Five Year Plan

12 Mar

It’s funny how much things can change.

Five years ago (well, five years ago and four months, more or less), I graduated with my B.A. in International Studies. It was one of those “special,” degree programs where I got to choose my area of study, take the classes that interested me, and learned my little heart. (Seriously, I was a dork in college. I mean, a fun dork, but still… each class had it’s own notebook and highlighter. My planner was color coded. One of my best guy friends made fun of me for years because I was so organized and color coordinated.)

I finished college in three and a half years because little Miss Ambitious Me stayed during the summers to work random jobs, enjoy the town and take classes. Some days I think it was a great decision to finish early, others I wish I had stayed the last semester.

Turning in my final exam in my rural sociology class, an eye-opening, intriguing class, my professor asked my plans post-graduation. They were to: work for Bank of America as a teller, get them to pay for my grad school, save up for a house, and take it from there. I wanted to move to D.C. to work for non-profits or as a lobbyist. (You wouldn’t know it from my blog but I love politcal science, history, and making a difference.)


None of that ever happened. I didn’t want to work at a bank, so when my dad said that his new business needed an administrative assistant, I took the job. Salary, benefits and my dad as my boss? Sign me up. Within six months I created my own position, pitched it to my dad and his business partner and landed myself the role of Event Coordinator. Two years later, Event Manager. Now I manage to many different things to even put it on a business card (Event, Marketing, Contract Management, Client Relations, Teacher sometimes, and the girl who makes the coffee seems a bit excessive).

When I graduated I was dating a loyal, quiet, country boy. We had grand plans to get engaged and get married but hit a speed bump when he decided he didn’t want to move away from his small town and I wasn’t going to give up what little city life I had.

When I graduated I was going to live at home and save, save, save. After six months of working for my dad, I thought it best if I moved out on my own. So I did, for the past four years, anyway. I apartment hopped mostly because my roommates changed due to marriages, babies and fiances. I’m back at home again and so thrilled for the opportunity to save up money for my very own place. I’ve started perusing the houses and townhomes for sale, all with a yard of course so that Jack can play fetch. (And maybe I’ll get a second dog because Lord knows I’ve wanted one for awhile now!)

If you had asked me five years ago what I’d be doing today, I wouldn’t have said that I’d be a blogger, living in St. Louis, finishing my masters, a book fiend, single,  working for the family business with the likely intent to take it over or training for a 10 mile race. I also wouldn’t have guessed that I would be happy with everything I just described, but I am. It feels like home, like me, like what I’m supposed to be doing. Even if there are days where I have my doubts, I know I’m on the right path.

I’ve also decided that my next five year plan is to have no plan. It just seems better that way.

Are you a believer in the five-year plan?


28 Responses to “Five Year Plan”

  1. mandy March 12, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    I love this post. I never would have imagined that I would be happy living the life I’m currently living. I’m not a big believer in the five year plan. I have friends who had five/ten year plans — and none of them worked out very well. I believe in going with the flow, being open to new opportunities, and seeing where it all takes me.

  2. butterflycharlie March 12, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Great post. I’d love to say I believe in a 5 year plan however at the end of December I gave myself a three MONTH plan and it all kinda went to shit!

  3. jen March 12, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    i think plans are over-rated! if you had asked me five years ago where i would be i would not have had a very positive answer, now i am married, finishing my masters, raising a teen ager and healthy! and all of that was with out a plan!!

    cheers to the next five years!

  4. katelin March 12, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    yeah i don’t think i’m decisive enough to have a five year plan. i have ideas of what i want to do but i won’t be devastated if i don’t get there. it’s a tricky one.

  5. Amber from Girl with the Red Hair March 12, 2010 at 7:27 pm #

    Well, yes and no, I do have idea’s in my mind of where my life will go in the next five years. But nothing is for certain. I’m more of a fan of the 1-year plan. I’m a bit too anal to have NO plan at all, so 1-year sounds good.

    I signed a 1-year lease on my new place, so I know that I’ll be in Kamloops for at least another year and hopefully really enjoying my career once I’m into it full-time. The idea of being long-distance for another year sucks, but I know we can do it.

    After that year, well, I honestly have no clue what’ll happen! A lot depends on how the next year goes.

    Also, five years ago today me and Eric were a brand-new couple and I was a naive young high school student. While I knew I’d be going to college/university – most likely for journalism – I had no idea of all the “small” things that would happen in my life to put me where I am today. And, when it comes down to it, I couldn’t be happier with where I am in life!

  6. Lisa from Lisa's Yarns March 12, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    You most definitely are where you need to be right now. Our hearts will always yearn for a little something more, but that is only natural.

