My mother has gotten at me for years about making a five year plan.
She said that I need to have tangible goals set for my future, and actionable steps as to how I’m going to get there.
I found a version of a template from 2011 that she tried to get me to use (it didn’t work lol). That’s five years ago! Did I think I’d be where I am now five years ago? No. And the things I wrote on that list are so far from what actually happened one might be tempted to think the whole thing is bullshit.
Except for the fact that TM and I pretty much just came up with a ten-year plan in about five minutes.
See, the reason why the whole “five-year plan” thing didn’t work before is because I didn’t have a set end goal in mind.
There was nothing that I wanted to do specifically, so there really was no end goal to work towards. I kept waffling back and forth with my career decisions (do I want to be a programmer? a published author? a freelancer? a stay-at-home mom? a famous actress? ALL OF THESE THINGS AT ONCE?? YES, YES I DO.), and I could never find any “one” thing I wanted to do so I could just pick it and stick with it. So it didn’t work for me to make a five-year plan, because it would change as soon as my career aspirations did (which was literally every other day).
However, I’ve always been committed in my relationships. If I’m in it, we’re in it til the end. (Or til it ends.) I had no trouble planning my future around my relationship – in fact, I’d made a ten year plan for what I wanted to do with my relationship long before I even met TM.
Long story short, for me, the one, stable thing I need to plan my life around is not my career, but my relationship. My future family.
I know, I know, people are going to feel some kind of way about that, and that’s fine. If you don’t feel like your relationship is stable enough to stand the test of time to where you feel comfortable planning around it ten years into the future, then I feel sad for you, because I think everyone who wants it deserves a love that lasts.
Still, I do know that shit happens all the time. Even if we don’t suffer the divorced kind of separation, TM could get in a car crash tomorrow and be dead. Suddenly my stability is gone.
But the same thing can happen with your job. You could get fired at any moment. Your career isn’t necessarily any more stable than your relationship. In fact, I’d argue that you have more control over your relationship stability than your career stability (but I’ve never had a career, so what do I know?).
I do know that my uncle had a friend who had been diligently working for a company for 25 years – and as soon as they got a new boss, he was one of the first to go. Completely blind-sided the man. He didn’t see it coming. All of a sudden, his world was turned upside down. The thing he thought would bring him stability – the thing around which I’m sure he planned his life – ended up pulling the rug right out from under his feet.
I know that I don’t want a traditional 9-to-5. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be able to support myself financially should the necessity arise. It simply means that my career probably isn’t the thing around which I should plan my future. It was difficult for me to come up with a plan because I couldn’t see any one thing sticking for that long, so all attempts to create a plan around my “future career” fell flat.
However, I do see my relationship lasting that long, and I do see myself eventually having a family and raising children. This is something tangible that I know that I’ll be doing someday, and it’s very easy for me to plan a future around this, because it’s not something I see changing any time soon. So, it’s been very easy for TM and I to think about what I’ll need to do to come home, when he needs to start looking for a new job, what we’d do if I got accepted into graduate school as far as where we’ll move and how soon, what we’ll do if I don’t get into graduate school, when we want to start having kids, when I’d need to time my PhD, when we need to start saving up for stuff… the list goes on and on, full of minute, detailed items that I couldn’t even fathom when I was trying to plan around something so vague as “my career”.
Now, I am working on my budget (but again, the only reason I’m doing that is because I know we need to start saving up for a wedding), I am applying to graduate school (so the funded PhD will both allow me to slowly work on gaining financial stability while advancing me in a particular career field should I choose to pursue it some day), and I am searching for freelance clients (because I know I don’t want a traditional 9-to-5, and freelancing will allow me to stay at home with my kids when they get here). So regardless of whether TM and I make it – if he has a horrible accident and I’m thrown into being completely on my own yet again – I will still have a solid financial foundation with which to support myself. And I will have still made “career” progress to continue to provide for myself and my kids in the future if I need to.
Just that it was so much easier to map all of these things out when the smiling faces of a happy family was the light at the end of the tunnel, and not the sun glaring through the floor-to-ceiling windows of some executive corporate office.