have made me become the person I am today. Especially, my friends, faculty members, teachers, and my parents. If it weren’t for them I wouldn’t...

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Planning for Life After High School

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Every so often in education, new ideas are introduced and spread across states and districts as if they had a life of their own.

The rise of individualized learning plans, or ILPs, may represent just such an idea. These personalized learning strategies strive to strengthen the transition between school and college or work while bolstering student engagement and family involvement in learning.

In 2005, 21 states encouraged the use of ILPs. Our research with the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth) indicates that today at least 37 states and the District of Columbia view ILPs as an anchor for their college- and career-readiness efforts. These plans, known by different names in each state, are typically required of all students, including students with disabilities and other special populations.

ILPs are different from, but closely related and complementary to, the transition plans that students receiving special education services are federally required to incorporate into their individualized education programs (IEPs) once they reach age 16.

When implemented as a whole-school program, ILPs are designed to engage all students in becoming career-ready by helping them define the secondary and postsecondary plans that will help them achieve their self-defined career goals.

In NCWD/Youth’s research, families reported that the process results in students’ taking ownership and becoming more engaged in their courses.

For students with disabilities, ILPs enable them to become more assertive in guiding their IEP meetings and ensuring that their transition activities help them develop the college-readiness and employability skills that are aligned to their career and life goals.

Based upon our several years of research in numerous states and schools, we define a high-quality ILP as:

• A document consisting of (a) coursetaking and postsecondary plans aligned to career goals, and (b) documentation of the range of college- and career-readiness skills that the student has developed.

District officials have reported that ILPs show promise in increasing enrollments in Advanced Placement courses and applications to college."

• A process that enhances the relevance of school and out-of-school learning opportunities, and provides students access to career-development opportunities that incorporate self-exploration, career exploration, and career-planning and -management skill-building activities.

Students typically develop the plans beginning in 8th grade and regularly revise them with adult mentors (teachers, counselors, parents, and other family members) throughout high school to reflect their shifting interests, needs, and learning experiences inside and outside of school.

In interviews with NCWD/Youth, district officials have reported that ILPs show promise in increasing enrollments in Advanced Placement courses and applications to college, and in encouraging students with disabilities to obtain a standard high school diploma and consider college as an option.

ILPs work effectively, in part, because students, not adults, take charge of the process. One promising activity we found involved using ILPs to generate annual student-led parent-teacher conferences.

During the conference, students discuss their career and life goals in relation to the evidence they have generated from self-study and career-exploration activities. They also talk about the in- and out-of-school experiences that will keep them on pace to achieve those goals.

The process also inspires students to seek out relevant community service and work-based learning experiences; helps them learn about job qualifications, industry standards, and postsecondary pathways; and enables them to describe how to gain access to resources to help with college planning, tuition assistance, and applications.

In focus-group interviews, families reported that the ILPs, especially when presented in the context of student-led parent-teacher conferences, increased positive regard for their schools and teachers. One family member said the schools “seem focused on launching adults” rather than only on increasing test scores.

While we have not yet released our final report, which was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor, we can share our findings on a number of exemplary ILP implementation strategies. These include:

• Providing support and professional development for teachers, school counselors, and administrators on the implementation and long-term use of the plans. This is critical to ensure that plans are implemented with fidelity and that everyone involved understands the process.

Additionally, implementation should provide teachers with advisory time during the school day to meet with students, and with curricula that includes grade-level expectations with career-planning elements. This promotes schoolwide buy-in that allows for a more effective and sustainable rollout of ILPs. Wisconsin, for example, is developing and implementing an intensive professional-development system that includes training modules and allows staff members in each school to build the competencies they need to implement ILPs effectively.

• Establishing a cross-sector task force to guide ILP implementation. In addition to state departments of education and labor, the state agencies involved can include those working in vocational rehabilitation, health and human services, and higher education. Education department representation should include school counseling, special education, and career and technical education. This allows groups to share expertise and leverage resources to support ILP implementation. It also increases access to work-based learning opportunities and preparation for postsecondary education.

Connecticut, for example, has established a statewide collaboration that oversees professional development and supports in-school ILP-implementation teams.

• Placing the responsibility for implementation not just on school counselors, but also on special education and general education teachers and administrators. Because all students can use these plans, all teachers, administrators, and members of the school support staff should be trained in how to prepare to implement them. Rhode Island, for example, has established clear roles and responsibilities for students, educators, families, and district administrators in its ILP framework to ensure all departments collaborate throughout the process.

• Ensuring long-term funding for online career-information systems that offer “ePortfolios.” Many districts struggle to pay for access to online career-information systems. Some states, such as Kentucky and South Carolina, have provided funds for a single state system that allows for electronic portfolios that transfer with students who move between districts, data for the state to use when evaluating outcomes, and the ability to offer streamlined professional development. At a minimum, states need to strongly encourage that any system meet industry standards.

• Establishing accountability systems to track program effectiveness. Accountability systems provide data to verify the effectiveness of ILPs by tracking student outcomes, graduation rates, and postsecondary pursuits. They also provide data on implementation fidelity by showing how many schools are implementing the plans, how many students are participating in them, whether schools have schoolwide buy-in, and how well the plans are being implemented.

Kentucky, for example, uses an accountability system that combines student data, program reviews, and educator data to determine the effectiveness of ILPs in schools, districts, and across the state.

We also have learned that the best implementation comes when states have a comprehensive strategy and a multi-organization and multiyear master implementation plan. States also need to connect their online career-information systems and ePortfolio data into their own longitudinal-data systems, and pay special attention to strategies to communicate to a broad range of stakeholders what ILPs are and how they benefit students, schools, communities, and the workforce.

