Plan: To be a senior manager by 33.
Reality: You're still at the bottom of the corporate ladder.

Solution: From where you stand, the steady climb up that unsteady ladder seems almost like a waste of energy, huh? Especially when you'd always dreamt that you'd be looking down at everyone else from the top rung by now... Maybe it's time to look at your values and what your career really means to you. Sit down and make a list of all the things you would value in the ultimate career - for me it's things like: flexibility, working for myself, getting paid what I'm worth, getting satisfaction from helping other people create real change, growing personally, and doing lots of different things in my day. I'm lucky enough to be fulfilling each and every one of these values in my work life. What about you? What's really important to you, and how close are you to achieving it? Perhaps, when you were 20, you thought that the most important thing would be to be managing a group of 10 people. But now, with other things in your life taking higher priority, your values may have changed. Don't think that you need to keep your old career goals alive if they don't any longer suit your circumstances. I'm not saying give up or cop out - simply have a look at your life as it stands now, and note what is really important to you, and go for it! It seriously doesn't matter where you stand on that ladder, as long as you feel like you're steady and not about to topple off!

Plan: To be super fit and ultra toned by 28.
Reality: You've been hampered by injury.

Solution: It can be so disillusioning to be absolutely set on a training regime, starting to see a difference in your body and mindset, only to be struck down by an injury that could set you back weeks, months or even years. Remember, the most important reason to exercise should always be to keep healthy. So, apart from the annoying injuries, how is your general health? What can you do to improve your health, without overdoing the exercise? And, is it possible to do some more gentle exercise, that will aid your health without causing more damage? Now's a good time to have a look at the kind of exercise you've been doing up 'til now that has perhaps not been the kindest on your body. Get a professional opinion from a personal trainer and create a plan to get you back on your feet. Sometimes, in these circumstances, it can be a case of two steps forward, one step back. Just have faith that your injuries will be overcome with careful monitoring, and your dreams of being super fit and toned can still be achieved. It may just take a little more time. In the meantime, take advantage of the extra few hours laid up in bed or on the couch. It's a great opportunity to read this magazine and get ideas for the future, or just to take a well deserved break!

Plan: To own your home and have two investment properties by 34.
Reality: You're still renting.

Solution: Have a look at what you've been able to achieve in the past five years because you haven't invested in property. Perhaps you've travelled, or maybe studied. Or, if you can't really say that you've done much at all, at least you haven't had the stress of multiple mortgages! The good news about financial stability is that it comes in many forms, and can really be started at any time. Okay, so you're not where you thought you'd be, but that doesn't mean you can't start to build wealth for your future now. Sit down with a pen and paper and work out how much you earn, what your outgoings are, and how much extra money you have left over every month. In what ways can you invest that money? Is property the smartest option? Or perhaps shares?
Research everything that's available to you, and visit a financial advisor to get ideas that you may not have thought of. Remember, it's always better to start a bit later than not at all. Stick to a plan and watch your financial dreams come true!

Samantha McDonald