My 5-Year Plan is Dead

Okay, I admit… that was a clickbait-y title. I am feeling dramatic tonight.

Five years ago, I believed I needed a plan. I was working in a sales coordinator role at a startup but I knew I didn’t want to go into sales, so it felt dead-end.

I had no focus, but I felt this panicked urge to transition? What would I do next? What if I just ended up in the same place, doing the same job my whole life? That would be terrible, right?

I remember having a sheet of paper with 5 very different jobs (from copywriter to data analyst) with pro’s and con’s of each. I had no focus and created a lot of suffering for myself.

Around that time I read The Start-up of You, which mentioned making loose plans but also being flexible (“riding waves”). That advice stayed with me.

Fast forward to today. This mindset has served me well. It taught me to listen.

I was able to break into tech by listening to some sound career advice from a trusted colleague. Since then I have pursued volunteer opportunities just because they seem interesting to me, and I have listened to my instincts on when to move on from a commitment as well. I have learned to pursue what excites me; this includes leaving a Masters program that I felt didn’t align with my personality and starting one that is the perfect mix of my interests (a sociology degree with an analytics focus.)

My anxiety and intense desire to plan everything in my life sometimes causes me to want to burn everything to the ground and start over. But I am slowly learning to be okay with uncertainty and simply enjoy where I am. Surrendering and listening. Connecting and growing.

In fact, today, I would go as far as to say that there are some jobs that I wouldn’t mind doing my whole life. I have always thought that I should have direct reports by a certain age, be a VP by a certain age, etc. This feels like a product of the dark side of Lean In culture and #girlboss grind culture. I was pursuing goals for the wrong reasons.

Today, I am whole as myself. I am happy where I am.