If we are serious about ensuring college- and career-readiness opportunities for all students, we need to focus more effort on enabling students and their families to become more engaged in transition-readiness efforts well before they graduate. Properly designed and implemented, ILPs help students and their families strive to get the most out of their educational opportunities and successfully launch into a postsecondary training and education program and the world of work.

A version of this article appeared in the February 26, 2014 edition of Education Week as Making ‘Individualized’ Plans for a Postsecondary Future

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The 20-Something’s Guide to Creating a Five-Year Plan

You may be a year to two away from the “ quarter-life crisis ,” or you may be in its throes.

You may be two or three years out of college and wondering, “Is this all there is? I’m not sure I chose the right career.”

You may be 27, have received a promotion or two, and yet the excitement of the world of work/careers has started to wane.

As the years pass by after college graduation…

…many people in their first years of “real world” work discover one or more things:

  • They love what they do but find the excitement waning; it’s the same-old, same-old. (“Is this REALLY all there is?”)
  • They see that the career they once LOVED requires just too much work – providing no chance for a personal life – and they wonder if they really want to continue doing the 10-14 hour days For. The. Rest. Of. Their. Lives.
  • They see that the career they chose is not the right one for them now as they’ve changed a ton since they graduated college.

 And the pandemic certainly hasn’t helped

The Federal Reserve Board has found that 33 percent of people in their early 20s (GenZ) and 25 percent of millennials (mid-20s to late-30s), lost a job due to the pandemic (compared to just 14 percent of people in their late-50s/mid-70s (Boomers who haven’t yet retired). Thus, they are worried that a long gap in their work history will hurt them moving forward.

What’s more, another study released in May 2020 found that younger people reported much higher rates of mental distress than older people .

Quarter-life crisis defined

We like Forbes’ definition of the angst you may be going through now: when “your life is not what you thought it was going to be. It’s an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence.”

How a five-year plan can help

Whether you’re

  • stressed due to how the pandemic upended your work life;
  • finding that the world of day-to-day work, unfortunately, has become just as your parents said it would – predictable;
  • discovering that you hate your job and need to find another one pronto before it eats your soul to the core;
  • realizing that you’re not getting any younger and if you’re going to backpack the globe/start a business as you’ve always dreamed, it’s easier to do so now before marriage and kids come into the picture;
  • or you just want to “figure it all out”….

…a five-year plan can be the ticket to clarity.

( Note: The things you want will change. You’ll realize that the goals you HAD to meet in your 20s – but don’t – become SO much less important as you reach your 30s and beyond. Hopefully, this makes you feel a bit better and less stressed.)

Creating ‘the plan”

The most important step in creating a plan is to realize that it won’t move as you think it will. Things will come up. Interests and circumstances change. So your very first step in the plan’s creation is to “be flexible.”

Step 1: Brainstorm what you want in life.

This is where you can be as creative, wacky, out-of-this-world as you want. Think big. Everything is on the table. Don’t censor yourself.

Remember to not only think about your career but your personal and emotional/spiritual life.

Step 2: List your skills and experience.

This perhaps is the easiest part of the plan’s creation: you know what you know, you know what you can do (skills), and you know what you’ve done (experience).

Then take a look at all of them and see how it relates to the things you want to do as you listed in your brainstorming session.

Step 3: Research the ideas you wrote down in Step 1.

This probably is the longest step in the plan’s creation as you may have a lot of different interests/ideas/goals. As you research, look at what you need to do to attain them: more education, more skills, need to move somewhere new? What are the associated direct costs (tuition, move to a more expensive city, etc.)?

As you research, pay attention to your emotions. Are you finding that a great desire is becoming less desirable as you find out the costs/actions needed, etc.? Or are you undeterred? (That’s probably a sign that the goal/task/thing is something you definitely want to do, obstacles or no obstacles.)

As you research, make a list of people you need to talk to who can give you real-world insight into living them, provide advice on how to attain them, and so on.

Don’t worry that people won’t want to talk to you: most people are delighted to provide insight/advice. (People love being thought of as a guru.)

Step 4: Refine your goals/desires.

We can do anything we want; we just can’t do everything we want. And we can’t do everything at the same time.

Choices, therefore, must be made.

A five-year plan makes this a bit easier because you may only want to decide on goals that can be completed in five years or less.

(Or, if a goal can’t be completed in five years, create a sub-goal within it that CAN be met in five years.)

So determine what things you want to pursue first. They may be the easiest, the cheapest, the ones that have a definite deadline to them, and so on.

Number the goals in importance (the most critical or time-bound first).

Step 5: Create steps/goals/a timeline for each goal).

Consider making them SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound).

You’ll want to create a timeline for each goal so that you’ll know that when you reach a particular goal/step, you can then move on to the next.

Consider creating sub-goals for each (weekly, quarterly, yearly, etc.). Doing so allows you to track how well you’re doing in achieving your larger goals.

Step 6: Start doing the steps necessary to reach your goals.

In other words, you made the plan; now work it.

Step 7: Revisit your goals every six months/a year.

You may find that your desires have changed…again! They often do. Checking in with your goals will also help ensure that you’re on track to meeting them.

Looking to explore something of a career change?

Taking on temporary or contract job assignments can be a great way to see if a career goal is right for you. The Intersect Group has many such opportunities in finance/accounting and  IT .

Take a look at our current opportunities and apply for those that appeal to you. Also, don’t forget to register with us for future openings !

