The One-Step System for Creating Your 5-year Plan - Legally Bold

The One-Step System for Creating Your 5-year Plan

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In last week’s newsletter, I talked about how to create change in your life and that it’s not the how that trips us up. It’s the what that causes problems. 

Real change requires a real what, meaning intention and commitment. So when we don’t see the change we want, it’s because we haven’t committed to doing what it takes to get there despite the resistance that is sure to get in the way.  

So now that we are clear on the what vs. how issue, let’s talk about using intention and commitment to plan for the future. And let’s begin that discussion with a story.

In 2015, I left my job to start a solo law practice. I decided to leave for several reasons, but for the purposes of this anecdote, the most important ones were these: 

  1. The Work-to-Pay Ratio – Like most lawyers working in any position in any level of government, I was overworked and underpaid. Yes, I made “good” money by most standards, but I also had more student loan debt and spent more hours working than most people.
  2. The Desire for Entrepreneurship – I always knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial, but the financial risks of running a brick-and-mortar business always scared me away. In 2014, though, I started learning a lot about legal entrepreneurs who were making a living online and working from home. I figured if they could do it, I could too.

So I left my job with the intention of making a living by setting up and running my solo law firm online. I committed to trusting myself and my entrepreneurial dream. But because I am also extremely practical, I told myself that if the business didn’t work after 5 years, I’d just quit and get a job. So that was my 5-year plan.

Now I’m sure we’ve all heard some form of the old cliche, “we plan, God laughs.” Well, about a year into my 5-year plan, God seemed to have a lot of jokes for me.

Even though I loved my business and was happy that I escaped my 9-to-5, the rest of my life felt like it was in free fall. I got sick. I had to stop working on my business for over a year, and I sort of haphazardly moved to another state.  

What kept me going during this time was that back in 2015, I joined an online business group for women entrepreneurs called the Conquer Club.  

To be clear, membership in the Conquer Club was not free. In fact, it was the most money I had spent on anything outside of formal education ever. 

I was scared to death. I already explained that I was overworked and underpaid when I had a job. But when I joined the Conquer Club, I joined two weeks after quitting my job. So I had no clients, no steady money coming in, and no real business yet.

I joined anyway. Something told me that joining this group would change my life for the better. I decided to trust that feeling even though my mind screamed, “Toya, you can’t be serious right now,” as I entered my credit card details on the payment form.

Looking back on that decision today, I can say that I was right to trust that feeling. The Conquer Club supported me, kept me accountable to my dream, and inspired me to keep going even when my life was in free fall. 

Through this group, I became part of a community and build friendships. I met award-winning photographers in that group. I met million-dollar business owners in that group. I even count women who are Emmy award winners and NYT best selling authors as my friends because of that group.  

Now that my dream has morphed into coaching lawyers through Legally Bold and calling out systemic racism in the legal profession, this multicultural group of women is right there with me championing my cause. So when I signed up for the group in 2015, I was planning for 2020 and didn’t even know it.

So what is the one-step system for creating a 5-year plan? Particularly when you know that things beyond our control will get in the way. 

The system is this – after setting your intention, take the first scary step. The scary step is the one that makes you feel vulnerable, weird, or silly. It’s the one that puts your money, reputation, or comfortability on the line. 

The scary step is taking the class, writing the letter to the ABA and publishing it, reading the book with the embarrassing title, going on the retreat, and emailing that person on Linkedin. 

You take the first scary step. Then take the next terrifying one, and everything else will flow from there.