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5 Years to Live Goals - A path to greater Purpose?

-   By James Stevenson (MSc, IEA) - EMCC Accredited Coaching Psychologist and Positive Psychologist

There are many ways to support yourself to live with more meaning, more aligned with your values... one possible way is by setting some 5 years to live goals

Are you interested by the idea of 5 years to live goals? 

This is the idea of imagining you have just 5 years to live, and thinking about what you'd like to achieve from that perspective. Of course, nothing needs to be acted upon. It can be seen as a kind of interesting way of reflecting. 

This hypothetical question reminds me of the well-known Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Address about living each day like it's the last. This was based on his close-call with cancer. The wisdom that arose out of his experience, is relevant to this activity I think.

He said, “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose,”

He also said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life … Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."

Without having a brush with death similar to Steve Jobs, we can still listen in earnest to him and others who have experienced similar, and try our best to reflect on ourselves. We can allow ourselves to become inspired and try to take one small meaningful step forwards. 

If it's been a while why not have a quick read? It's in the 3rd of 3 stories he shares.

How I use it with coaching clients, and how you can use this

As an accredited coach and positive psychologist I ask questions that allow my clients to think in new ways. Using time in this way can provide a new and helpful perspective.

Because of the existential element to this question, this is definitely one where I'd preface it with, "feel free to skip this question if you like... " or I'd ask "How do you feel about answering a ?? years to live question?". If there is enthusiasm there, then I'd go for it.

If a question doesn't quit hit the spot, I sometimes encourage my clients to explore changing it. If they don't seem keen on 5 years, I might ask how many years would work for you? If death feels a bit grave, I might ask what a more fun version might be? 5 years until I move to Barbados? The idea is to be flexible using the same principles and make it work for each person. How can you make this work best for you? 

The 5 years to live goals questions exercise 

There are a few ways of doing this exercise. Alone, with a friend, in a small group....

If doing it with a friend, or someone who shares an interest in this topic you can take turns asking each other a question and give the other person perhaps 5 mins to answer while giving them quality natural attention and active listening. i.e. no fidgeting, suitable eye contact, nodding, and listening sounds.

If doing it in a small group, how about going around the group giving 3 minutes for each person to share uninterrupted. Everyone in the group is encouraged to give quality attention and respect. You could do this 2 or 3 times with questions that look at it from a slightly different angle. It can be valuable to have multiple people's differing thoughts about a topic such as this. Lots to learn. 

If doing it by yourself, Perhaps as a writing exercise? You could answer all the questions or if you want a quicker exercise, you could choose 3/4 of the most interesting questions for you and see what comes up...

  1. What is it about 5 years to live goals that are meaningful or interesting to you?
  2. If you knew that you had just 5 more years to live what would become more and less important to you? 
  3. How would what you want to achieve change? 
  4. If you had exactly 5 years to live, what would you set out to achieve? 
  5. If you found out today that you had around 5 years to live, what would be your top priorities? 
  6. If you found out that a close friend or loved one had 5 years to live, and they asked you for advice, what would you suggest? 
  7. What is the most inspiring example you know of someone who found out they had a limited time to live? What would your goals like to have happen as a result of this?
  8. Who would you most like to speak to about your 5 years to live goals either before or after you create them?
  9. What role does your age play in choosing your 5 more years goals?

Remember that there is no one-way to answer these questions. There is no correct way or answer. Also feel free to play around with the time-frame.  

If you'd like to work on this with an experienced and accredited coach then feel free to get in touch via my one to one coaching site, I'd be happy to help. 

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