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How to Create a Five Year Plan with Your Teen

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A five year plan is a list of priorities you would like to accomplish over the next several years. As well as actions you can take when you make mistakes, so that you can still meet those goals. Your five year plan is a roadmap for success.

Why should students create a five year plan?

  • Setting goals drives motivation and can get your children to self-police their social media behaviors
  • Creating goals helps students become more conscientious of their actions
  • Have your student think about what they can do when social media obstacles arise. Students are bound to make mistakes but when they have a strategy in place, they can learn from those mistakes and move on in a way that doesn’t negatively effect their digital footprint
  • Having a strategy in place allows children to have fun and shine online while still meeting their college and career goals
  • Meeting goals boosts self-confidence in students

List 5 goals you want to achieve in 5 years

To get your student thinking about goals they want to set, ask them the following questions:

  • What is your dream school?
  • What awards would you like to receive in the next 5 years?
  • Are there any extracurricular achievements you’d like to make?
  • Do you want to get an internship in the next 5 years? If so, what internship?
  • What are some ways you can volunteer? How much volunteering do you hope to do?

How to create a strategy for success

  • Brainstorm with your student and come up with steps to achieve each goal
  • Ask your kids to think of actions they can take when they make social media mistakes that might hurt their chances of accomplishing a goal
  • Document your child’s answers on paper
  • Post that paper in a prominent spot in the house, like your fridge
  • Posting your student’s goals where they can see them on a daily basis is a great visual reminder for them
  • Whenever your child makes a social media mistake, take time to review their goals and strategies with them
  • Celebrate their victories with them when your teen achieves a goal

Students who set task-based goals get better grades

A recent collaborative research by Purdue University, University of California-Irvine and University of Florida showed that task-based goal setting significantly increased practice exam completion. Importantly, task-based goal setting also increased student performance in the course: Students who set task-based goals got better grades on average, and were more likely to achieve the top grades of A or A minus. These results suggest that if task-based goals are chosen appropriately, they can be used to improve educational performance and encourage students to make greater investments in their human capital.

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What to Do after High School

Last Updated: March 12, 2024 Fact Checked

Post-High School Paths

Things to consider, making your choice, expert q&a.

This article was written by Alicia Oglesby and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Alicia Oglesby is a Professional School Counselor and the Director of School and College Counseling at Bishop McNamara High School outside of Washington DC. With over ten years of experience in counseling, Alicia specializes in academic advising, social-emotional skills, and career counseling. Alicia holds a BS in Psychology from Howard University and a Master’s in Clinical Counseling and Applied Psychology from Chestnut Hill College. She also studied Race and Mental Health at Virginia Tech. Alicia holds Professional School Counseling Certifications in both Washington DC and Pennsylvania. She has created a college counseling program in its entirety and developed five programs focused on application workshops, parent information workshops, essay writing collaborative, peer-reviewed application activities, and financial aid literacy events. There are 14 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 21,480 times.

Congrats on graduating high school! You have so many options for what to do next—it’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed. We’re here to help! We’ll walk you through all of your choices, then we’ll give you some advice on how to choose what’s right for you. Keep in mind, you can always change your mind if you don’t like your first choice, so it’s okay to make bold decisions. This article is based on an interview with our professional school counselor, Alicia Oglesby. Check out the full interview here.

Things You Should Know

  • Pave your own path by freelancing or starting your own business.
  • Pursue a big goal, such as getting a job, going to college, studying abroad, or attending trade school.
  • As another alternative, learn job skills by doing an internship or apprenticeship.
  • Expand your world by volunteering or taking a gap year to travel.

Ask the wikiHow College Coach


  • Create your own website with a list of your services and a portfolio of your work. You might be a photographer or be a tutor .
  • Create a career portfolio if you’re offering writing or administrative services. You could become a virtual assistant or do copywriting.
  • Make an art portfolio if you’re an artist.

Step 2 Start your own business.

  • Sell your crafts, such as art prints, jewelry, or home decor.
  • Make and sell candles and bath products.
  • Open a boutique.
  • Create a service business, like landscaping, being a handyman, or cleaning houses.
  • Open a home daycare.
  • Build an online brand and be an influencer or professional gamer.

Step 3 Learn a trade.

  • Hair stylist
  • HVAC technician
  • Home Inspector
  • Electrician
  • Aircraft mechanic
  • Dental assistant

Step 4 Apply for an internship.

  • You might do 2 or 3 internships in the year after you finish high school so you can see what type of work you like the best.

Step 5 Get a paid apprenticeship.

  • Software developer
  • IT specialist

Step 6 Take a gap year to travel.

  • Take a road trip through the U.S.
  • Backpack through Europe
  • Explore South America
  • Teach English in Japan , China, or South Korea
  • Trek around Africa
  • Hike through the Australian outback

Step 7 Study abroad.

  • You may be able to get a scholarship to study abroad, especially if you have a financial need. Ask your school if they offer financial aid packages.

Step 8 Go to a college or university.

  • Get a feel for the colleges you’re interested in attending by going to college fairs and visiting the campuses of the schools you’re considering.
  • When you’re picking your major, get advice from your school counselor and talk to people you know to see what they enjoy about their job. Additionally, think about the topics that interest you the most.
  • You can start a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year college or do a 2-year associate’s degree at a community college. [8] X Research source To save some cash, you might do your first two years at a community college and then move on to a 4-year school.

Alicia Oglesby

Alicia Oglesby

Choosing the right college is about more than just the cost to attend. Look beyond the sticker price to consider more than just what tuition your family could realistically manage each year. Ensure the academic offerings match your interests and career aspirations. Get a feel for campus culture and vibe by taking tours and chatting with current students.