    My life is not what i thought it would be 5 years ago. Nearly 5 years ago I bought this condo and thought I’d stay here for 2 years & move on. Maybe get married. Maybe have a kid right now. Ha. So didn’t happen. But I am ok with that. Yes, I yearn for a husband and a family – some day. But right now I am where I am supposed to be.

    I think 5 year plans are good, but I always reserve the right to take a completely different path. It’s good to put down goals/objectives but flexibility is also so important!

    I have no idea where I will be 5 years from now, but i can tell you this – I will still be blogging. I will still be running. I will still be bbm’ing you. So even though I don’t know much else, at least I have those things to rely on. :)

  7. imogenc March 13, 2010 at 4:08 am #

    Never realised we had so much in common :roll:

    I studied Economics & History (double-major BA), then got a Master’s in International Relations -and up until recently I worked at the Public & International Affairs Department of a local university (have now moved on to managing the Erasmus & European Projects office). I also thought I’d live with my folks when I first came back home -but ended up moving to my own place 2 years ago…Mad!

    Anyway. The answer to your question is: No, I’m not a believer in the five-year plan (such a job-interview type thing) or most plans, come to think of it…Experience has tought me that 9 out of 10 times envisioned plans won’t work (my guess would be, Murphy’s Law). Unless we’re talking about planning an event, though ;)

  8. Sarah March 13, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    This is a really great post! I completely understand what you mean. I actually had a 5 year plan. Twice. My first one even came with a 10 year plan! It’s funny, both my 5 year plans didn’t work out. Big time. But the 10 year plan … strangely enough it’s kinda happened. Mostly because I factored in about 3 different paths my life could have taken over 10 years and was reallly, really vague about where I’d end up.

    But 5 year plans? Nope, they ALWAYS flop. I think it’s because the best things in life are those that you can’t plan for, you come across opportunities that you couldn’t imagine in advance and some things you think are certain turn out not to be so solid.

    My personal philosophy is that if I’m happy where I am today, then the odds are that I’ll be happy wherever I end up tomorrow. Lackadaisical, I know, but so long as I’m following my heart to what makes me happy, then I believe that I’ll be ok.

  9. OG March 13, 2010 at 9:47 am #

    I think it’s important to plan. I think everybody should have high level life goals like a 5 year plan, but you should also have smaller goals to help you reach those 5 year goals. Which is to say that you need yearly goals also.

    Planning is important because it forces you to look at what you want out of life and figure a path for how to get there. It also requires you to hold yourself accountable for reaching those goals. Most people never these steps because either A) they’re overwhelmed by the thought of looking at where they want to be in 5 years because they can barely manage today B) They’re lazy and they don’t want to hold themselves accountable for sticking to their plan

    I am guilty of it too. I have a plan, and so far I am behind on my 1-year goals and I make excuses for it. But the bottom line is that my goals are realisitic and if I tried harder to hold myself accountable I could do them.

    That being said, life changes so just because you set up a 5-year plan today doesn’t mean you can’t adjust it in the future if life throws you a curveball or you simply decide you’d like to go in a different direction. But there is some truth in the saying “failing to plan is planning to fail”

  10. Margarita March 13, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    I think the last time I believed in a 5-year plan was when I was 18. I had grand ideas of going to school for marketing (check!), getting a marketing job, finding a man and getting married.

    Well, things have kinda gone completely and crazily different than I could have ever dreamed, and I ADORE my life :) So no plans.

    Well, we have dreams! But no plans.

  11. bellerenee March 13, 2010 at 11:27 am #

    I love this, Nora. I don’t believe in five year plans. Right now I’m just riding out what life hands me and I’m okay with that. It’s taken me a long time to be okay with it, like you, but I’m finding I’m a lot less stressed!

  12. E.P. March 13, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    I definitely don’t have a five-year plan other than I want to be happy wherever I am and whatever I am doing.

    Five years ago, I was a sophomore in college. Five years ago, I was incredible naive. And five years ago, I had NO idea what I wanted out of life. … I think I have a better idea now. (:

  13. Holly March 13, 2010 at 4:34 pm #

    I MAKE plans, they just never seem to work out quite like I think they will :) I still make plans, all the same … I’m just much better at rolling with whatever comes than I used to be. It’s great to have a plan, but you don’t necessarily have to stick to it when other things come along :)

  14. barbetti March 13, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    I, in a way, believe in a five year plan. When it comes to where I’d like to be financially, emotionally and physically – those things are important. But I don’t set specific qualifications. I want to have more money, feel stronger/empowered and finally lose this weight, but I don’t want to specify exactly where I should be for each of those things. I don’t know. Goals, I guess, it’s good to have goals.

