How to achieve what you truly want from your life’s adventure

Where do you see yourself in five years? This is a question many people fear being asked. Five years can seem like an awfully long time, and it can be difficult to articulate the thoughts in your head on the spot.

When it comes to changing careers, however, luck favours the prepared. In this blog, Gee Foottit from St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy provides London Mums with tips on how to achieve personal goals in a life’s adventure.

dream-catcher arts and crafts for a blog on life's adventure

Whether you are returning from maternity leave and have taken some time to review what you want from your career, continuing in your current role, suddenly facing the unforeseen (such as redundancy) or coming to a crossroads (is a career change calling?), taking a moment to map out a clear plan that sets out your ambitious – but achievable – goals can provide you with the clarity, confidence and structure you need to take a step in the right direction.   

Gee Foottit blog How to achieve what you truly want from your life’s adventure

Gee Foottit

Bill Burnett, Stanford Professor and author of Designing Your Work Life, created the Odyssey Plan to help people envision what they want their future to look like. An Odyssey is a ‘long and eventful or adventurous journey or experience’. Sometimes, the decision to make a change can be just that.

What does your today look like?

There is no better place to start a plan than by looking at your current situation.

“Dysfunctional Belief: I should already know where I’m going. Reframe: You can’t know where you are going until you know where you are.” – Bill Burnett




Review your current situation based on the things you know are happening in your career.

  • What does your day to day look like?
  • What are you working on?
  • Does it fill you a sense of passion or achievement?

Once you completely understand where you are right now, you may feel more ready to look to the future and begin your Plan.

Find clarity and focus

“You can imagine a career and a life that don’t exist; you can build that future you, and as a result your life will change.” ? Bill Burnett, creator of the Odyssey Plan

The Odyssey Plan is not so much a rigid plan of action: moreover, it is a process of ideation that brings in all the underpinning values and belief systems from your work and life views. It therefore becomes a cohesive and multi-dimensional vision, rather than just a career trajectory.

No plan completely survives first contact with reality, but being prepared allows us to remain flexible, engaged, and able to make thoughtful decisions on whatever life throws at us.

Start creating your Plan

“Planning is everything, but the plan is nothing” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

To build an Odyssey plan, you create three alternative realities on three sheets of paper. Each reality projects a five-year trajectory of both personal and professional milestones – at least one for each year.

Build each timeline as follows:

  • Plan #1 – What would the next five years look like if you stay on your current career path?
  • Plan #2 – What would the next five years look like if Plan #1 disappeared?
  • Plan #3 – What would the next five years look like if money and image were no object?

For each plan, include the following:

  • A six-word title that captures the essence of the plan
  • Three questions to ask yourself – what would you like to learn from the five years?
  • A dashboard that indicates how you rank the plan against four criteria:
    • Feeling: Do you like the plan?
    • Resources: Do you have what you need to execute the plan?
    • Coherence: Is the plan consistent with who you are?
    • Confidence: Are you confident about executing the plan?

Review the elements that are important to you in your life’s adventure

Once you have created three separate timelines, you can extend one of these into a 10-year plan. The 10-year plan can include elements from all three timelines but should still contain a dominant framework.

“As a life designer, you need to embrace two philosophies: 1. You choose better when you have lots of good ideas to choose from. 2. You never choose your first solution to any problem.” – Bill Burnett

Reflecting on three different plans with three different scenarios and outcomes will help you to find clarity in what are looking to achieve. For example, whilst Plan #3 may seem unrealistic at face-value, the elements that feature may remind you of what is really important.  

The 10-year plan follows the same structure as the five-year plan in that it should encompass both professional and personal milestones. It should also include three questions, and a dashboard to indicate your ranking of the plan.

It should also include a thank you note. Imagine yourself at the end of your 10-year plan and write a letter to the person who designed it. Write about your plan as if it has already been completed, thanking the designer who created the plan for specific things that happened in those 10 years:

  • What will you be most thankful for?
  • How will you feel knowing that you’ve achieved what you set out to do 10 years prior?

This reflection is a valuable exercise because when you look backwards from the future, you can draw out the things that are most important to you.

Knowing which direction you want to go

So, perhaps the question ‘where do you see yourself in five years’ time’ isn’t so bad after all! Now you have the tool to visualise and break down your goals into manageable steps. Your five-year plan doesn’t have to feel daunting and understanding just how important it is to you will make the Plan far more achievable.

You just need to take the first step!

Interested in finding out if a career in financial advice could meet all of your goals and ambitions? Why not read this article next? Click here for more with more tips on how to achieve what you truly want from your life’s adventure.

FREE RESOURCE: Download your free printable template Odyssey Plan here and achieve what you truly want from your life’s adventure.

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