Step 9 Get a job.

  • Before you go in for an interview, practice with a trusted adult so you can develop your interviewing skills .
  • Struggling to find a job? Job Corps is a government program that will help you learn career skills and find the right job for you.
  • Some employers will pay for college classes. If you’d like to earn a degree, ask your boss if your workplace has this kind of program.

Step 10 Volunteer with a service organization.

  • AmeriCorps allows you to volunteer for nonprofits.
  • Peace Corps takes you all over the world to volunteer, usually for 2 years of service.
  • VolunteerMatch helps you find volunteer opportunities in your area.
  • United Way allows you to volunteer close to home or overseas. You’ll do things like mentoring, distributing food to people in need, and doing community service.
  • Habitat for Humanity builds houses for economically disadvantaged families.

Step 11 Join the military.

  • Coast guard
  • Space force

Step 12 Learn “adulting” skills.

  • Learn how to cook a few recipes.
  • Open your own bank account .
  • Apply for a credit card so you can start building credit.
  • Learn how to maintain your car .
  • Make your own appointments at the doctor and dentist.
  • Learn how to clean and do laundry .
  • Start paying some bills .

Step 1 Imagine your ideal life in the future.

  • What kind of job do I want?
  • Does the career I want require a degree?
  • What kind of workday feels right to me?
  • Where do I want to live? The city? The country? My hometown?
  • What kind of home do I want? An apartment? A house? A condo?
  • Do I need lots of space, or will a small home be right for me?
  • Do I want a partner anytime soon?
  • Do I think I’ll want kids?
  • When would I want to have kids?
  • Will I want pets?
  • How often do I want to travel?
  • What do I want to do in my free time?

Step 2 Talk to others about what they did.

  • “What did you do in the first year after high school?”
  • “What did you like about college?”
  • “Do you ever wish you’d taken a gap year?”
  • “Do you think working during college was helpful?”
  • “What advice would you give me if I start my own business?”
  • “What did you learn from being in the military?”

Step 3 Look at your finances to see what you can afford.

  • Wanna go to college or trade school? Apply for a scholarship or go after a grant. You could also take out a student loan. Start by filling out your FAFSA form . [14] X Research source

Step 4 Talk to your family to see if you have their support.

  • “I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m not totally ready for college. I’d like to take a gap year to travel and try freelancing. I’m hoping you’ll support my choice.”
  • “I really want to go to college, but I also want to earn money. I want to get a part-time job and take a light course load this semester. I’d really appreciate having your support.”

Step 5 Be open to new experiences.

  • Take a class to learn something that’s always interested you.
  • Make new friends .
  • Visit a nearby town by yourself or with a close friend.
  • Start learning a new language .

Step 1 Pursue your passion while you have fewer responsibilities.

  • Interview people who do what you want to do so you can get advice from them.

Step 2 Go to college or trade school if you know what you want to do.

  • Remember, you can always change your mind down the road. Don’t let doubt keep you from doing what you think is right for you.

Step 3 Postpone your education if you’re still exploring your career options.

  • It’s never too late to go to college. You could wait a year, 5 years, or more than a decade. You have plenty of time, so there’s no need to rush.
  • In the meantime, talk to a career counselor or attend a job fair to help you weigh your options. [17] X Research source

Step 4 Live at home to save money.

  • Make the most of your situation by getting a job, going to school, or starting your own freelance job or small business.

Step 5 Move out if you want your independence.

  • Make a plan so your move goes smoothly.
  • You can save money by getting roommates. Check with your friends to find out if any of them want to move out, too. You could also look for roommates online, but make sure to meet them in a public location.

Felipe Corredor

  • Be open to new experiences. Life gets so much bigger after high school, and there are so many amazing things for you to do and learn. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Just focus on the next few years, not the rest of your life. You don’t have to set up your entire future right now. Thanks Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0

5 year plan after high school essay

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Overcome Lust

  • ↑ https://hbr.org/2016/07/how-to-become-a-successful-freelancer
  • ↑ https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/10-steps-start-your-business
  • ↑ https://consumer.gov/managing-your-money/your-education-after-high-school
  • ↑ https://www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials/parents/article/7835/helping-your-teen-decide-what-to-do-after-high-school/
  • ↑ https://www.ednc.org/gap-year-after-high-school-nc/
  • ↑ https://kidshelpphone.ca/get-info/finishing-high-school-what-do-after-graduation/
  • ↑ https://www.iie.org/programs/generation-study-abroad
  • ↑ https://www.usa.gov/join-military
  • ↑ https://psychcentral.com/blog/when-youre-overwhelmed-with-being-an-adult#definition
  • ↑ https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/best_possible_self
  • ↑ https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/career-planning-for-high-schoolers.htm
  • ↑ https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-chronicles-infertility/201912/how-ask-your-people-emotional-support
  • ↑ https://www.thebalancemoney.com/why-living-with-parents-is-best-money-decision-4146428
  • ↑ https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/moving-out-of-home-tips-for-young-people

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Examples of Scholarship Essays for the “Career Goals” Question

5 year plan after high school essay

Emily Wong is a writer at Scholarships360. She’s worked as a social media manager and a content writer at several different startups, where she covered various topics including business, tech, job recruitment, and education. Emily grew up and went to school in the Chicago suburbs, where she studied economics and journalism at Northwestern University.

