I was still a teenager the first time someone asked me ‘Where do you want to be in five years?’ I was talking to a pyramid scheme salesman with a mechanical smile and an alarming sense of amorality. I can’t remember how I responded, but it was probably something vague and not very sensible. Not that it would have mattered. Whatever answer I gave, his response was going to be the same. I could achieve all of these dreams and more, if only I bought in to the wonderful opportunity he was presenting me with.
Not surprisingly, he sticks in my memory as the target of an unremitting stream of mocking teenage humour. To be fair though, the essence of his question is a reasonable thing to reflect on.
Over twenty years later, and when I think about this question, my answers still tend to be vague and not very sensible. This might go some way to explaining my torturously convoluted career path, but not entirely.
I love a good plan, and have certainly tried to follow a few of them over the years. For the most part, they seemed to end fairly badly. Perhaps it is because questions like this encourage us to to imagine a utopian fantasy version of our lives, and then chase after it. I have come to believe there is something inherently unstable with that kind of thinking. It is a thought process, and a question I have grown to view with extreme caution.
Still, there is undeniably an air of dissatisfaction hanging over our house. Not the homeschooling part of it, but the context it sits in. My wife and I have two kids, two cars, and live in our own house on a quarter acre block on the coast. We are undoubtedly living the Great Australian Dream. It is strange to find this accompanied by such a nagging sense of unease, of drifting aimlessness.
The greatest advantage to working as a nurse, is that it is an extremely malleable, and easily sold skill set. Pretty much anywhere I could reasonably expect to live in the world, I could also reasonably expect to find work. I am not restricted by either state or national borders. The potential for change is overwhelming, and I struggle to pick real opportunities from fantasies.
We have come up with a few different ideas as to what we might do next. They range from staying where we are and doing more of the same, to packing up the family and moving to the other side of the planet. None of these ideas come with a compelling reason to follow up on them, though, so things are just left to drift a little further. We need a decent plan. Even a plan not to change anything would be fine, if it came with a solid rationale.
I have been using the last scrap of school holidays to explore the idea of formal life plans. The obvious place to start is with a web search.
There are plenty of templates. I have not had the time to look at any too closely just yet. Instead, I have skimmed over several dozen, thrown most of them away, and set two or three aside to cover in a bit more detail later on. For the most part, they seem to be built around some variation of the same theme.
Where do you want to be in five years?