In high school, my family dubbed college the “c” word. It was banned from family discussions and dinner table topics. Why? Because from the second sophomore year ended until the minute you actually stepped foot on campus, the big fat million dollar question was: “Where are you going to college?” It was easier to answer senior year when the acceptance letter had already rolled in, but junior year… ha, it was like asking for a panic attack. (And how many times did people ask it? 249 times a day.)
I’m out of college and it seems like the new big question is… where do you see yourself in five years.
In job interviews this is a huge question. But other people ask it all the time too. Maybe it’s because my career path isn’t traditional, but I feel like once a day someone makes me declare who I want to be, what I want to be doing in five years. (Although, I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this!)
I used to really stress out about what I wanted to do in the next five years. The problem with a five year plan, in my opinion, is that five years is a long time. Plans are good and everything, goals are great too… but sometimes it can cause you to steer in a direction that, after a bit of time, isn’t the right direction anymore.
One thing I struggle with is balancing the drive to have, meet, and exceed goals, but to also listen to myself and make the decisions at the right time. Sometimes you outgrow goals. Sometimes you find new passions unexpectedly. I think you have to be flexible enough to say, “You know, maybe this isn’t the direction I want to go in anymore.” (Remember my path to passion post?
Five years ago, I absolutely never ever in a million and a half years could have guessed where I am today. Ever. It blows my mind how different my life is from what I thought it would look like. Do I love where I am and who I am and what I’m doing? Yes. I think that matters more than where I think I might possibly be in five years.
The five year plan has been on my mind even more. In five (and some change) years I’ll be 30. (Whaaaaa?) And I feel like I’m constantly at a crossroads of different, super different, life paths. I keep finding myself making choices that funnel me down a weird kind of road. I struggle with it from time to time, but ultimately keep making those choices, closing my eyes, and taking leaps of faith.
With the 30 number in my mind, I started questioning if I should be making choices that would lead to a more “white picket fence” path. Oh, it’s been on my mind in the biggest kind of way. Thankfully, I have amazingly supportive friends and family who are behind me no matter what and that means more than anything.
Life is full of changes and unexpected things, but family and friends are the most important constants.
I’ve basically decided to not worry so much about what the next five years holds (picket fences or otherwise) and instead make sure I do everything I can to keep those important to me in my life and to do everything I can to be there for them too. So… in five years, I’d love to have a closer relationship with those amazing people.
Does anyone else feel pressured to have a five year plan?