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5 year plan after high school essay

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Examples of Scholarship Essays for the “Career Goals” Question

Writing an essay is often the trickiest part of the scholarship application, not to mention the most time-consuming. However, the essay section also allows room for creativity and individuality. If you can communicate effectively, you can use the essay portion to stand out from the crowd. Let’s go over some tips for writing, as well as a couple of scholarship essay examples about career goals.

How to write a scholarship essay 

At this point, you’ve probably gained plenty of experience writing papers for school. However, it may still take a couple of tries to nail the scholarship essay. Since scholarship teams often have to get through a lot of applications, it’s important to stand out while staying concise. Here are some simple guidelines for writing scholarship essays.

See also: How to write a winning scholarship essay (with examples!)

Take five minutes to brainstorm

Before you even start your essay, take some time to gather your thoughts. Think about what you’ll want the paper to focus on. Why did you choose to pursue your career path in the first place? Where do you want to be in five years? How would this scholarship help you further your studies and work toward your goals?

Once you’ve jotted down a few ideas, choose one or two to center your essay on. Identifying the focus of your paper, it’ll make it easier to keep your thoughts organized. In turn, it’ll make it easier for the reader to follow.

Related : How to start a scholarship essay (with examples!)

Stay within the word limit

Unlike the four-page essays that you may have written in English class, scholarship essays are often only a paragraph or two. In order to respect the selection committee’s time, be wary of going too far about the specified word count. A general rule of thumb is to stay within 20 words above or below the limit. That may entail a few rounds of edits to get the wording just right.

Stay positive!

Feel free to use part of your essay to talk about your life’s challenges. After all, the selection committee often wants to give the award to a candidate who needs it. However, make sure your anecdote doesn’t devolve into a sob story. If you’re going to bring up hardships you’ve endured, try to balance it by talking about how you’ve overcome them. By demonstrating resilience, you can show readers how you would use the scholarship to succeed in your current situation.

Leave time to proofread

Especially for a short scholarship essay, proofreading can take as little as 5-10 minutes. Still, it can be tempting to just hit “submit” after your first draft. However, being too impulsive can leave your essay riddled with typos and grammatical errors.

Try to avoid unnecessary mistakes by finishing your draft at least 24 hours before the scholarship deadline. That way, you can proofread it with fresh eyes before you submit it.

If you’re struggling to close out your essay, read how to end a scholarship essay in five steps .

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How to write a 100-word “career goals” essay.

When writing a 100-word essay, you’ll have to choose your content carefully. Since space is limited, you’ll want to identify the most important details to include beforehand.

First and foremost, make sure to clearly communicate your current pursuits. Talk about your academic and extracurricular activities related to your career goals. Additionally, it’s important to be specific about what you plan to do in the future. Then, if you have extra room, you can talk about how the scholarship will help you reach your goals.

My name is Alison MacBride, and I’m a sophomore at the University of Illinois. I’m currently pursuing a major in Journalism with a minor in Natural Resource Conservation. After completing my program, I plan to combine my areas of interest to become an environmental journalist.

During high school, I volunteered at an eco-conscious farm, where I learned about how our actions affect the earth. Since then, I’ve been set on raising awareness for the environment. This scholarship would go a long way in helping me finish my degree with the skills I need to investigate and report about critical issues.

Word count: 100

How to write a 250-word “career goals” essay

For the 250-word essay, you can go into more detail. Give the readers some context by talking about how you first got interested in your chosen career. Storytelling can be especially effective in engaging your audience. Try to capture their attention by choosing one or two concrete examples and relaying them vividly.

Additionally, you can spend more time talking about the scholarship and how it’ll make a difference in your studies. Go into more detail about how and why you need the award, but remember to keep it positive! For more help, check out how to write a 250 word essay . 

I first decided that I wanted to pursue a career in environmentalism in early high school. The summer after my freshman year, I joined a volunteer program at an eco-conscious farm in my community. In addition to helping out with the operations, I learned about current environmental issues related to farming and other consumer industries.

After learning about the agricultural industry’s impact on the planet, I was inspired to make a difference. The next year, I started a monthly earth magazine at my high school in which we broke down environmental issues and offered tips on how to be more eco-friendly. When I started college, I founded an on-campus publication with the same mission.

In recent years, I’ve been troubled to see how some media outlets downplay the gravity of issues like climate change and deforestation. I’ve admired reporters who publish trustworthy and comprehensible information about environmental issues, and I aim to follow in their footsteps.

When I entered college, I was initially concerned that I wouldn’t have enough money to finish my degree. Fortunately, I’ve been able to cover most of my tuition using merit scholarships and paychecks from my part-time job on campus. Receiving this scholarship would allow me more time to focus on acing my classes and pursuing environmental advocacy work on campus.

Word count: 261

Final thoughts

Planning is essential in making your “career goals” essay clear and concise. Hopefully, these scholarship essay examples about career goals can be your guide to writing a scholarship-winning essay. Good luck!

Additional resources

Maybe you need to write a longer scholarship essay? We can help with our writing a 500 word essay guide ! Be prepared and learn how to write essays about yourself and how to craft an impressive personal statement . Learn the differences between a personal statement and a statement of purpose as the terms might come up on college websites. If you haven’t decided on a college already, check out our guide on how to choose a college . No matter where you are in your educational journey, make sure that you apply for all the scholarships you qualify for!

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Writing Tips for a Career Goals Essay (2023)

Jennifer Finetti Mar 1, 2023

Writing Tips for a Career Goals Essay (2023)

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For your college scholarship essay, you may be asked about your career goals. The scholarship committee wants to see how investing in your education will help your career. Do you have a definitive plan? Will a college education fit into that plan? These are the answers they want to see.

In this guide, we will provide some scholarship essay examples about career goals to jumpstart your essay writing.

