Thursday 27 October 2011

The Five Year Plan

Indie author Kait Nolan was talking about Five Year Plans over on her blog the other day, and it got me thinking. You see, I've never been big on five year plans. I'm the type of person who'd go to an interview, and when asked where I saw myself in five years time, would say "I don't really mind as long as I enjoy what I'm doing." It sounds like I'm not ambitious, like I don't really care about my future, but I am and I do. I wouldn't be trying to carve out a career as a writer if I had no real interest in where I end up - nor would I be studying for a PhD in Film Studies with the eventual intention to be lecturing. But when it comes to long term goals, I'm far less specific. So long as I'm happy, or enjoying what I'm doing, or doing something that contributes towards my success in those fields about which I DO care, then I consider that to be successful.

Why am I so vague about something I should probably put some thought into? Well, this time five years ago, I was still a receptionist at an architectural practice in south London, I was single, and I was just pratting about writing the occasional short story for submission to magazines - and failing at it. I've come so far since then, but I don't think I would have seen myself where I am now if I'd thought about it back then. Would I have ended up somewhere different if I'd HAD a Five Year Plan? Most probably. Would I have an actual published book, and be studying for a PhD? Maybe, maybe not. Would I spend some of my weekends running around haunted buildings with my boyfriend, investigating the boundaries of the paranormal? I doubt it. Either way, that's where I am now, and I'm happy with it.

So do I have a Five Year Plan now? Yes and no. Yes because most of those five years will heavily revolve around my PhD, but no, because you never know what curveballs life will throw at you. I prefer to stay flexible, since what's right for me now might not be what's right for me in two or three years, let alone five. I think I'll stick to my current methodology - I'll set my goals, I'll work for the things I want, and I'll see how things go...

Stay tuned!


Jen said...

Good point. Maybe a five year guideline, instead. :)

Anonymous said...

I keep a big black pen beside my goal list to erase things and pretend they don't exist if I don't get to them.
I've never been a planner, but I'm seeing the benefits of it by doing short term goals for each school term. Feel more successful that way, but also allows flexibility to ignore things if stuff gets in the way.
Adam B @revhappiness

Tony Noland said...

I've had lots of five year plans for various aspects of my life, and have seen almost all of them derailed one way or another. I had a five year plan for my writing when I started, which also was in shambles within a year. I haven't yet made a new one.

Larry Kollar said...

Five Year Plans are great. Look how well they worked for the Soviets… oh, wait a minute. :-)

The book Getting Things Done has a pretty good approach to short- and long-term planning, I think. I'm oversimplifying this, but you triage goals into lists: "next actions" (what to do now), "someday/maybe," and "blue sky." The trick is to review each list and make changes as necessary — add, move, or delete items as life dictates.

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