  15. Liz March 14, 2010 at 8:57 am #

    Well, you know what they say…”Life happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

    Life never seems to go according to plan, and for the most part, I’m very thankful for that. There are too many “happy accidents” in life for me to get frustrated that things didn’t happen the way I expected it to. But, that doesn’t stop me from making plans anyway. I just have to remember to keep an open mind, do the best I can, and be happy with what I have.

  16. mel March 14, 2010 at 9:14 am #

    I don’t believe in a concrete 5 year plan. I had made one years ago…What would happen to me and my life by the time I was 25 years old. I ended up sorely disappointed and pretty depressed and down about the things I hadn’t reached. I want to make sure a few of my goals are met in the next 5 years, but overall? I just want to live my life.

  17. jamie March 14, 2010 at 10:36 am #

    I’m not a believer of this. 5 years ago I never would have dreamed I’d be here. And who knows where I’ll be in another 5. Life happens and it doesn’t follow a plan. I wouldn’t want it to either. I’d miss out on things!

  18. AuburnKat March 14, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    I used to believe in a 5-year plan, but I definitely don’t anymore. I’ve learned over the years that you have to take life day by day…

  19. Kathleen March 14, 2010 at 6:03 pm #

    I love this, it makes me so happy! I like to set goals for myself, but I never have any specific “plans.” But you got me thinking, and I hope that five years from now I will have one or two children, be in school to get my nurse practitioner degree, and work closer to home. It’s fun to think about sometimes. :)

  20. Jessica March 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    I do believe in a five year plan but I try not to focus too much on it because so many things can change along the way. I’m more a believer in the 3 year plan, which is a little more attainable.

  21. Jessica March 15, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    Awesome! I’m so glad to hear that everything is great, even though it wasn’t what you expected.

    I need to learn to loosen up on my 5 year plan, because I know it’s not going to happen how I think it will. I need to learn to be flexible.

    Great post!

  22. Charlie March 15, 2010 at 4:06 am #

    I think your plan to not have one now is a good one. I feel the same at the moment, it helps keep you positive and although it’s nice to have something to strive towards you can put too much pressure on yourself. A general path is easier to have. Not too long ago I wanted to be a mother and married by this time. I also wanted to be a musician. I’m glad it didn’t happen because if I’d had a child already I’d probably not be happy. Every now and then I read about weddings and think I wouldn’t have minded that part of the plan, but life didn’t have someone for me at that time and it was for the good really.

  23. Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks March 15, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    I always thought I was a little bit of a failure for never really having a 5-year plan. Even now, at the age of 36, when speaking with a financial planner, I had very little insight into what I needed (money-wise) for the 5-year and even longer-term plan.

    In some ways, I have failed to set goals for myself. But, in other ways, I’ve remained flexible. Going with the ebbs and flows that life has delivered to me. It seems to work for me as I couldn’t be happier with where I am in life now.

    Glad to see you’ve remained flexible, too!

  24. Habbala March 15, 2010 at 10:42 am #

    I am a fan of planning, but with the realization that plans change constantly. So, I’ll have goals and plans written in pencil so I can rewrite things as they come.

  25. Her March 15, 2010 at 9:07 pm #

    Most of the plans I’ve made haven’t panned out for whatever reason–I’ll try things, then realize it just isn’t right. I have five year ideals, but no plans set in stone. I’d like to have kids by then, and we’re doing what we can to get there!

  26. Manderz March 16, 2010 at 8:34 am #

    I just learned a ton of new things about you. How exciting!

    When I was in junior high and high school I had 5-year, 10-year,25-year plans coming out my ying-yang. And then after high school, I stepped off “the path”. So all those plans fell to pieces. I haven’t really made one since – mainly because I just don’t know what I want to be doing in 5 years.

  27. ria March 16, 2010 at 10:47 am #

    i can barely see past next week. i definitely can’t plan 5 years in advance. i’d also like to say that i am so envious of you for being able to save money for a place of you own. if i could do things differently (not that i don’t appreciate what i have now) i would strive to be independent, just like you are doing. you are awesome :)

  28. Tabitha March 29, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    I think having a general plan is fine, as long as you’re not so bent on sticking to it that you miss out on great, unexpected opportunities. Personally? I’m a terrible “planner” so I’m with you on the whole planning-not-to-have-a-plan thing. :-)

    PS — I’ve been such a slacker commenter lately, and this might be the first time I’ve actually clicked through to your page in quite awhile, because I just noticed how great it looks! Love the header.

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