As anal as I am about planning and details (I just finished drafting a 4-day itinerary of things to do, hour-by-hour, during my upcoming Chicago trip), I never really came up with a plan for my life.
I’ve been applying for a slew of jobs so interviews will likely (hopefully) follow. And there is one interview question that I’ve always loathed because I never knew how to answer it:
Where do you see yourself in five years?
My first thought is always “What the f*** are you talking about?”, closely followed by “How the heck should I know?”. My actual response is usually “To be honest, I don’t know. I never plan my life that far in advance. What I do know is that five years from now, I want to have gained more skills and competency in my job, enjoy what I am doing, and know that I am of value to the company”. I always worried that my response demonstrated a lack of ambition, but it the only way I can think of answering the stupid question.
Well… I have a plan. At least I think I do. Along with all the job hunting I’ve been doing, I’ve been weighing a bunch of options. At first I was overwhelmed – working from morning-to-night combing and searching for answers regarding career changing, continued education, visas, job markets, etc. For someone without a job, I’ve been pulling a lot of hours! Anyway, I think I finally have something:
My 3-Year Plan
- Now-Feb 2013: Work part-time or temporarily here in Canada; start part-time HR certificate course
- Jan 2013: Apply for UK visa
- Mar 2013: Work in London; continue HR course online; learn German
- July 2014: Get TESOL/TESL certification; apply for German visa
- Sep 2014: Teach Business English in Germany
- Sep 2015: Return to Canada; graduate from HR certificate course; prep for HKE exam
It’s not a perfect plan but it’s a plan. At least I have a sense of direction – which is a far cry from where I was weeks prior.
I moved out of my apartment the last week of June. The following week I vacated my items from the cubicle I had been occupying for four years. After I leaving my job, in early July, I felt restless. Not to the point where I was losing sleep but I kept wanting to move or do something. I thought jogging would do the trick but it didn’t.
A couple of weeks later my family went down to the Caribbean for a family reunion. We landed and I kept staring at the mountain at the center of the island with this immediate incessant need to climb it. I didn’t pack the gear to do it so the next best thing to do was walk the hilly roads that snaked around and through the island.
The locals could tell I wasn’t one of them because I walked with speed and purpose; they knew they had a city girl in their midst. I’d walk and walk and walk, assured by them that it was impossible to get lost on such a small island; the road doesn’t end so you’ll always meet your destination. Except I didn’t have one. I just needed to walk it out. I’d walk from one town to another. One day I walked and walked until the road ended. The road ended. I was on top of a steep hill looking at the pavement stop sharply in front dense bush. It wasn’t a bad place to be lost – being on a hilltop overlooking a turquoise ocean – but I was tired from climbing and the sun was going down. So I sat for a few moments to catch my breath. And then I followed the same road back down the hill.
I didn’t have an epiphany in those few moments before heading back down, but there was a sense of calm as I descending down the hill. I knew I can always go back. If you know you have the possibility to return to where you came from – even if you’re not sure where you are at that moment – are you ever really truly lost?
I wonder if the reason I never made plans for my life – choosing instead to trust that life will take care of itself – was because I was afraid of failing and losing myself in the process. With this three-year plan, there is comfort in knowing that I can always go back. There is also a slightly sick exhilaration in knowing that I may fail. And if I do fail, I can do something else. I can choose my own adventure – like those books I loved when I as a kid!
Those books essentially illustrated the idea that life is about the choices we make and the subsequent path it can lead us down. Can I plan and make goals for the next three to five years? Sure. Do I know where I will be in three to five years? No, because nobody does. And that, my friends, is why that interview question is stupid.
I think I just need to walk it out a bit more. And Europe looks like a great place to do it.