Unpopular Opinion: Screw 5-year Plans

As you go into the unknown, it becomes the known.”

Frank James

Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely goal-oriented. I have big dreams that I would love to turn into reality. However, dreams change, and events happen that are out of our control. 5 years ago, if you would have asked me what my 5-year plan was, I might have said something like, “I’d like to work at an ad agency, and I’ll probably be married/engaged at that point.” That’s cute… My life took a different direction, a better direction. For a living, I am a digital/event marketer at a really cool medical robotics company. I am single and enjoying my time hanging out with friends, focusing on my career, and writing blogs. I’d love to give 21-year old Alex a big hug and tell myself that everything is going to be fantastic, even if things don’t go as planned.

Timing is out of our control.

I believe giving ourselves deadlines for our goals makes us act in ways that work against us. For example, if your goal is to get promoted at work by a particular time, you may stress yourself out, and we all know stress is counter-productive. Or you may be the type to step on others to get ahead (please don’t). You can work hard, and I’d encourage you to do so, but you can’t control the promotion decision-makers and their timing.

If your goal is to get married by a certain age, you may end up settling just to hit that deadline. To be clear, many people are lucky to find their person at an ideal time. So, if you get married on the earlier side, I am not saying you are settling. You are settling if you care more about the act of marriage than your feelings about the relationship. If you are settling, you may have this “I need to make this work because I have no other option” attitude. I understand there may be some biological reasons for this if you desire to have kids, but wow, that’s a lot of pressure! For me, I refuse to let any of that noise influence me. We don’t get to choose when the right person walks into our lives. Frankly, from what I’ve witnessed, they come at rather inconvenient times.

In my humble opinion, 5-year plans are silly. As I grow older, I get to know myself better. I have a better understanding of what I want in life than I did 5 years ago, and I imagine that I will have an even better understand 5 years from now. We simply keep growing, and maybe that’s all we need to ask of ourselves.

I am not religious, and I am not sure if I believe in destiny. I do think the more I surrender to what I can’t control, the happier I am, and the more things tend to work in my favor. Going into the unknown is scary, but I believe there is a lot of personal growth to look forward to. Life is like a road trip without a GPS; you move forward even if you can’t quite clearly see the twists and turns that lie ahead.

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