Twelve 20-somethings chronicle their lives for WBUR. Learn more.
Where do I see myself in five years?
I am a planner. I like to plan things. I like to know where I am going and have a road map on how to get there. As much as I want to be a free spirit, and as much as there is an adventurous side that stirs inside of me, most of the time I prefer to have my two feet firmly planted on the ground.
Two feet on the ground feels safe. That’s why I hate flying and why I stumble awkwardly in yoga class with any pose that requires two feet in the air. Having a plan gives me a sense of calm, peace, and control over a chaotic life and a chaotic world.
For someone that likes to plan things, the question of where I see myself in five years should be an easy one to answer. Sadly, it is not. My experiences over the last year and a half have taught me that no matter what you plan for, no matter how convinced you are that you are heading in the right direction, no matter how much you want things to happen — even will them to happen — life events can change the trajectory of any plan.
The more you embrace this change, the more real and authentic your life becomes.
There is a document in my life fittingly called “My Life Plan.” It is sitting on the desktop of my computer. This document should bring me that sense of peace and calm — and at one point in my life it did — but now every time I turn on my computer and see this document a lump swells in my throat and a slight panic begins to build in my gut and swirl around throughout my entire body.
This document encompasses what the “me” of two years ago thought my life would look like for the next five, ten and fifteen years. It includes the political campaigns I wanted to work on, when I would leave politics for law school, at what point I wanted to get married and have children, how much money I wanted to have in my savings at each milestone, and when I would buy my first condo in D.C. — preferably in the Georgetown neighborhood.
I have not been able to open this document since I got sick.
I know that I need to delete this document or at the very least revise it to include my new life and my new goals, but I am not ready to do that. Instead, it just sits there, unopened, staring me in the face every time I hear the ding of my computer turn on. I feel shackled to this document. By typing it out, it felt so permanent and real, and by revising it I feel as though I have somehow failed to meet the goals I set for myself.
I somehow failed to meet my own potential and my own expectations.
Planning out the next five years feels too constraining right now, never mind trying to forecast the next ten or fifteen years. In trying to project where I want to be in the distant future, I would once again become shackled to a new life that I am still trying to figure out. Instead I am now piecing my life together with a series of goals I hope to accomplish in smaller increments of time — three months, six months, one year, two years.
I’m choosing to focus on one goal at a time and see where that goal takes me. This seems more manageable, more authentic, more real.
With each new experience, with each new interaction, and with each new idea I revise my goals. Some ideas I sit with for awhile determining that they feel right, while others I think are right and struggle to figure out where to place them in my life, only to determine they are not the right path for me.
Over the past few months I have thought about careers ranging from a nutritionist to lawyer to yoga teacher to TV reporter or columnist. There were days when I would wake up absolutely convinced that a certain path was right for me, only to go to bed that same night feeling more lost than ever.
I felt lost because after months of wrestling with these different ideas, I realized that I was looking at them too narrowly. I was looking at them through the lens of singular careers and that didn’t feel right. What I was missing was realizing that I could take pieces of each of these ideas and forge my own path forward.
In forging my own path forward, I have come up with a series of succinct goals that I feel are right for me. Each goal embraces pieces of the many ideas I had over the past couple of months.
My long-term goal now is to build a lifestyle and wellness business focused on catering to and supporting women in achieving their health and lifestyle goals. The different components of this business include health counseling to support dietary and lifestyle changes, fitness and yoga to improve overall well-being, and mental health services to be able to support my clients in the most well-rounded way possible. I also hope to incorporate my love of writing and working with the media and become a contributing columnist to a magazine or news sites.
This is my long-term plan, but for now I am focusing on nutrition school and my writing. Yoga feels like the next goal to accomplish on my list and in the spring I hope to start my teacher training. After that, I’ll re-evaluate my goals and see what feels like the best next step forward and if my long-term goals still match up with my present and my current reality.
Perhaps in a few years it will be enrolling in a Ph.D. program and getting my psychology degree. I will not know until I get there and embracing this chaos, truly listening to my gut, and learning to be patient is what living a real and authentic life is all about.
It is definitely scary to be breaking out on my own and be completely responsible for the success and failure of my future, but I am no longer limited by the constraints of an employer or by my own expectations. I am free to shape my lifestyle, my business, and myself in anyway I see fit. This feels more manageable and not so rigid, instead allowing me permission to make changes as life happens.
One day I will get to the point where I will be able to let go enough and hit delete on the “Life Plan” that looms over me every time I hear that ding of my computer turning on. Until that point, I’m focusing on the present and excited about the future — wherever it may take me.