Writing tips for career goals scholarship essays

Here are some quick tips for writing career goal scholarship essays:

  • Write about career goals that tie into the scholarship. This doesn’t mean you have to lie about your career goals to make them fit. Find a way to relate them to the scholarship committee or other elements of the scholarship.
  • Be precise about your career goals. Avoid vague statements that suggest you do not have a plan. Judges like to see determination because it shows they’re making a worthy educational investment.
  • Discuss how your education will help you achieve your career goals. The scholarship will assist with your education. Show a connection between the two so they can see why you deserve this scholarship.
  • If you mention multiple goals, indicate which one you feel most strongly about. Longer essays may allow you to mention a backup plan, but the committee needs to see where your focus lies.
  • Avoid cliché statements. Describe how your specific talents, experiences, and degree pursuits will help you succeed.
  • Point out solutions, not problems. You may mention struggles you’ve had in the past, but pinpoint how you will learn from them. Moreover, show how those struggles led to your career goals.
  • Organize your thoughts in a fluid manner. This will most likely be in chronological order, starting with your degree and progressing through your career growth.
  • Write, revise, rest, revise. This goes for any essay writing. Write the first draft from start to finish. Then read through it and edit any grammar or flow errors. Take a break, preferably overnight, and then re-read your content with fresh eyes.

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Writing tips for college students

Example 1: Scholarship essay about career goals (100 words)

In a 100-word scholarship essay, you need to quickly make your point. There is not enough room for a lengthy intro or backstory. Use concise, comprehensive statements to deliver the most information in the fewest words.

I’m a sophomore at Texas Tech University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Companion Animal Science. After graduation, I hope to attend Texas A&M to become a veterinarian serving rescue organizations and animal shelters. I was born and raised in the south, where it is common for people to abandon animals in rural areas. Those animals then go into a rescue – emaciated, frightened, and confused. I want to work with rescues to provide affordable veterinary medicine to the animals they save. This scholarship would help me continue my education and potentially save thousands of abandoned animals in the future.

Word count: 99

Example 2: Scholarship essay about career goals (250 words)

With a 250-word scholarship essay, you have a little more room to discuss the details of your career goals. You can explain situations from your past that inspired your career pursuits. You could use one paragraph to talk about your short-term goals and another to talk about your long-term goals. Just make sure the big picture ties into the scholarship.

My name is Patrick Holden and I am a freshman at the University of Michigan, majoring in English and minoring in linguistics. I plan to become an English teacher, but this wasn’t always what I had in mind.  When thinking about my future, I always saw myself in some sort of corporate office, perhaps as an executive assistant or a loan officer at a bank. My father works in the finance office for a car dealership and my mother works at a call center. I assumed I would follow a similar, albeit boring, path in life. In my junior year of high school, everything changed. My English teacher inspired me in ways I could have never imagined. She got me to love writing, literature, etymology, and everything about the English language. She made me want to be a better student in all of my classes, and she helped me see the value of education. I decided then that I wanted to inspire other students just as she did for me. My parents are unfortunately not able to contribute much toward my college expenses. I have earned a tuition scholarship based on my ACT score, but I still need additional funding for books and supplies. English majors have particularly high book costs because we have to purchase multiple books for each class. With the help of this scholarship, I could afford to continue my degree and become an English teacher.

Word count: 240

5 year plan after high school essay

Example 3: Scholarship essay about career goals (500 words)

With 500 words or more to play around with, you have plenty of space to talk about your career goals. Maintain the same theme throughout the scholarship essay. Each paragraph should connect to the next, and they should all work together to describe your career plan. Avoid making disconnected statements for the sake of word count. In the end, the scholarship committee should have a clear view of your educational plans and professional aspirations.

Internet marketing has gone from an optional method of advertisement to a vital step in business outreach. Even small businesses in remote towns look to the internet to attract customers and spread the word about their services. I am currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Marketing with an emphasis on Digital Marketing. With this training, I will be able to enter a profession that will only grow year by year. When I was younger, I found print advertisements to be fascinating. I loved reading the newspaper with my father just to see the full-page ads in between stories. When I got older though, those ads became less appealing because they were not adaptive. They seemed dated, static and ill-fit for changes in society. That’s when I discovered internet marketing. It was still in its infancy when I was in middle school, but by the time I graduated high school, it had become a staple in business development. I loved the way internet marketers had to constantly adjust to fit Google’s algorithms, new mobile devices, and new audiences. I knew this was the career for me. Originally, I planned to focus solely on business marketing because there were not many digital marketing degrees available. Over the last two years though, several schools throughout the country have developed internet marketing courses that explain fundamental methods of search engine optimization, website analytics, and more. These are the foundations I will build my career around. The best part about internet marketing is that there is always something new to learn. I can use my creative mind and exploratory nature to try new advertising methods that help businesses succeed. Every time they do well, I do well. This is the kind of job fulfillment most people can only dream of, but my educational plan and job prospects will allow me to achieve it. I have picked up some freelance jobs online to supplement my studies and help pay for my education. It is difficult to maintain a steady stream of income in freelance because I spend so much time on my school work. This scholarship could offset some of the costs and reduce my workload as a whole. While I will still work throughout the semester and full-time in the summers, having extra financial aid would greatly reduce my stress in college. I look forward to a future where I can use my marketing skills to help business owners achieve their career goals. I plan to spend the first few years after graduation working for a successful, long-standing digital marketing company. After I have enough on-the-job training to feel confident in my abilities, I will open my own internet marketing company in Chicago, where my family lives. I have a clear picture of where I will be in the next 10 years, and I know this degree is going to help me get there.

Word count: 481

  • Scholarship Essay

Jennifer Finetti

Jennifer Finetti

As a parent who recently helped her own kids embark on their college journeys, Jennifer approaches the transition from high school to college from a unique perspective. She truly enjoys engaging with students – helping them to build the confidence, knowledge, and insight needed to pursue their educational and career goals, while also empowering them with the strategies and skills needed to access scholarships and financial aid that can help limit college costs. She understands the importance of ensuring access to the edtech tools and resources that can make this process easier and more equitable - this drive to support underserved populations is what drew her to ScholarshipOwl. Jennifer has coached students from around the world, as well as in-person with local students in her own community. Her areas of focus include career exploration, major selection, college search and selection, college application assistance, financial aid and scholarship consultation, essay review and feedback, and more. She works with students who are at the top of their class, as well as those who are struggling. She firmly believes that all students, regardless of their circumstances, can succeed if they stay focused and work hard in school. Jennifer earned her MA in Counseling Psychology from National University, and her BA in Psychology from University of California, Santa Cruz.

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20 Smart Answers: “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

By Status.net Editorial Team on April 10, 2023 — 10 minutes to read

Why Do They Ask This Question?

When you’re asked “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?,” the interviewer wants to gain insight into your career aspirations, personal goals, and how you envision growing within the company or industry. This question also helps interviewers understand whether your long-term goals align with the opportunities that the company or job may provide.

Before you go into the interview, take some time to reflect on what you genuinely want to achieve in the next five years. Consider the following aspects:

  • Areas you wish to specialize in or skills you want to refine
  • Leadership opportunities you’d like to explore
  • Professional certifications or training programs you plan to complete
  • Any goals related to the company’s values or industry trends

Understanding your own goals will help you create a truthful and thoughtful response that showcases your ambition and commitment to personal growth. Moreover, demonstrating how you plan to utilize and develop the skills gained in this role will show the interviewer that you’re a good fit for the company.

It’s important to remember that your answer should be tailored to the specific position or industry you’re interviewing for. You want to show the interviewer that your long-term goals are a natural progression from the job you’re applying for. Feel free to express enthusiasm for the company, industry, or role, but avoid making unrealistic claims or commitments.

Tips for Structuring Your Answer

Being honest in your response means sharing your true career aspirations, while still trying to keep your goals realistic and attainable within the company. Your response might include the following aspects:

  • Specific job titles or roles you aspire to reach
  • Skills you plan to develop or improve
  • Any certifications, trainings, or educational goals you intend to achieve

Be Adaptable

Show flexibility in your answer by acknowledging that change is inevitable and that you’re willing to adapt to the company’s needs as well as your own professional growth. You can tell your interviewer that you’re open to new opportunities within the organization.

  • Highlight your ability to learn new skills and take on new challenges
  • Discuss how you can grow within the company and contribute to its success
  • Emphasize your willingness to embrace change and adapt as needed

Show Your Commitment

  • Express how you see your professional growth aligned with the company’s goals
  • Discuss the ways you intend to contribute meaningfully to the organization
  • Reiterate your excitement to be part of the company’s future

Addressing Uncertainty

It’s natural to feel uncertain about your future, especially when asked to predict where you will be in five years. However, using some strategies, you can form a thoughtful response that communicates your aspirations and adaptability.

Firstly, consider discussing your long-term goals in broad terms. Even if you’re unsure about the specifics, try to focus on the direction you’d like your career to move. For example, mention professional growth opportunities or attribute you’d like to develop. This approach demonstrates ambition without being too rigid.

Example: “In five years, I hope to have built on my skills and gained more responsibility within this company. I’m eager to learn from experienced team members and eventually take on leadership roles.”

Secondly, when you are not entirely sure about the exact positions or steps, you can emphasize a growth mindset. Talk about continuously improving and adapting to changing situations, which would show that you’re flexible and resilient.

  • Constant learning
  • Embrace challenges
  • Adapt to change

Example: “I’m committed to continually expanding my knowledge and improving, which is why I’m enthusiastic about your company’s focus on innovation. Wherever I see myself in five years, I’ll be ready to adapt and grow.”

If future possibilities are vague, mention that you’re open to exploring various paths or contributing to different projects. Clarify that you’re excited to work with the company and discover opportunities to make a meaningful impact.

Example: “I’m excited about the wide range of projects your company is involved in. While I may not know the precise role I’ll fill in five years, I’m eager to contribute to a company like yours and find my unique path.”

Setting Realistic Goals

When crafting your answer to the oft-dreaded question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, it’s crucial to set realistic goals. Establishing achievable objectives demonstrates not only your ambition but also your clarity about what it takes to advance your career and thrive in the company.

One way to set realistic goals is to consider the job role and how it aligns with your long-term aspirations. Analyze the job description and requirements, and think about how they fit with your personal growth plans. Start by identifying the necessary steps to progress in the company or your field, and incorporate them into your answer. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Reflect on the skills or experience you need to acquire in the next five years. For example, perhaps you’ll need to complete a specific certification or training to advance in your industry. Mention this in your response, acknowledging the importance of self-development and continuous learning.
  • Consider potential career paths within the company. Research and identify possible roles you might transition into, ensuring your answer aligns with the organization’s structure and growth opportunities. This demonstrates a commitment to the company and its future.
  • Think about your personal life and how it may impact your career trajectory. It’s essential to recognize that your personal circumstances could play a role in determining your career path over the next five years. By balancing work and personal life, you can set realistic expectations for yourself and your employer.

As you formulate your response, keep in mind that it’s perfectly normal to not have an exact plan for the next five years. However, it’s crucial to demonstrate a strong work ethic, flexibility, and willingness to learn and grow within your role and the company.

Aligning with Company Vision

It’s also useful to consider the company’s vision and values. Doing so shows interviewers that you have done your research and genuinely care about the potential role you might play in the organization’s future.

Take some time to familiarize yourself with the company’s mission statement and objectives. Visit their website, read up on any press releases, and research the history and recent accomplishments. This information will give you a solid foundation to align your long-term career goals with the organization’s vision.

Next, reflect on your personal values and career aspirations to find a meaningful connection with the company’s ethos. Use your research to identify opportunities for growth within the organization and emphasize how your contribution can serve as a catalyst for furthering their mission.

  • Review the job description thoroughly and understand the key responsibilities and required skills.
  • Reflect on your unique strengths and how they can contribute to the role and the company’s success.
  • Think about possible career milestones within the role and how they align with your long-term goals.
  • Consider the company’s projects or initiatives you would like to be involved in or lead, helping the organization grow and evolve in the future.
  • Prepare to communicate these points with confidence and enthusiasm during the interview.

An example of a well-aligned response could be:

“In five years, I see myself holding a leadership role within your company’s marketing department, where I can contribute to the development and execution of successful marketing strategies. I’m especially excited about the potential opportunity to work on your company’s sustainability initiatives, as I believe strongly in environmentally-conscious business practices.”

Focusing on Skills and Growth

When answering the question “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”, focusing on skills and growth is an excellent approach. This shows employers that you’re dedicated to improving yourself professionally and highlights your commitment to the role you’re applying for.

Improving Current Skillset

Identify the key skills relevant to the job you’re seeking, and consider how you can enhance these skills over time: this can include further training, mentorship, or hands-on experience.

For example, you might say something like:

“In the next five years, I plan to hone my expertise in project management. I would like to collaborate on more complex projects and learn from experienced professionals in the field. I also plan to pursue a certification in Agile methodologies to streamline processes and deliver higher-quality results.”

This answer demonstrates your ambition, as well as a desire to contribute positively to the organization.

Acquiring New Skills

Besides improving your current skillset, it’s important to consider acquiring new skills. Employers appreciate candidates who are adaptable and committed to their professional development. Think about which additional skills could help you be more effective in your role or support the company’s goals.

“I am eager to learn more about data analysis tools like SQL and Python to inform and optimize our marketing strategies. I believe this will allow me to contribute more effectively to data-driven decision-making within the team and help the company achieve its larger objectives.”

“In the next five years, I plan to become an expert in Python programming and machine learning. I’m committed to taking courses and attending workshops to expand my skillset, which I believe will be an asset to your company’s tech team.”

“My goal is to develop my skills and expertise in this field, and in five years, I hope to have become an expert in my area of work and be recognized as a thought leader in the industry.”

Leadership-Focused Examples

Discussing your aspirations for a leadership role demonstrates your interest in taking on responsibility and driving teams to succeed. Emphasize your ability to guide others and create a positive work environment:

“As someone with a passion for teamwork and collaboration, I see myself in a leadership position in the next five years. I’m eager to mentor junior colleagues and help foster their professional growth, while also contributing to the overall success of the company.”

“In five years, I see myself as a senior member of this organization, having taken on more leadership responsibilities and contributing to the growth of the company.”

Career-Focused Examples

“In five years, I see myself in a mid-level management position within the marketing department. I plan on using the next few years to further develop my skills in marketing strategy and data analysis, and I truly believe this company is the perfect place to grow and achieve those goals.”

“I am excited about the opportunity to learn and grow in this role, and in five years, I hope to have taken on new challenges and responsibilities within the company.”

“I am passionate about making a positive impact in the world, and in five years, I see myself working on projects that have a tangible impact on people’s lives and the environment.”

“In five years, I hope to have built strong relationships with my colleagues and clients, and have a reputation for being a reliable and trustworthy partner in business.”

“I am committed to continuous learning and personal growth, and in five years, I hope to have completed additional training and certifications that will help me progress in my career.”

“I am excited about the potential for innovation and new technologies in this field, and in five years, I hope to have contributed to the development of new products or services that can benefit our customers.”

“In five years, I see myself in a leadership role within the company, mentoring and coaching others to help them achieve their full potential.”

“In five years, I hope to have made a significant impact in this company and have grown both professionally and personally. I see myself taking on more responsibility and leadership roles, while continuing to develop my skills and expertise in my field. Ultimately, I would like to be seen as a valuable asset to the company and contribute to its continued success.”

“In five years, I see myself having made a meaningful impact in this industry and having established myself as a thought leader and expert in my field. I am someone who is constantly looking for ways to innovate and improve, and I hope to have brought new ideas and approaches to the table that have helped move the industry forward. I also hope to have built a strong network of contacts and collaborators who share my passion for this work.”

“In five years, I see myself having built a successful and fulfilling career in this industry, while also maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I believe that it’s important to have a sense of purpose and meaning in one’s work, but also to prioritize personal relationships and hobbies outside of work. I hope to have found that balance and to be living a life that feels both rewarding and fulfilling.”

Your answer doesn’t need to be set in stone or overly specific; instead, focus on showcasing your skills, growth potential, and flexibility in the ever-evolving professional landscape.

To summarize:

  • Align your goals with the company’s objectives
  • Emphasize your desire for growth and development

Crafting the perfect response takes time, so give yourself an opportunity to reflect and practice before your interview.

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